Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Open Magazine: Good magazine whose standards are beginning to fall

Over the past year, I have come to really like the Open Magazine and have recommended it to many of my friends. The magazine is surprisingly free of cliche and aims to entertain and inform. It sits right in the middle of the spectrum of Indian magazines - far from the textbook-like Frontline and equally far from the Tabloid-ish India Today.

Some of their articles are provocative, some are funny, and some are very informative. Generaly, the quality of writing is of a reasonably high standard.

However, after the bright start, the magazine has started writing articles for which I can only assume they are being paid by the protagonists. The last two issues had an article each on Shashank Manohar and John Abraham. I can only hope that the Open got paid well by these two.

Sample this on Shashank - Positively cringe-worthy

When asked what he observed in the way Manohar handled the Modi/IPL issue, Ratnakar Shetty, the Board’s chief administrative officer, says, “He was firm. He is one person who cannot be pressured.”. Hahaha - What is he? An sllrounder who has to score 12 off the last over?

On that hectic 26 April afternoon, Manohar showed that he had the smarts, the conviction and the larynx to be a worthy president of the country’s most powerful sports federation. The smarts, the conviction and the larynx?! Really?!

Even if some of his answers seemed unsatisfactory, he demonstrated a grip on facts and an ability to argue a case. (How does one do that).

He was unreadable, a walking-breathing BS Chandrasekhar delivery. This is awesome.

He is atypical because he does not seem to hanker after the trappings of power and wealth. He already has them. Manohar owns a couple of Mercedes E Class cars. He has two Merc E class, then he must not want more money

True, Shashank Manohar is not the first BCCI president who is rich. But somehow he does not show it. And he is not driven by naked ambition. So, when everyone around him is overdressed or busy looking busy and important, Manohar strolls in wearing a half-sleeved shirt. What about the Merc E class then, that too two of them?

What is Manohar’s special talent? “Administering the game in a clean, professional manner is what is important to him,” says Rajan Nair, This is a classic. Spoken like a Miss World contestant. Guys, he is an administrator. Not a rocket scientist. Reminds me of an immortal piece from Catch-22

"Flying combat missions for General Dreedle is not exactly what I had in mind," he explained indulgently with a smooth laugh. "I was thinking more in terms of replacing General Dreedle, or perhaps of something above General Dreedle where I could exercise supervision over a great many other generals too. You see, my most precious abilities are mainly administrative ones. I have a happy facility for getting different people to agree."

"He has a happy facility for getting different people to agree what a prick he is," Colonel Cargill confided invidiously to ex-PFC Wintergreen in the hope that ex-PFC Wintergreen would spread the unfavourable report along through 27th Air Force Headquarters. "If anyone deserves that combat post, I do. It was even my idea that we ask for the medal."

"You really want to go into combat?" ex-PFC Wintergreen inquired. "Combat?" Colonel Cargill was aghast. "Oh, no - you misunderstand me. Of course, I wouldn't actually mind going into combat, but my best abilities are mainly administrative ones. I too have a happy facility for getting different people to agree."

The old VCA Stadium, however, has a tragic history. In 1995, during a Test between India and New Zealand, a wall collapsed, killing nine spectators and injuring over 70. Manohar, who was very much a force in the VCA then, was criticised for the condition and handling of the ground.

Manohar also faced public condemnation after his son, Adwait, was chosen to play for Vidarbha in the 2000-01 Ranji Trophy. Vidarbha experts say that Adwait was drafted in the team even though he had not been playing much or with any consistency. Manohar has characteristically kept quiet about the issue. Characteristically kept quiet about this issue? What could he have said? I tried it, but you guys caught on.

Shashank Manohar is a filthy rich lawyer from Nagpur who presided over one of the worst tragedies in Indian cricket, who tried to get his son into the domestic circuit by underhand means. He has accomplished nothing of note as cricketer or administrator but presides over the most powerful cricket body in the world. The way Open magazine has spun this story to paint him as being second only to Moses is brilliant. I thought the Open Magazine was above this kind of random trash. Looks like they are falling away.

The John Abraham article is even more cringe-worthy. I am seriously considering stopping my subscription.

All of us know Indian media is bit of a joke. I just thought there was a purple patch somewhere. Looks like another false dawn.

It is on occasions like these that I like to revisit this Ram Jethmalani tirade. I have become a big fan of this guy purely because of this. Anyone who can bury a journalist like that deserves a fan club.

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