Blood Brothers: Khushwant gets ‘Guru Dakshina’

The first edition of Asian Age/Deccan Chronicle editor-in-chief and writer M.J. Akbar’s latest book, Blood Brothers: A Family Saga, was sold out before the launch and the second edition was underway even as the book was being released on Friday.

Mr Akbar walked up to Khushwant Singh at the book release function to present him with the first copy of the book as guru dakshina. Mr Akbar said, “I hand over the book to somebody whom I revere beyond words. He is verily the Dronacharya of our times.” Accepting the book, Mr Singh said, “I believe in the principle that you must not praise your children in front of other people.” A powerful narrative of social history as well as a memoir, Blood Brothers, which is the author’s first attempt at writing an autobiography, is the story of three generations of a Muslim family.

The book comes after the huge success of the author’s last book, The Shade of Swords, which ran into several editions and has been successfully published in the UK and US.

His biography of Jawaharlal Nehru is a classic that remains in print more than a decade after it was first published.

The book release was followed by a lively panel discussion on “Can brothers live without shedding blood?” The discussion got a headstart with Suhel Seth, who read out excerpts from Chapter 1 and 11, followed by an evocative Bengali recitation of an excerpt that set the tone for the panel discussion.

The participants included former external affairs minister Natwar Singh, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Jaswant Singh, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah, former Bhartiya Jan Sangh leader Balraj Madhok and former Union minister Arif Mohammed Khan.

Mr Natwar Singh disclosed that he is writing a book, Against Volcker. Expressing his admiration for the author, Mr Natwar Singh said: “It is the work of a truly civilised mind.” He went on to say, “The book is an exclusive piece of literature which covers a vast canvas of history, geography, sociology, religion etc.” Mr Jaswant Singh said, “While the book was extremely funny at times, deep pathos underlined the humour. I was taken in by the phrases of stunning luminosity.” He stressed on the title of the book and said that “India and Pakistan were born of the same womb.” “Born two, became three,” he added in an oblique reference to Bangladesh. Dr Abdullah hoped that like the European Community and its common market and common currency, some day the nations of the Saarc will unite. Referring to Indira Gandhi’s vision of Saarc, he expressed the hope that Saarc would show the way.

Author traces roots of Hindu-Muslim ties
(Rajesh Ahuja, The Asian Age, New Delhi)
“I and Akbar share a common view of history, and that’s where his USP lies. He also writes in an engaging manner, which makes his work a delightful read”.
It was an evening that saw the confluence of introspective thoughts over Moet & Chandon and white French wine. At the launch of the book titled Blood Brothers by writer M.J. Akbar, whom Ad man Suhel Seth terms as “India’s most cerebral editor”, bigwigs from the media industry raised a toast to not just the book, but to the celebrated journalist’s powerful writing style. Renowned author Khushwant Singh graced the occasion and launched the book amidst the A-list crowd at ITC Maurya Sheraton hotel on Friday. The acclaimed author said that Mr Akbar is like his child. The book is an autobiographical journey of the author and aims at strengthening Hindu-Muslim ties.The guests were equally charged up. On being asked what intrigues them most about Mr Akbar’s signature style, we got an array of interesting answers. Teaming a white shirt and a pair of black trousers with stylish Bvlgari glasses, actor Sanjay Khan said, “Like Akbar, I too strongly believe in the unity of both the religions. His writing fertilises introspection and I’m planning to take some of the copies of this book to Pakistan, when my brother Akbar Khan’s movie Taj Mahal will be screened there.”

Pakistan high commissioner Aziz Ahmed Khan confessed that he often SMSes Akbar after reading his articles. “He is focused, articulate, analytical and says more in few words,” said Khan. Suhel Seth joined in and said, “He is one of the few writers who epitomises a rare sense of craft and a strong sense of history.”

On being asked how it feels to have everyone praising his work, Mr Akbar said, “One should enjoy applause and appreciate criticism, but should not fall in love with the applause.”