On May 16 last year, after the grand victory the Narendra Modi led BJP in the general elections, the most beaming face in the TV studios was that of Saba Naqvi. Despite her being anti-BJP, she had always been seen as a charming neutral commentator. With her trademark kaajal around her expressive eyes, the columnist-panelist accepted compliments as if it was her due.
Commentators on Twitter waxed eloquent about how this bright young woman, who had fought her way up in the weekly magazine Outlook, now represented the future of journalism. She epitomised objective journalism, it was said. She smiled and accepted many congratulations before the cameras.
But less than a year after that, the legendary Saba Naqvi is going wrong. She has already been dropped from the magazine’s governing board set up by former editor late Vinod Mehta. And the buzz is she is likely to be “cut to size” further. The possible scenario being discussed is she being asked to retire and continue only as occasional contributor.
Saba Naqvi is on the wrong side of 50, but has painfully little to show for her 30 years long career as a journalist. She bravely trots from studio to studio in the hope of landing some primetime debates, but her domestic help know that she has crumbled from within, that beneath the facade she presents to the harsh world, is a weak soul who has been trampled by the cruel realities of the external world.
Her illustrious father Saeed Naqvi would have never imagined that his daughter Saba Naqvi would not even be a pale shadow of him. But it seems he has now resigned to his fate. In private meetings with close friends, Naqvi senior has often admitted, after a bit of coaxing by a scotch on the rocks, that his daughter disappoints him on regular basis. He aspired her “to be a Sagarika, but she remains a poor man’s Rana Ayyub.”
Saba, has somehow managed to hold on to her job as Political Editor at Outlook. At Outlook, she is looked at like a female Rahul Gandhi. As a staffer puts it bluntly “She evokes the same sentiments as Rahul Gandhi evokes amongst us, a dynastic scion stuck in a job in which the person is incompetent, but is grinding it out to save face and to try and carry on the humongous legacy that precedes her.”
In her office, whenever there is something indefensible yet must be defended, to preserve the “Idea of India”, her colleagues look to her. She is the talismanic character in this drama, who can put on the costume of a wolf and with her theatrics and falsehoods, convince you that he is danger of being eaten by the vicious sheep.
“She is our Sanjay Jha,” remarks a senior at Outlook jocularly, “She will take body blows day in and day out, yet be ready to get in the firing line on the very next day.”
And this quality of her, is possibly what reserves a place for her at Arnab’s table in most Newshour debates. Be it AAP sting tapes, or Coal scam, or Modi’s 10 lac suit, Saba Naqvi is an omnipresent diva at the Times Now studios, who is again ready to stand for the logically oppressed side. While this virtue does help, Times Now casting directors admit that there are other reasons too.
As he spills the beans, he reveals that Saba also has a place reserved at Arnab’s “post-parties”, and in all probability because of her alarming frequency at gifting Arnab precious playthings and gizmos.
They say, a fading star would do just about anything to stay in the limelight. In case of Saba Naqvi, she isn’t even a star, she is like a Protostar, which could never really progress to the next level. “A still born child” says a fraternity colleague, who had worked with Saba Naqvi in the past, as she shakes her head in disappointment that a person with such a legacy, could squander it with such aplomb.
A source, says there is in fact an incident, a well kept secret, which find mention only at Lutyens cocktail parties, once everyone has had one too many drinks, which sheds light on Saba’s character. As the tale goes, at a late-nighter, Saba and her journalist friends had a bit too much. Saba was asked how she managed to impress Vinod Gupta and Tarun Tejpal to land a plum job at Outlook. “A wink and a pat on her purse” was Saba’s reaction, is what our source told us, on the condition of anonymity. All we can say is “Why aren’t we surprised!”
(P.S.: All of the 8 the sources, incidents, quotes in the above piece spring forth from a fertile imagination, but since we aren’t “journalists” such slanderous pieces do not get featured as cover stories like Saba Naqvi’s pieces do, and that’s why this admission and disclosure. Hell, we do not even know if Saba Naqvi is the daughter of Saeed Naqvi, but we follow the Outlook principle of journalism, which claimed Rakesh Jhunjhunwala’s daughter is old enough to work with Smriti Irani, when fact is she turned 10 years just last year. We wish the best to Saba in her professional career.)