(This blog's author is attempting to return to the fold, as it were. This is not the first attempt nor I suspect the last. The plot this time round is to make it simpler, shorter and easier to read. Which may prompt the conclusion that it was not so earlier. True, is the author's own objective assessment.)
Actually the book is called The Polyester Prince. Copies of the book suddenly appeared all over Mumbai on Sunday evening at traffic signals and pavement book shops. Prices ranged from Rs 100 to Rs 400 I was told. A colleague picked it up at Rs 100, the urchin selling it at a traffic signal in central Mumbai quoted Rs 250. The timing of the book's release - a day before Anil Ambani's mega Reliance Energy IPO opens for subscription - is curious to say the least.
The Polyester Prince was first published in 1998 and was supposed to be an authorised biography of the late industrialist. Somewhere along the way, possibly following a somewhat negative article the author (Hamish McDonald) wrote in the Far Eastern Economic Review, the two fell out. McDonald went on to write the book and published it.
McDonald provides interesting and less known insights into Dhirubhai's childhood. His birth in Chorwad, his time in Aden where he demonstrated his entrepreneurial bent and the birth of the textile and petrochemical giant that is Reliance today. But the book also prises open the lids on episodes the Ambanis would surely want to put behind - for instance, the fascinating story and events that led to the arrest of Kirti Ambani, a Reliance employee, on charges of conspiring to murder Dhirubhai rival Nusli Wadia.
Incidentally, the book was banned ten years ago and has till date stayed out of circulation. What was selling on the streets yesterday is the pirated version of a banned title. Most enterprising, one would think, even as you wonder why now. I guess Dhirubhai himself would have said, "Nobody is a permanent friend. Nobody is a permanent enemy. Everybody has his own self-interest. Once you recognise that, everybody would be better off."