This was no candle in the wind…by Pritish Nandy

I have been a keen observer of the Royal Family and have devoured Kitty Kelley’s take on the Royals with utmost glee. Reading about the antics of the Duke of Edinburgh in the gardens of Windsor castle has been intriguing to say the least amongst his other adventures. I stumbled upon this blog on Princess Di recently and thought of putting it up here. Lady Di was one I admired greatly but I must add there are certain points made in this blog which I agree with, some I don’t. Nevertheless, I found this blog quite fascinating. Pritish Nandy at his irrepressible best! Read on!

Let me start this column with two confessions.

One, I always found Diana Spencer a very attractive woman. She was clever, manipulative, outrageously good looking. Above all, she had attitude. Oodles of it. Two, I am not a great admirer of intrusive journalism. Though, in all honesty, I must also state upfront that I have never hesitated, as an editor, to carry out investigations simply because they intruded into the private lives of public people. Protecting powerful people was not my job. Exposing them was.

Now we come to Diana’s death. It is undoubtedly the biggest media event of the nineties. Bosnia has taken a backseat. The passing away of Mother Teresa went unnoticed for the first few days. Even Nadeem, Bombay’s current headline grabber, lost out to the English rose. No one got so much media hype after James Dean and Marilyn Monroe.

The assassins? Well, as far as the whole world is concerned, the assassins have already been identified. It is the media. The paparazzi who invaded her privacy with their snooping telescopic lenses. The tabloids who refused to let her get off the frontpage. The reporters who ruthlessly pursued her wherever she went. The publishers who made millions of dollars from her grief and her loneliness, that drove her into the arms of people no one would be dead seen with.

Co-conspirators to the crime are, of course, the royal family which (most people believe, even in Britain) treated her unjustly. It was a saas bahu confrontation, as they saw it. Charles was merely a bit player. So was her sauten the grotesque Camila Parker-Bowles. No one even mentions the fact that few husbands would have gone to Paris to bring back the mortal remains of a wife who was enjoying a dirty weekend in Paris with a rich Arab boyfriend.

But is it true? Was the paparazzi guilty of a crime that never took place? Can a small bunch of motorcyclists desperately trying to get a sexy shot of their quarry — the gorgeous princess cuddling up to a boringly rich millionaire — be accused of murder, simply because they were hunting down a photo opportunity that would normally elude the hired fat cats of Fleet Street?

It is no use saying: Who wants these dirty pictures? People do. There is enough evidence to prove this. And, let us all admit it, what happens in the bedrooms of the rich and the mighty always influence history and politics more than anything else. Take the case of the Kennedys and you will know what I mean. Take the case of the Bhuttos. If the paparazzi had actually clicked Asif Zardari with his secret mistress tucked away in London, Benazir would not have looked such a fool in Parliament, denying that they (the Bhuttos) had bought this fancy castle in Surrey for which priceless antiques were being smuggled out of Pakistan. She would have found out a long time back that Zardari was a cunning, greedy, unreliable political ally and not just a philandering husband. It would have spared her a lot of anguish and embarrassment. Who knows, she may not have lost the elections if she was armed with this information.

Fellini may have portrayed them as wastepaper in La Dolce Vita. But the paparazzi is important in our search for truth. Without them, the media cannot function. Without them, your newspapers will be full of ceremonial pictures of ribbon cutting dignitaries and smiling hoods masquerading as political leaders. Your movie magazines will carry only planted stories about who is having an affair with whom, timed precisely to benefit the box office fortunes of forthcoming films. Truth will take a backseat to commerce and influence. You will never get to know what is actually happening.

Without the paparazzi would you have known that Ted Kennedy’s adulterous ways had driven his wife to alcoholism, that Claudia Schiffer and David Copperfield’s fairy tale romance was just another publicity stunt for which they paid each other fancy annual fees, that most of the major Italian designers were playing footsie with the Mob, that Imran Khan had fathered a child out of wedlock even as he was spouting long sermons on spiritualism and morality. That the princess of Wales was sleazing in Paris with an Arab in tow — after having run through a stable boy, a security guard, a polo player, a rugby captain, a Pakistani doctor and a single Sardar more known for his flashy ways than his entrepreneurial skills.

The paparazzi were only doing a job. In fact, they were risking their lives for this job. Chasing an armoured Mercedes with an armed bodyguard in front is not exactly the easiest way to make a living when all you are armed with is a beat-up motorcycle and a cheap Nikon. They could have been run over, shot, pushed off the road, killed easily. But they took this risk to capture a photo opportunity. All Dodi had to do was ask his drunken driver to speed down. He could have drawn back the curtains, smiled at them.

It would not have killed him. His relationship with the princess was already well publicised. Being photographed together is not exactly a sin in the land of the Spice Girls, where he and his buccaneer father had sought citizenship and social legitimacy.

Alternatively, he could have drawn his curtains tight, put out the lights and driven off. The paparazzi would have instantly figured that no photo opportunity existed. After trailing them for a while, they would have trailed off. There are very few motorcycles around that can cope with the quiet power of a Mercedes hellbent on outspeeding them. But Dodi and the princess, it appears, did exactly what all celebrities do. They teased the paparazzi, taunted them, encouraged them, gave them hope and then tried to speed off. This is not exactly the easiest thing in the world to do when your driver is drunk and high on fluoxetine and tiapride, as subsequent blood tests on Henri Paul have revealed.

This is the danger in not knowing how to cope with sudden fame and notoriety. Particularly when they come by association with a gorgeous woman who owns the headlines almost by birthright. Dodi succumbed to that danger and paid for it with his life — and the life of the princess. If it was not him, it could have been one of the paparazzi. Or maybe all of them, given the state of his driver. It needs more than money and an armoured limousine to know how to cope with the media.

Once the bodyguard recovers, we will perhaps know what the truth was. We will hear the sequence of events. We will read different interpretations of what happened and why. But the princess is bathed in such white light today that we are unlikely to ever get an honest, truthful version. The media will, typically, self flagellate. The poor paparazzi will be widely abused and beaten up by whoever gets an opportunity– for they are the softest target. Hollywood will scream and rant and use this opportunity to self promote its own interests. Movies will be made, offering new versions of the tragedy. New books will hit the stands. The Internet will be full of new sites.

And Elton John will earn $ 15 million for Diana’s pet charities by merely re-recording an old song he once wrote for Marilyn Monroe, to show how every tragedy has this curious habit of repeating itself. No, I do not believe England will be lost without Diana’s soul. I do not think the English rose will bloom beyond the next tragedy. I do not think that the stars will spell out her name. All I think will happen is that Dodi’s father will ride the sympathy wave to get the citizenship he has long lusted for. Ever since he bought Harrods.

In the era of liberalisation, the greedy guys always win.


18 Responses to “This was no candle in the wind…by Pritish Nandy”

  1. i hope u not a twin sister of Arnab Goswami( of Times NOW fame)..who rapes public figures ( sply Politicians) on his News Channel cause he has a licence of being a so called journalist. Lol…

    On a serious note.. i do not agree with you when u give a clean chit to the Media( specially the paparazzi) …. i wish you could have mentioned atleast one line about the Charity work that Late Princes Diana has done….

    I know.. NO ONE IS PERFECT.. including Late Princes Diana..and U and Me….

  2. i hope u not a twin sister of Arnab Goswami( of Times NOW fame)..who rapes public figures ( sply Politicians) on his News Channel cause he has a licence of being a so called journalist. Lol…

    On a serious note.. i do not agree with you when u give a clean chit to the Media( specially the paparazzi) …. i wish you could have mentioned atleast one line about the Charity work that Late Princes Diana has done….

    I know.. NO ONE IS PERFECT.. including Late Princes Diana..and U and Me….

    • Asam. I have not written this blog. This is by Pritish Nandy which I have pasted here. Hope this clears any confusion of me being Arnab’s twin sister!

  3. Anand Khare Says:

    Very informative blog by PN for a change. Congrats for a fresh topic after a stint of stale ones.

    Di is undoubtedly the most cherished princess of GB till date. Princess Camilla could not replace her in the people’s heart so far. After more than ten years of her death , the first name of the British royal family that comes to a common man’s mind is still ‘Diana’.BTW, what is the name of new one recently married to Diana’s son?

    She virtually ruled the world by her looks and demeanor. Possibly, The most celebrated celebrity, she was.Arguably, the most experienced also.

    • The new one is Kate Middleton, now the Duchess of Cambridge. Agree with your thoughts on Di, but I feel Kate will fill her shoes, one way or the other.

  4. Muraliraja Says:

    Fantastic post! Thanks Sharmila for sharing this.

  5. Things that make me feel old (apart from the above post) –

    Mother Theresa and Lady Diana have been dead for 14 years.

    Aishwarya Rai was crowned Miss World 17 years ago.

    Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge was released 16 years ago.

    Windows XP was released TEN years ago, in 2001.

    Pierce Brosnan last acted as James Bond 9 years ago.

    The Delhi Metro has been running for 9 Years now.

    It’s been 10 years since 9/11

    The Matrix came out 12 years ago, Keanu Reeves is 46 today

    Macaulay Culkin is 30 today. “Home Alone” came out over 20 years ago.

    Terminator 2 is 20 years old. Edward Furlong who portrayed kid John Connor is 33 now.

    Sean Connery is 80 years old and retired.

    The youngest Spice Girl is 35, the oldest Backstreet Boy 39, Gwen Stefani is 41, Madonna 52

    The first Harry Potter book came out 14 years ago!

    Akshay Kumar is older than the moon landing – He was born in 1967

    Arnold Schwarzenegger is older than India . He was born in June 1947

    ‘Kids’ born in 1993 can legally drive, drink and vote this year.

    Rajiv Gandhi has been dead for 20 years.

    Bryan Adams’ cult song “Summer of 69″ was released 26 years ago.

    Facebook has been around for 7 years. Orkut for 9.

    Remember the little girl from Kuch Kuch Hota Hai? She is 23 now.

    The Maruti Zen was first introduced 18 years ago.

    • Anand Khare Says:


      It is unbelievable but true. When I graduated from ‘bachche’ to ‘bhaiya’, I felt great. But now every tom, dick, harry address me as ‘uncle’. Painful. Just waiting for the day when they would just change to ‘Baba’.

      It is 25 years since I passed college. One close friend recently visited college and hostel on nostalgic trip. He was surprised to experience that he knew nobody there and vice-versa. The only relief was a tea vendor where we used to sit for a cutting tea and a cigarette during bunked classes. The person who was in teens that time is a matured gentleman like us. Thankfully he remembered all of us and asked him our whereabouts and was very happy to know the achievements.


  6. Sigh.. I know the feeling Reader.. 😦

  7. There you go:

    Another scam in the offing:

    20 billion tons of coal given away by the Prime Minister’s office at a loss of INR 40 lakh crores which is INR 40,000,000,000,000/- In US dollars that is USD 800 trillion. Is that big enough? Or just one of the many things that Sonio’s enterprise is indulging in?

    Is that corruption, or just resources used more efficiently than the tribal Indians know? Merely tax evasion and money laundering or daylight robbery?

    Shall I write a poem or support Baba Rambo’s army?

  8. Anand Khare Says:


    Diana and others believed in Indian philosophy of love,


  9. Good one Anand,

    I was going to put up this one.

    • Anand Khare Says:

      I know, this one is your favorite. It completely suits the post.


      • I love the second verse:

        Pal bhar ko na hum aaraam karen,
        Doh haath hazaaron kaam karen

        Kismet ki shikaayat kya karna
        Bhagwaan ko kyon badnaam karen,

        Ik roz hamaare haathon se
        Badlega zamaana lagata hai….

      • thank you for your comment on the TOI blog.Look forward to hearing more of your thoughts here.

  10. Sharmila,

    I don’t mean to discourage you. Please take this as a feedback.

    In your last ten posts on TOI, there is only one post that leaves the readers with a positive feeling. That was the one about Rajni. The rest are all depressing in style and statement. The latest one with the video is almost grotesque.

    This is bound to harm you more than the readership. Your skills at calumny (and the vocabulary associated with that) is getting honed and refined. It does not assure a good grounding for personal pride.

    Hope you don’t get me wrong.

  11. Letmewatchthis Movies…

    im impressed by the quality of information on this webpage. there are a great deal of beneficial sources the following. i’m sure i will pay a visit to this put again quickly…

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