The story of Queen Victoria and her Indian secretary Abdul Karim (Q&A, Big Story, Jan 3) by Shrabani Basu, made for a fascinating Sunday read. Throwing light on the relationship between Victoria and Abdul not only tells us about the tale of individuals during the height of British India, but also how two ‘civilisations’ viewed each other. It is this extreme close-up view that made Basu’s chronicling of the story so compelling as well as important.
One wonders whether a similar exercise will ever be conducted, with equal narrative flair and historical research with other characters from the past — like Jawaharlal Nehru and Edwina Mountbatten, Rabindranath Tagore and Victoria Ocampo or Indira Gandhi and Dhirendra Brahmachari. Or will hagiographies alone rule the roost?
Namita Jha, New Delhi
A controversy aimed at box office success
Vir Sanghvi in It’s about behaving with grace, you idiots! (Counterpoint, January 3) rightly pointed out that even a semblance of grace was missing in the way all those involved handled the controversy surrounding the film 3 Idiots. Now that the movie is a box office sizzler, everyone is scrambling to take credit for its success. To avoid similar controversies in future, all contracts should be signed in such a manner that there is little scope for a misunderstanding that might lead to an ugly public spat like this one.
Kiran Sabharwal, via email
Vir Sanghvi has rightly faulted the crew of 3 Idiots for not giving due credit to Chetan Bhagat. The fact that they bought the rights to Bhagat’s novel, to make a movie based on it, leaves no one in any doubt as to whose creative brainchild the script originally was. And now all those associated with the movie are being insufferably self-righteous, following favourable reviews. Pushing Bhagat’s name to the end of the film was surely inappropriate; and asking a scribe to shut up even worse. Success on such a massive scale should inspire humility and not arrogance.
J.M. Manchanda, Delhi
As an avid reader and movie-goer, I found Sanghvi’s analysis skewed in favour of Chetan Bhagat. It seems Sanghvi has come to the aid of the journalist who was shouted down by the film’s producer. I think all involved behaved like idiots. Both Chetan Bhagat’s book and the movie are rather mediocre and, as Sanghvi says, no amount of box office success can buy you class. Bhagat should realise that a ‘bestseller’ tag cannot magically transform him into a good writer or buy him the Booker Prize. Also, Sanghvi should follow his own advice and try to be more objective.
Jatinder Sethi, Gurgaon
Resolving to be better
Karan Thapar in Promises to break (Sunday Sentiments, January 3) suggested interesting resolutions for politicians, media and its viewers. TV viewers must not allow themselves to get fooled by so-called ‘reality’ shows, which bear no resemblance to reality. As an avid viewer of his show, though, I wish Thapar would not change the way he interviews people. He should perhaps change his resolution, but not his style.
Neha Paul, Patiala
Karan Thapar has rightly said that we make resolutions only to break them. In fact, if we find it difficult to stick to promises that we make to ourselves, how can we ever manage to keep those we make to others? It is the duty of our politicians to give us a crime-free society, and maybe it’s time for them to stop making tall promises and start bettering their own track records first. If both the citizens and office-bearers of this country act more responsibly, the day is not far when India can actually make some real progress that goes beyond its impressive growth rate numbers.
Saket Saurav, Patna