Peri Maheshwer : Again, a longish piece on Tarun. Bear with me. Comment only after you read it fully. The stupidity of our nation gets greatly exposed with two extreme reactions to Tarun Tejpal – the cult following at its best and now the rabid calls on his sexual escapades at its worst. For me personally, it is all the more disturbing as i know most of the parties involved. Tarun comes across as a sexual predator, on the prowl, in search for his next victim. He used his power and influence over young women half his age. The girl is his daughters' friend and his friends' daughter!!! This should not take away some of the most seminal work that the journalists of tehelka have done over the years.
Tarun' s story in itself is an Alchemy of desire. He was like most of us- chirpy, desires, fun loving, naughty. However, post Tehelka, he donned the robe of a Saint. He became preachy and started espousing causes that he never could stand for. He was nothing that the nation started acknowledging him for. He was a normal guy with all the flaws, fallacies and weaknesses. It was a facade he had to carry for the survival of Tehelka, which was losing money, each year. Only the power exuded by Tehelka could make it viable.
The existence of Tehelka is not just because of Tarun. He glorified himself when not due, owned the company when the money came from others. He acted the hero while he was just a team member. Tehelka exists because of:
1. The financial contributions of many citizens, celebrities and most importantly Shankar sharma, and
2. The work of Aniruddha Bahal and Ashish Khetan.
If Tarun's lofty objective was to start a not for profit free and aggressive media enterprise, he could have made all contributors as shareholders. He crowd funded Tehelka but did not part with ownership. The new shareholders include KD Singh, a Trinamool MP who bought his way into Rajya Sabha. Any intelligent person should have cried foul then. It is too late now.
Sometime in 2009 when my fledgling publication wrote against an educational institution with doubtful credentials, we got into a lot of trouble. Editors like Aditya Sinha, Vir Sanghvi, Shekar Gupta personally supported us. We were going through multiple cases and draining all our resources. When Tehelka decided to do a story, we were too happy. Who can espouse the cause of investigative journalism better? Only till we got the questions from the journalist. We realised that it was a story being done on behalf of the institution to throw insinuations at us. I was very upset because i knew Tarun personally but for him, it didn't matter. We responded professionally, and sticking to facts. I was daring them to do a story despite the facts. It was no coincidence that the dubious institution is Tehelka's biggest advertiser taking all its back covers. The story never appeared, because our response didn't leave any gaps. And the owner of the institution was at the THINK fest in Goa, rubbing shoulders with the then HRD minister Kapil Sibal and gained access to a ministry that should have punished him. Kapil Sibal later attended a special screening of a movie produced by this institution, and the picture was showcased all over to unsuspecting parents and students. For me, THINK became a place which conducted an orgy over social issues. I Stopped following it.
This is not just about Tarun. It is about abuse of power, by a journalist, an editor and a man. A self styled messiah. Each time, they believe they can get away unfair demands, they only push the envelope next time around. A few months back, i was at the Mumbai airport and bumped into a new age editor. Most of us will grudgingly accept a delayed flight, but the new age editors don't. This editor called up the airline staff, flew some kites, and got accommodated on the first available flight.
People in power with no humility can destroy like nothing else. The desires, fantasies and a coterie is a very potent combination. Tarun is a victim of his own facade, fantasies and greed. He was never what he was portrayed, then and now. He was never a saint and neither is he a rapist. He is trapped in a skin not his own. We couldnt stop people from hailing him as God, as much as we cannot stop them from calling him a devil. Alas. It is too late now!!
मीडिया क्षेत्र के जाने-माने नाम महेश्वर पेरी के फेसबुक वॉल से.