Dream

Vinod Mehta and Magic of Outlook

Posted on: February 1, 2012

The breaking news of Vinod Mehta quitting Outlook – the weekly news magazine – has come as the biggest shock. Why has Mr. Mehta decided to call it a day all of a sudden? Was the writing on the wall? Have the readers and fans of both Vinod Mehta and Outlook failed to read it? This sudden development smacks of betrayal of the trust that the fans of Vinod Mehta have reposed in him for a period of almost two decades. In the Delhi Diary of the latest issue of Outlook, he fondly recounts his experiences at the Jaipur Literature Festival without giving any hint of this impending retirement. How could he manage to keep this decision such a tight secret? Is there more to this sudden announcement of retirement than what meets the eye? 

Having said this, Outlook and Vinod Mehta are synonymous. One cannot separate these two from each other. The most number of times sacked editor could take Outlook to such dizzying heights is the fact that defies all logic. Who can forget the controversial inaugural issue of Outlook? Who can forget the expose of match fixings in the Indian cricket team? The most recent are the shocking revelations of the Niira Radia tapes? With Mr. Mehta at the helm of affairs Outlook was the most awaited weekly magazine. Two segments of Outlook have hugely contributed to its success. I can say this with confidence as a devoted reader. One is the letters to the editor where readers calling Mr. Mehta all sorts of names can see their letters published. Another Delhi Diary written by the editor-in-chief himself where he can say the most outrageous things in his unique calling-a-spade-a-spade style and get away.

Now will the charm of Outlook remain the same with Mr. Mehta’s replacement in place or wither  away? This is a difficult question to answer. Maybe the answer will reveal itself over a period of next few Fridays when the latest issues of Outlook normally hit the stands across the country. What will Outlook look like without Vinod Mehta? Or rather what will Vinod Mehta be like without country’s number one news magazine at his disposal? Certainly these are the most painful times for both Mr. Mehta and its teenage baby Outlook.

According to me Mr. Mehta should try and write Lucknow Boy 2 in his free time now wherein he should reveal the secrets of what made him such an enduring presence with the Outlook Group. He should share all the trade secrets that changed the face of journalism in the country and made Outlook such a big house hold name. He should also hold forth on the possibilities of whether Outlook will survive without him or perish. However I am loath to write the obituary of this magazine I’ve grown up with with the departure of the man who launched it.

Let’s hope Mr. Mehta doesn’t disappear from the face of the earth. Let’s pray occasionally he comes out and voices his opinions from the retirement. It will be refreshing to hear this man once in a while who gave India a lot to look forward to over the weekends. No matter what Outlook does and how big it grows, the tall shadow of Vinod Mehta will forever linger over it. A big salute to the gritty and charismatic editor-in-chief whose notoriety this country loved to hate.

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