Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Absolute Khushwant By Khushwant Singh: A Review


By John Cheeran
These days readers are more familiar with Chetan Bhagat than Kushwant Singh. It’s a pity. Singh, at a venerable 95, can no longer shock or prick Indian society’s egos. We, of course, have come a long way since the sardar wrote that his pen has no condom.
Very few would have read Singh’s Train to Pakistan that tried to capture the emotional vivisection of partition, published in 1956. Singh still retains the candour that endeared him to readers of his newspaper columns in the past and his fresh take on various topics, Absolute Khushwant, is a delightful read thanks to his brutal honesty.
Singh, a former editor of Hindustan Times and The Illustrated Weekly of India, never cared for political correctness and has no qualms to recall that by turning bullshitting into an art form he changed Indian journalism irrevocably. As an editor he never hesitated to titillate, if there was an occasion for it.
Singh still sings the praise of Sanjay Gandhi, despite Emergency and all that. He not only finds Sanjay dynamic but confesses that it was the man in a hurry who got him the editor’s job at The Hindustan Times. Not many editors would have been honest enough to say this when the dead cannot come back to scratch your back.
Many associate Singh’s prolific writings with ribaldry but the novelist, historian, lawyer and editor has many shades that quarrel against easy classifications.
Singh takes pride in continuing his war against fundoos despite advancing age. BJP, he says, has poisoned the country with its right wing agenda.
At the height of Emergency, Singh supported Sanjay and Indira Gandhi unabashedly. Today, Singh says, India is in safe hands—in the hands of Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. Well, not much has changed in his world.

1 comment:

John said...

Although Absolute Khushwant: has a very long title, the life story within is equally interesting

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