In the eighties when a coterie of reporters in Bangalore were acting as the drum beaters of a chief minister, some of their ilk in Bombay were dancing to the tunes of an underworld don. They included journalists from the lowly tabloids to the mighty national dailies. The unholy nexus between politicians and journalists has been written about but very little is known about the underworld clout with the fourth estate. Beyond the Newsroom fills this void.
Truth is often stranger than fiction. Through this work of fiction, journalist Oswald Pereira manages to bring out the bitter truth of what goes behind the news – crime news in particular. It is the horror story of suppression and distortion of news to suit the needs of a mafia don. The don is Narayan Swamy, the semi-literate bootlegger-turned Bombay’s most dreaded crime lord who manipulates ministers, legislators, criminals, police officers, lawyers and journalists to do his dirty jobs.
He has a special liking for journalists as he has found them to be ideal intermediaries.
A handpicked triumvirate of journalists including a leading business writer acts as his eyes and ears. It is their job to alert him, to suppress unpalatable news, to intervene on his behalf at the right time and advise him on making his ill-gotten wealth white. Those on his payroll never fail him. His escape to Madras by hoodwinking a posse of 400 policemen makes big headlines.
Not many of the interesting characters are fictitious. The Godfather is modelled on notorious Varadaraja Mudaliar who ruled the Bombay underworld with an iron hand. He built a multi-crore financial empire but wanted to turn over a new leaf. Some of the politicians and the super cop on the don’s trail are easily identifiable. One of the crony journalists has shades of a scribe who writes on Bombay underworld.
It is a thriller which can be read at one go. As a novel Beyond the Newsroom is a modest success. It is more like investigative journalism at its best but won’t find a place in any newspaper. The harsh truths tumbling out are severe indictments of a noble profession debauched by unscrupulous scribes.
What appears as a scoop is often a plant by some vested interests to serve their ends. Often the reader won’t get the real news as there are journalists willing to hide it for a few pegs of Scotch. Pereira’s expose on the dirty deeds of some black sheep is a timely reminder when the Indian media scene is witnessing a churning process. The book will be of interest to every one who cares for news.
Causes Oswald Pereira Supports
Equality of Women, Economic Equality