In 2014, businesswoman and wife of politician Shashi Tharoor, Sunanda Pushkar was found dead in her hotel suite in New Delhi. Five years later, The Extraordinary Life and Death of Sunanda Pushkar (Rs 599, Pan Macmillan) by journalist Sunanda Mehta, has chronicled her life, from her early days in cantonment towns, to her first two marriages, a largely unknown stint in Canada, her rise as a Dubai businesswoman, and her much-publicised years with Tharoor until her controversial death. The book was launched on Tuesday at Delhi’s India International Centre to a full house.
The author, who has worked with The Indian Express for over two decades and was the Resident Editor of the newspaper’s Pune edition, was in conversation with journalist Nalini Singh and retired IPS officer Meeran Chadha Borwankar. The discussion was moderated by journalist Kaveree Bamzai. Mehta, who was Pushkar’s classmate, said, “I was myself surprised about the objectivity and distance I could keep. I’ve been a journalist for almost 30 years now, so it did feel like an extension of my work. But there were moments, like when I was talking to her son Shiv in Dubai, then the friend in me took over and the author took a backseat. And when I saw the photographs of her body as it was found at the Leela, I couldn’t write for a while.”
Singh was one of the last people to have a conversation with the deceased. The book she said is “a chronicle of a death foretold in the 21st century sensationalist media”. Talking about the culture of Delhi, she said, “A fake world is brewing under our feet and we are doing nothing about it. In Delhi, fake is real.” Borwankar added that the pressure of the media and frenzy that comes along with such cases makes simple cases complex. “The case had a chargesheet of 3,000 pages, and saw three IPS officers and numerous SITs. In the end, the family has still not got closure and it is still making news,” said Mehta.