Mr and Mrs Jinnah by Sheela Reddy

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It is with immense effort that I completed reading this book titled Mr and Mrs Jinnah by Sheela Reddy, classified as non fiction.  Little did I realise that I had so much of perseverance until I reached the last page of this book.  I started reading this book hoping to get a realistic idea about the personal and political life of Mohammed Ali Jinnah. All I could understand after reading this book of 421 pages is that Jinnah was ‘tall and thin with chiselled features’ and wore clothes stitched from Paris and his wife who was years younger to him was ‘dainty, warm and spontaneous’!(This same description of the two individuals was repeated many times in this book) Somehow I could sympathise with neither young Ruttie nor old Jinnah.

Sheela Reddy is a journalist by profession  and has somehow distorted many facts and added her own imagination to fill the gaps in the facts. Her repetitive narration is boring and painful. How many times do you need to describe the coat and tie that Jinnah wears? How many accounts of Mrs Jinnah wearing transparent saree with sleeveless blouse is needed to convince the readers? The author has assumed her own reasons for the behaviour of Ruttie or Jinnah in many instances. This sort of speculation which is practised by media personnel does no good to a narration which is supposed to be based on historical facts. The whole book, as the author claims is based on letters sent by Sarojini Naidu and her daughters. It would have been a much more satisfying experience to have those letters published as such, rather than this book where the author’s understanding of those letters are penned.

On page 193, it goes like this; ” For Ruttie, his long interview splashed in the newspaper the following Monday might have appeared embarrassingly like self promotion.” Why should the author assume what Ruttie thought? This is supposedly a book based on facts and not speculations. Another example is “Jinnah’s expressions must have shamed her into stopping” . There is no supporting evidence to many of the instances mentioned in this book,other than the ones the author has presumed from the letters that has been sent or received by Ruttie or somebody else.

This book failed to evoke any sense of empathy towards Ruttie or Jinnah. Had it been a fictional work, it would have been justified to include so many ‘must haves’ and ‘might haves’ . For a story which could be told in less than 100 pages, the author has miserably taken more than four hundred! It is a waste of time and money to read this book trying to get a glimpse of Indian history and life of Mr and Mrs Jinnah.

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