New Delhi: Veteran journalist and editor Vinod Mehta, who passed away recently had written, "After 40 years of irregular employment, the only job I could do was editing and running print publications. I was useless at anything else."
'Editor Unplugged,' a memoir of Mehta's life as an editor, was launched in New Delhi on Tuesday evening in an unconventional ceremony amidst friends and family where novelist and poet Vikram Seth read out excerpts from the book.
Mehta, who had founded and edited numerous publications like 'Outlook', 'Sunday Observer' and the 'Debonair' passed away on March 8 this year at the age of 73.
"I still can't forget the day that he called and said that 'it's out'. He was so terribly terribly excited and was looking forward to its launch. A few weeks before he went to the hospital he went about inviting everyone," said Sumita Paul, Mehta's wife.
"He told me that we must make this special," she added. The book by Penguin Viking, which is the sequel to his much acclaimed autobiography 'Lucknow Boy', takes forward Mehta's journey, by "recounting his experiences in the corridors of power in Delhi."
In 'Editor Unplugged', which is peppered with anecdotes and gossip, Mehta also documents his opinions on political leaders such as Narendra Modi, Arvind Kejriwal, the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty and has penned portraits of leading personalities such as Ratan Tata, Niira Radia, Sachin Tendulkar and Arundhati Roy.
Writer Arundhati Roy to whom Mehta has dedicated a chapter unveiled the book as requested by him before he was taken to the hospital. The book was previously scheduled to be launched in December last year but had to be postponed owing to Mehta taking ill.
"Vinod was my partner. He was such a central part of my becoming the writer that I am. Together we managed to annoy so many people in such fabulous and delightful ways," Roy said adding that despite all the criticism that her essays invited, she knew that Mehta would make the "space for them."
Roy said she always assumed that Mehta published her articles because he was a "liberal editor" and not necessarily because he agreed with what she wrote. "I was so amazed because he says (in the book) that 'her causes are my causes'," she said.
'Walking with the Comrades', which was the last of Roy's essays that Mehta published before leaving Outlook, is according to the editor, the 'best editorial decision' of his life. "He says it stopped a government from going after the poorest people of the country militarily and that was what he was proud of," the author of 'God of Small Things' said and that that was what made him so special.
For his fondness of his job as an editor, Mehta wrote, "If the fairy godmother granted me the luxury of choosing a profession for my next janam (life), I would say without hesitation, Editor. But not of a film magazine."