RIP CRIME & DE­TEC­TIVE

India Today - - LEISURE - —Kai Friese

There’s good news and there’s bad news—and let’s face it, the bad news is usu­ally more fun to read. Ex­cept when it isn’t. So brace your­self for some bad, bad news: Crime & De­tec­tive mag­a­zine is no more. This will come as a rude shock to many read­ers, par­tic­u­larly army per­son­nel, res­i­dents of the north­east and a le­gion of ironic hip­sters, pun­sters, wits and wags and, well, mostly men.

The fact is that C&D was a luridly en­ter­tain­ing and bril­liant mag­a­zine but also some­thing of a guilty ad­dic­tion for thou­sands. For this writer, like count­less oth­ers, it was a favourite com­pan­ion on rail­way jour­neys, where, shrouded in the anonymity of tran­sit, one could revel in the re­lent­less as­sault of head­lines un­veil­ing the most sala­cious crimes from the heav­ing un­der­belly of our great na­tion. Farid­abad: “Aunty’s sin­ful re­la­tion with nephew led to un­cle’s death.” Ram­pur: “May the Almighty save par­ents from such daugh­ters.” Muzaf­far­na­gar: “Lost in mad love the woman com­mit­ted in­cred­i­ble crime.” Raipur: “Paramour proved more im­por­tant than hus­band.” Delhi: “Dou­ble life of a woman: two hus­band and two re­li­gion.”

Even bet­ter were the famed ‘photo comics’, tit­il­lat­ing moral­ity tales scripted and di­rected by C&D’s ex­ec­u­tive ed­i­tor Shail­abh Rawat. Their dis­tinc­tive stag­ing, part Ram­say Brothers part Kabhi Saas Kabhi Bahu il­lu­mi­nated by speech bub­bles of in­spired word­play (en­hanced by the un­in­tended fe­lic­i­ties of trans­la­tion) have long had a cult fol­low­ing of their own. The themes were var­ied and dar­ing, rang­ing from cau­tion­ary tales of lust­ful god­men to sweetly un­der­stand­ing ser­mons on trans­ves­tites and BDSM.

How could such a whole­some and in­no­cent plea­sure meet such an un­timely end? And who­dunit? Rawat says the axe fell after some ‘le­gal and tech­ni­cal prob­lem’ with dis­tri­bu­tion in the North­east, which (along with can­ton­ments and rail­way plat­forms) ac­counted for the bulk of the mag­a­zine’s mar­ket.

All is not lost how­ever. C&D’s sis­ter, the Hindi monthly Mad­hur Kathayen, which was also the source of the pho­to­comics, re­mains in rude health with a read­er­ship of 5 mil­lion ac­cord­ing to Rawat. And while the trou­bled end of their English mag­a­zine was un­set­tling for the pub­lish­ers, Nai Sadi Prakashan, they are now con­tem­plat­ing a re­launch of C&D as a dig­i­tal pub­li­ca­tion. Some good news after all.

Images cour­tesy NAI SADI PRAKASHAN

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