I had always loved hearing Karan Thapar interviewing celebrities and political bigwigs and the way he had always put them in an uncomfortable position- Hard Talk, Devil’s Advocate, To the point, Off The Cuff, etc. His weekly article in the Sunday edition of Hindustan Times is a must-read for me. Though I hardly knew his background except that his father was Army Chief.
This book is not his autobiography, which he has clarified in the end, as he said that he is only 65 and has many more years of active journalism left in him.
The book is in two parts. The first part is primarily his life journey and the second part is more into the few interviews he did as Devil’s Advocate, the background, reactions of celebrities and how his personal relations soured with many of them.
From his life journey, it is indeed very clear that he was and is a man of Lutyens Delhi. He may not exactly have been born with a silver spoon but he had amazing contacts, most of them were his family friends. With ease, he tells that Sanjay Gandhi used to come to his house as a kid and how he flew him in his aircraft etc. He studied in Doon School and was the first boy to be awarded an Academic Blazer.
This is followed by his years in London and his friendship with Benazir Bhutto, which carried on when she became PM of Pakistan. Big names are often mentioned throughout the book. his section also describes how he left M Phil to chose journalism and moved to Nigeria. His lady love, marriage, the subsequent death of his wife and his move to Indian, all have been extensively covered.
Part 2 is his journey as a hard and well-researched journalist and how his famous interviews with Jayalalitha, Amitabh, L K Advani and Modi flowed. It describes how he antagonized them, maybe most of them never even forgave them. He was very close to Advani and was in fact involved in Track 2 diplomacy through him by organizing a clandestine meeting between Advani and Pak High Commissioner but he carries the guilt of embarrassing Advani in an interview, for which he was never forgiven. Story of an interview with Jaylalita which in fact I remember watching is also an interesting read. Another interview which he had with PM Modi in 2007 when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat, in which Modi walked out as well, has been described and Karan Thapar considers that as the reason for which he has been ostracized by the present govt.
It is a nice easy read. Most importantly, at least I felt it, that this book is in the form of narration and his voice will keep on echoing in your head while reading the book.
Grab it here: