I have very little faith in politics and no experience with lawyers ( touchwood!) to make up my mind on them yet! The previous paucity of trust stems from a purely personal distrust emanating from years of nursing the middle class hang up – ‘Do as you say and say what you do!’- something that politicians don’t have the liberty of doing- especially nowadays, you never know where the next twitter lynching is hidden!
It was the coming together of Politics and Law on stage that made me accept the invite for the launch of Courting Politics- Shweta Bansal, EBC. The book etches out the life and times of nine Lawyer luminaries who have raised the bar (pun unintended) in the political sphere. Bansal in the tome, charts out the individual journeys of these men. She doles out in her conversational manner of writing, snippets into the personal, professional and political crests and troughs in their lives.
The glaring absence of a woman in this august company is lamented by Fali S Nariman in his Foreword to the book and rightly defended by the author in the Introduction. The inter woven themes in the book are intriguing. Can the political identity of a lawyer sunder itself from the party’s ideology, in a manner of speaking? Can the two passions be seen as disparate in their own right and allowed to remain so? Is there a stepping on one’s toes while doing either of the jobs?
The men she chooses to talk about are not without faults. The writer doesn’t hold back from getting her hands dirty with that nitty-gritty of their illustrious lives. In her own admission, keeping up with her subjects’ busy schedules, mandated her doubt that the book will ever see the light of day, before she says au revoir to life! I ask Shweta how generous were the men in giving her face to face time to chisel her word heaps. ‘ Oh! They were more than just that- I could talk to them and garner many details of their lives’
Legal eagles all, the author makes a note of their stellar cases that they made a name for themselves in ranging from the nonagenarian- Jethmalani’s KM Nanavati v. State of Bombay which was an archetype of a greek tragedy as it were to minister Ravi Shankar Prasad’s – who she rightly grants the epithet- The Lawyer of lord Rama! She delves into the culinary choices of the lawyers too and doesn’t spare a mention of their pet peeves too. She dextrously glides the conversation into an outlining of their many high and lows. She draws out in the chat with the lawyers their mantra of treading this thin line of public life with a legal one and of course not to forget the personal too! I ask her if she had to tone down her language to ensure a greater reach of readers and she agrees, ‘Yes, I was conscious of avoiding legalese and jargon to make it palatable, however the subject was such that it didn’t require all that tweaking.’
|Yours Truly- Courting Books|
Glib talkers and erudite, wise saws gliding off their tongue, the book launch at the historical Bikaner House in the capital saw a back and forth of political sparring and as also a healthy banter amongst the lawyers. The book is immensely readable if you’re interested in this aspect of the men who are already quite popular and am gauging, harbour ambitions of a memoir. Don’t go about looking for instances of literary gems, instead go looking for the truth that lies bared in Bansal’s simple yet engaging lexicon.
The book is fraught with pitfalls of a simplistic narration at times and also of excessive reliance on the grandiose subjects’ aura. The author in her debut novel however, chooses an ambitious theme- one she does full justice to, considering she’s an experienced lawyer herself.
Bansal’s tying up of this political and legal thread in the lives of these men is commendable however this is a classic case of a deserving writer becoming a blurb amidst her subject that command headlines. I wish there were more sound bytes from her at the panel discussion. I wanted to hear more of her at the launch as I knew I’d get to read about the lawyer-politicians in the book!
Her next book she tells me is going to be a non-fiction too, one that I am looking forward to reading because of her and not because of who she is writing about. More Power!