The Prince made them wince

29 September,2010 07:16 AM IST |   |  Hemal Ashar

In 2008, the Mukesh Ambani and Anil Ambani feud was at its peak with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh being dragged into the spat

In 2008, the Mukesh Ambani and Anil Ambani feud was at its peak with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh being dragged into the spat.

HAMISH McDONALD: Hoping for the best

At that time, sales of a book called, The Polyester Prince written by a Sydney-based journalist called Hamish McDonald was inaccessible to Indians but started being sold in a pirated version at several traffic signals in the city for approximately Rs 100. The book, an ambivalent look at the rise of the late Dhirubhai Ambani traced the growth of Reliance.

Sunday Mid-day had run this piece two years earlier, speaking to Hamish McDonald in an email interview. At that time, Reliance had refused to comment on the work simply saying, "it has malicious intent and is promoted by vested interests."u00a0u00a0

Some extracts from the story printed earlier, to put things into perspective.u00a0

Aware of piracy
Hamish McDonald had said in an interview from Sydney (Australia) where he was then working as Asia-Pacific editor of the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH), that he was aware that the book was being sold in pirated form in Mumbai. He still hoped then that his work would be available *legally* at bookstores some days.u00a0u00a0u00a0u00a0u00a0

Crude reproduction
McDonald had said: "Several friends have been telling me since the pirate versions started appearing on the city*s roads in about January this year, and one brought one to Sydney to show me. It is a very crude reproduction of the book. Whoever is making money out of it, it is not I."

Publication scrapped
When asked if the book has been officially banned McDonald says, "No, the book is not banned by the government. HarperCollins scrapped the book*s publication in India in 1997-98 after Reliance launched applications for court injunctions against publication on grounds of anticipated defamation. HarperCollins could just see an endless round of litigation ahead if it continued.u00a0u00a0

Warning letters
McDonald, who writes in the book that while he was in the process of researching his material he was invited to lunch by a pair of Reliance public relation executives and quizzed closely about his intentions, said that he never felt threatened in a physical sense while writing or researching the book. "However while I was still writing, I and the Australian publishers did receive warning letters from Reliance lawyers in both Mumbai and Sydney that any defamation in the book would bring actions for damages. In the end, there were no defamation actions brought."

Black mark
At that time, McDonald had said he took heart from Mani Ratnam*s movie, Guru that he says included some "ambivalence" about the Reliance founder. McDonalds had ended then, "Of course, I still hope it is openly sold.

It*s a black mark against India*s democracy and liberty that a book can be suppressed like this. I would hope that the Ambani sons would be coming to a mature understanding that their father*s story had its shades of light and dark. Mani Ratnam*s movie Guru, which was distributed by Anil*s company Adlabs, included some of this ambivalence. My book certainly doesn*t seem to have damaged them or Reliance companies."
Mukesh-Anil Ambani feud Hamish Mcdonald The Polyester Prince news Mumbai
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