>> The more things change, the more they stay the same. Thirty-three years ago, we were seated in a flooded MiD DAY office at Tardeo congratulating ourselves for publishing the first issue of the tabloid ever! It was dark, wet and the roof leaked so much that some of us had opened umbrellas to protect ourselves from the droplets! The headline we had printed was a cheery greeting to Mumbai. And though we were a tad nervous about our offering (there were two successful eveningers already in the market) by the afternoon news had come in that the paper had been received with much appreciation in spite of the gloomy skies.
Our being at MiD DAY had to do with serendipity. We had been rookie reporters at the Times of India’s magazine the now defunct Youth Times, when Behram (Busybee) Contractor had persuaded us to quit the publishing giant and throw in our lot with ‘a young boy who wants to start an eveninger’ (That’s how he’d described MiD DAY would-be owner Khalid Ansari! We were in our teens, adventurous and loved a challenge, so without much thought we signed on. It was only our second job in journalism and we were assigned to the desk with the responsibility of coming in early mornings to bring out the front page. This was in the days before computers, Internet and the printing revolution and every thing was done manually with the printing press on the premises! We learnt the value of words by watching each letter being hammered out individually, methodically precisely in steel each morning. Our hands would be grimy and inked by the end of the process. It was fascinating. We did not distinguish ourselves much at our time at MiD DAY and our successes were few and modest: we interviewed nurse Aruna Shanbagh, who had been raped and had slipped into a coma; once we landed ourselves a huge scoop when had gone to the Oberoi to do a routine interview and overheard a senior official refusing to provide food for the ailing leader Jayprakash Narayan who was ensconced at the Express Towers; and we recall Ansari patting us on the back when we came up with a headline “Amritraj senior turns off the Fawcett’, when one of the tennis brothers had to break off his relationship with model Farrah Fawcett. Then it was time to move on and we left MiD DAY to join the India Today Group’s newly launched Bombay magazine. Happy birthday MiD DAY. We try and eschew clichés, but can’t help remarking: ‘You’ve come a long way baby’ and adding ‘And so have we — and so have we!’
Explorer has arrived!
>> Congratulations are in order to the dynamic Smiti Kanodia, who has followed up the success of her Time Out franchise after seven years with a fitting encore —Time Out Explorer — a travel glossy that appears to bring the same high standards of journalism to its pages.
Smiti, daughter of the Essar family had struck out on her own into publishing and proved to be a natural at it.
The magazine is a quarterly and looks like a treasure-trove for travellers and armchair travellers alike. No, we’re not saying which category we belong to.
>> More about the hi-jinks in Bali where some of Bollywood’s creamiest layer seems to have disappeared for a getaway of fun and frolic to bring in the 40th birthday of London based wealth manager Rizwan Baig.
Baig happens to be the son of former Test cricketer Abbas Ali Baig whose brothers Mazhar and Murtaza played first-class cricket for Hyderabad.
The family hails from a distinguished lineage from Hyderabad and Abbas and his wife Vinu are prominent figures on the Delhi social scene. Some of the names attending the event are Hrithik and Sussanne Roshan, Arjun and Mehr Rampal and Ness Wadia.
Star fathers and sons in-law!
>> Want to know what Bollywood’s most exclusive club is now? The club of current actors married (or engaged) to the daughters of yesteryear stars.
Hrithik Roshan is married to erstwhile Jubilee actor Sanjay Khan’s daughter, Akshay Kumar to ‘70s superstar Rajesh Khanna’s daughter Twinkle and now Saif Ali Khan will be married to actor Randhir (Dabboo) Kapoor’s daughter Kareena!
Interesting to note that none of the three actors resemble their famous father in-laws in any way whatsoever!
Crusader (minus hockey stick) Awarded
>> Just when a few police officers have been in the news for all the wrong reasons, word comes in that former IPS officer and anti corruption crusader Y P Singh has received the Udaan NBT award 2012.
At a well-attended function on Tuesday, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan handed over the plaque to the activist-lawyer-cop who is said to be the force behind the Adarsh scam exposure. We had met Singh way back in the ‘90s when he was involved in exposing the scams of that era like the MS Shoes, US 64 and Panna Mukta Oil Field frauds. (What small potatoes the figures were then!) It was rumoured that political pressure had forced the CBI to transfer him out to the state police and then to Nagpur. We recall how he studied law so that he could challenge that order and take it all the way up to the Supreme Court, where he won. When we spoke to Singh about the present lot of anti-crusaders we were happy to note he hasn’t lost his fire. On Anna Hazare, he said, “He’s an imposing puppet, newly-found, adorned and then put up by an ambitious team of opportunistic people.” Dhoble elicited, “He’s only catching den-owners but not the hafta-seeking local cops.” And on whether he possesses a hockey stick: “I have not used a hockey stick because the idea did not strike me but the present law does not distinguish a lathi from a hockey stick!”