by MANOJ JOSHI
Irony, a sharp defence of the freedom of speech, and a sense of vindication were written all across the closing gala dinner keynote address at the Eleventh India Today Conclave on Saturday.
The man who was to deliver it – Pakistan cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan – stayed away because of the presence of Salman Rushdie, the author of, among other works, The Satanic Verses.
Rushdie filled in for Khan and made sure that no one would forget why.
Speaking before a who’s who turnout, Rushdie could hardly have been blamed for his assault on Khan. Among his more cutting observations was that ‘I would placed a substantial bet that he has not read it’ (The Satanic Verses) and that ‘back in the days when Imran was a playboy in London, he was called Im the Dim’.
The remark evoked ripples of laughter and applause from his audience comprising, among others, business leaders Adi Godrej, Malvinder and Shivinder Singh, and Rajan Mittal, young MPs Jay Panda and Kalikesh Singh Deo, noted lawyers Soli Sorabjee and Fali Nariman, visiting UK minister Vince Cable, and Bollywood star Kangna Ranaut.
Daily Mail for more
(Thanks to Salim Amersi)