23 January, 2021

If You Were To Write An Epitaph...

The war of words between two heavyweights of Hindi literature.

Prashant Panjiar
If You Were To Write An Epitaph...
The war of words between two heavyweights of Hindi literature is beginning to read like a railway-platform potboiler. Ashok Maheshwari, owner of leading Hindi publishing house Rajkamal Prakashan, has been accused by Gagan Gill, widow of celebrated author Nirmal Verma, who died in October ’05, of cheating. According to Gill, Rajkamal Prakashan failed to send Verma any royalty statement for the past three years, and for the past five years only sent him an advance royalty of a paltry Rs 5,000 a year—a mere fraction of what he’d earned in the previous years. Gill says she repeatedly asked Maheshwari for royalty accounts, but to no avail. How can Rajkamal Prakashan go from strength to strength (it’s buying the Lok Bharati publishing house in Allahabad for Rs 1 crore), she asks, even as royalty payments to its authors dwindle year by year?

In a poignant new twist to the tale, Gill revealed that 10 days before his death, a distraught Verma had removed his oxygen mask in hospital to telephone Maheshwari and ask, "Are you in a conspiracy against me?" Maheshwari does not deny...



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