Reading ‘Justice for the Judge’

Ranjan Gogoi’s 13-month tenure as chief justice of India was characterised by frequent controversy. In April 2019, he was accused of sexual harassment by a junior court staffer. Critics noted that his decisions in key matters – the National Register of Citizens in Assam, the Babri Masjid dispute and the Rafale deal, among others – went in favour of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government. Four months after he retired from the court, Gogoi accepted a nomination to the Rajya Sabha.

Last week, Gogoi was back in the headlines with the release of his provocatively titled memoir, Justice for the Judge. The early notices have been less than glowing. In an article in LiveLaw about what Gogoi omits to say in his book, Manu Sebastian notes that the author “exhibits a pronounced hostility and intolerance towards criticism against him by terming them as ‘personal attacks’, ‘misinformed’, motivated’”. Sebastian agrees that “Gogoi is entitled to feel perturbed by the critical comments against him; he is also entitled to search for inner peace by giving a vent to his wounded feelings. But he is not entitled to think that his conduct at the public office should be shielded from public scrutiny.”

In India Ahead, Manish Chibber writes that “reading the can’t help but feel that the former judge has been selective with the truth”. He asks, “Does Justice Gogoi actually think that people will believe his explanations escaping responsibility for key decisions that he made during his tenure?”

Read Sebastian’s piece here and Chibber here.

JS nostalgia

What happened to JS, the magazine for teenagers produced by the Statesman group? For upper-class, urban young Indians of the 1970s, the publication was a glimpse into the world of pop and rock, groovy fashion and hippie philosophy that flourished beyond the borders of a nation with strict import controls. The publication, writes Jug Suriya, one of its early employees, “helped to invent the Indian teenager”.

Reading stray copies of the magazine in 2021, it’s sometimes a little difficult to understand what the excitement was about. Chandani Doulatramani’s article in Al Jazeera explains why the “fresh, intelligent, funny, and bold” publication had its youthful audience hooked – and attempts to find out why it was shut down in 1977.

Read the article here.

The case against Leni Riefenstahl

When German filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl died in 2003 aged 101, obit writers struggled to balance their loathing for the propaganda she produced for the Nazis with acknowledging her revolutionary contributions to the art of document film. Riefenstahl steadfastly maintained that she had no knowledge of the Holocaust.

In a gripping long-read in The Guardian, Kate Connolly writes about German documentary filmmaker and writer Nina Gladitz, who “dedicated her life to proving the Triumph of the Will director’s complicity with the horrors of Nazism”.

Read it here.

Afghans in Steindamm

“...when we spoke, our conversations were often not of the future but of the past, not so much of where they were but of what they had been. Our days ebbed and flowed with Skype calls and photos flicked through on phones, lists of marriages and deaths and the names of newborns. We traced the journeys of mutual friends across the world, avoiding talk of their routes, dwelling only on destinations. Between us flowed impressions of films and music, anecdotes of screenings and festivals, gossip and reminiscences...”

In Granta’s new issue, titled Should We Have Stayed at Home? New Travel Writing, Taran Khan, author of an acclaimed book on Kabul, meets Afghan refugees in Hamburg – and has some revelations about travel writing.

Read it here.

The Queen of Disco

Between 1975 and 1984, Donna Summer had a top 40 hit every single year. Her most loved tunes included I Feel Love, Last Dance and Love to Love You Baby. She was, as the music magazines crowned her, the Queen of Disco.

But, says Nick Levine on, she was much more. The release of an edited and remixed version of Summer’s I’m a Rainbow album recorded in 1981 gives him the opportunity to look back at the star’s legacy. “Nearly 10 years after her death, Summer’s music continues to fill dance floors and touch people’s lives – often at the same time,” he writes.

Read it here.