I have read many interesting memoirs but never an entertaining memoir like Lucknow Boy by Vinod Mehta. It is a memoir where the author talk less about himself or his life, but in a true journalist style, writes a lot about other people around him. And all these people are well known celebrities and politicians. Vinod Mehta writes blatantly about many juicy and spicy hot and happening scandals and controversies about famous people.
He has made disclosures about Sanjeev Kumar, Meena Kumari, Mala Singh, Shobha De, Kabir and Protima Bedi, Dileep Padgaonkar, Arun Shourie, Shashi Tharror etc. Of course all these famous people will have sour mouth about this book but the readers like me will find it very sensational and thrilling. The book has been written in a very easy flowing style, gives me a feeling that if Arnab Goswami allows Vinod Mehta to speak on his debate show he would speak in the same style as he writes.
In Lucknow Boy, Vinod Mehta has poured in many spicy gossips, scandals, anecdotes and surprising revelation which he has covered in his magazines and newspaper or has come in his observation. He seems to have photographic memory and recall people whom he had met at some point in time and finds its way into the book.
With whatever little he has written about himself, we came to know that he is a proud Lucknowi and shares many of his childhood memories with his three friends. He and his friends were happy in their own world, untouched by the complexities of adult world like communism, socialism, secularism, racism etc. They were busy chasing girl as most of the boys do, of their age.
Vinod Mehta did not claim to have the smartest brain. In fact his intelligence level during his childhood days were between dense and brilliant. But he developed a reading habit during his 8 years stay in London and curiosity to know what is happening around him and to build a opinion. This played a crucial role in making Vinod Mehta one of the leading editors of India. To his credit he has revived an ailing magazine and newspaper Debonair and Indian Post respectively and started from scratch publications such as the Sunday Observer, The Pioneer, The Independent, and The Outlook.
Vinod Mehta doesn’t writes much about his personal life as real action is in his professional life. He has a very eventful forty years of career in journalism as an editor, where there is sacking, firing, resigning, court cases, embarrassment, threats, mistakes and what not.
The author is an anti-BJP and pro-Sonia Gandhi something which he didn’t hide and was apparent wherever he mentioned about BJP and Sonia. He criticized BJP and its government under Vajpayee’s leadership and highlighted various controversies in which they were involved and hollowness of India Shinning campaign. But he was very generous about UPA Government under Manmohan Singh and only wrote about 2G Scam and A Raja. Well journalist can also be biased sometimes.
At one place Vinod Mehta quotes George Orwell: “An autobiography is only to be trusted when it reveals something disgraceful.” Well Lucknow Boy did a top notch job in this. Vinod Mehta not only reveals some of his own disgraceful secrets like having a daughter outside wedlock whom he had never met, along with the secrets of other bigwigs. Well this is the job of journalist. Vinod Mehta has nicely blended his personal and professional life along with the interesting revelation about famous people.
The book is an utmost entertainer and full paisa vassol. A must read.