So The Illustrated Weekly Of India has passed away. Age 112. Survived by a weekend features newspaper, which is neither hare nor hound, neither the Sunday Times nor the Sunday Observer.
In more than one respect, it is the end of an era. And era that began with reading the Weekly in barber shops (Hygiea Hair Dressing Hall, Coiffeurs, Wellington Sallon), dentist dispensaries, Colonel Duggan's Eye Clinic and Opthalmic Centre.
And those once popular features, like favourite uncles and aunts who outlived their times: newly-marrieds (where we used to have a competition, which among the ugly couples looked the ugliest of all), Young Floks League and Aunty Wendy, the elephant Cutta Parcha, who was much later to become the Delhi Asian Games mascot, aful page of jokes. Strictly British humour, not Bantu Singh jokes, supplied by readers from Kaka Nagar for Khushwant Singh's tailpieces.
Every editor left his stamp on the Weekly. C.R. Mandy with his Gaullimautry. Once, when Eric Elliot's troupe was performing a series of plays at the Excelsior Theatre and Cinema, he wrote: "Othello was running through his lines as if he was in danger of missing the last train to Bassein."
And one Mr. Raman, who followed him as editor, and filled the Weekly with pictures of Shanti Prasad Jain, the late proprietor of the company, and of totally naked priests.
And Khushwant Singh with his ‘Malice' and exposed backsides of over-large women, who raised the Weekly's circulation ten-fold and had a graph showing the rise framed in his office. And poor M.V. Kamanth and K.C. Khanna, who came and went like ships passing in the night.
And, finally, Pritish Nandy with his kiss of death, the editor who has probably got more ministers sacked than Russy Karanjia has appointed.
And the Weekly itself has undergone many changes, from a tea-planters' magazine to family magazine to a magazine for dirty old men to the most-quoted-publication-in-parliament, and, finally, to nobody's magazine.
It is the end of an era. The Illustrated Weekly Of India has finally turned over and died. Funeral at 7.15 a.m. tomorrow at Upper Bangli, Doongerwadi>RIP.