RIP CRIME & DETECTIVE
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.