Saturday, September 17, 2005

Welcoming Jebbit (and gush gush gush)

Okay, I haven’t plugged any blogs in a long time but this is very welcome news: via Uma, a link to Jebbit, a blog set up by Jaideep Varma as a storehouse for the music pieces he wrote for Gentleman magazine between 1998 and 2001. I’m excited about this because one of my earliest encounters with seriously good feature writing in an Indian newspaper/magazine (still a rarity, incidentally) came via the pieces written by Jaideep, Leslie Mathew, Amit and a few others for Gentleman. I loved that magazine (I still have copies of most of the issues from that period) and the articles on music in particular, and strongly recommend most of what’s archived here - especially in the “Great Songwriters” sub-blog. (A personal favourite was Jaideep’s piece on REM, partly because no one else around me seemed to have the same regard for their great album Up as I did.)

Now get off this site and go read.


  1. Any hopes of "Gentleman" making a comeback? Or at least a mag that is close to it.

    The articles on musci were truly good.


  2. Thanks Jai, for this. Really appreciate all that you said. Good to connect like this. I enjoy your writing and blog too, so this is a pleasant surprise for me.
    And Anon, no, I don't think a magazine like Gentleman is ever going to come together again in mainstream media. Not a chance in hell. The media scene is one big dishonest, corporatised joke today. Maybe it could happen on the web, but eventual commercial interests will prevent that too. Let's keep connecting on blogs like Jai's, and maybe we can have a little taste of what we keep missing.


  3. i have been in the publishing business for a while now, on the other side of the journalism fence though.

    indian publishing business is characterised by a phenomenon which distinguishes it from the rest of the world. it is completely driven on the model of advertising revenue subsidising the cover price.

    for this to work, there have to be sufficient numbers in terms of readership for advertisers to get interested in reaching that audience. (hence the focus groups and market research, which obviously the journalists dont think is sensible enough)

    'quality' publications like gentleman find it difficult to straddle this divide. their cover price is not high enough to cover the production and the content cost and their circulation is not high enough to attract advertisers. which is why they are usually short run.

    there is another magazine in the same cateogry, called Mans World. i do not want this to peter out into a debate of whether mans world is good or not, but it does work in the same segment as Gentleman. they have managed to keep themselves afloat and are running quite smoothly right now.

    so is it possible to launch and sustain a magazine like gentleman, most definitely. it takes a bit of an imagination on the business end of such ventures for it to work. which more often than not is found lacking or in some cases vehemently opposed by the journalists. taali bajne ke liye do haath lagte hain

  4. This should be interesting. And Jaideep, what you say is unfortunately true in most cases.

  5. Jai, nothing to do with your post. Just wanted to say that I pretty much got sick of being in hiding, so you can link now - as Laura, of course. Though I doubt this will be anonymous at all, in the long or short run. But never mind, will burn the bridge when I come to it, methinks.:)

  6. Hi theidiot, your point is well taken, and I agree that this shouldn't generate into a Man's World vs Gentleman debate but there is something to be said there. Gentleman, in the last three years of its existence, was a literary magazine in soul; there was a genuine desire to explore and examine (whatever the quality was, and it was erratic). No other magazine in India has had 30-35 pages devoted to a cover story every issue, the way the Gentleman of those last few months did. Man's World, on the other hand, is a glossy lifestyle magazine, dressed up with a few literary elements. The fact that they are seen to be in the same segment by marketing people (and it is not illogical, i agree), in my opinion, exemplifies everything that is wrong with the marketing gaze. Gentleman made a big mistake by often getting too esoteric with its cover stories in its last year, thereby losing the confidence of its funders. But, to compare Man's World and Gentleman is a big mistake because I can assure you when Man's World dies (and it will, sooner or later), you will not notice even 10% of the affection and regret that Gentleman evokes today. I think Gentleman struck such a chord because of its intent, rather than its content. That intent is a rarity, especially today, and will remain so, as long as marketing continues to play the role it is playing.


  7. Jaideep,

    What do you think of the media in general, and particularly the way books are handled?

  8. Given that you've chosen to stay anonymous, I can't help thinking this is a bait from someone I know (and I think I know who it is). I won't take the bait, instead guide you to excerpts from my interview on the blog of my book Local. The last part of that will answer your question, genuine or not.


  9. I don't think MW will die but it has already transmuted into far more of an ad-driven cop out. It no longer does those wonderful long features and if you notice, the decent writers have gradually disappeared.

    Gentleman is very unlikely to come together again. The two blokes who ran it fell out and one of them, who has a real talent for finding unusual writers is now running Wisden Asia. Sambit's strike rate at
    this is truly exceptional and I'll watch anything he does with interest.

    The other one, who IMHO, had the really unusual ideas has disappeared but I think part of his final settlement with Express involved keeping the title. Rajeeb, if you're out there somewhere and you read this, please get in touch!!


  10. marketing is an inescapable reality. its time the journalists get used to it, and dont see it as evil. the quicker they do, the better it is.

    work with the marketing guys instead of labelling them all as dishonest and corporate jokers.

    and that ad driven cop out called Mans World is still running as against Gentleman which chose to run a 35 page cover stories (35 pages? for gods sake its a magazine cover story, not readers digest abridged book section. not even new yorker runs cover stories that long)

    i would presume that the worth of any publication is in the present and not in nostalgia. nostalgia doesnt pay your bills.

    - a marketing professional

  11. MW was actually making more money before it went the ad cop-out route.
    Gentleman was also making money when it closed down - it was the Express group that went through buggery not the mag itself.
    The problem with "marketing professionals" is that they are frequently bad at their jobs. Good marketing pros aren't difficult to work with. It helps when they realise that mags sell on the basis of content - even if every unpaid word on the pages hurts them viscerally.

    DD - (a professional retiree)

  12. hey theidiot, you work in MW, don't you?


  13. samirnath,
    no i dont
    so thats that...