How ‘Fake Jhunjhunwala’ writer Aditya Magal impressed the ‘real’ Jhunjhunwala

07 Jun,2012

By Sruthijith KK


On Tuesday, 26-year-old Aditya Magal nervously walked into the Nariman Point offices of billionaire investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala. Most people who looked up from their terminals didn’t glance a second time, possibly concluding that the boy-faced youngster must be an internship-seeker at Rare Enterprises. But Jhunjhunwala himself took a keen interest in Magal, seating him in his private office, enquiring about his background, his family, his stylish haircut and his girlfriends.


As word about the young visitor spread, Jhunjhunwala’s colleagues – hardnosed traders and analysts – streamed into his office to meet Magal. They shook hands with him. Everyone smiled. Some said they were fans. Magal’s stock was on the rise. The encounter, facilitated by ET, saw uproarious moments.


For four-and-a-half years, unknown to everyone, Magal has been Fake Jhunjhunwala, the anonymous writer behind ‘The Secret Journal of Rakesh Jhunjhunwala’, a popular parody blog that tore into people in the news – politicians, actors, journalists, other stock market players, anyone – with biting sarcasm.


He caricatured the identity of Jhunjhunwala, an opinionated ace stock picker with interesting quirks, into a loud, wildly entertaining character who spared none. His blog gets 30,000 unique visitors a month.


Magal’s Twitter account is followed by more than 45,000. Even his online fan club has 2,500 followers on Twitter. Well-known people on Twitter, such as Gul Panag and Pritish Nandy, are amused by his writing.


Not everyone’s amused though. Like some journalists, who were mercilessly taken down by the Fake Jhunjhunwala, who then called the real Jhunjhunwala to complain. “I told them I don’t write it,” the real Jhunjhunwala said. “Then they wanted to know who wrote it. Arrey, how do I know?”


Kingfisher boss Vijay Mallya once told Jhunjhunwala that he liked to start his day by reading his tweets. “The first time I didn’t say anything. Then, another time he again said, ‘Rakeshbhai, you are very funny, what all you keep tweeting?’ Then I told him I don’t write it,” Jhunjhunwala said.


In his column in The Indian Express, editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta mistakenly attributed Fake Jhunjhunwala’s tweet to the real Jhunjhunwala, to illustrate the prejudices and dominance of the “upper caste, creamy layer of our society”. The newspaper later apologised.


Magal carries clear disclaimers on both his Twitter bio and his blog. And as long as he does that, Jhunjhunwala says, he has no problems with what he writes. “Who am I? You have a right to express yourself. And you are saying you are not me. Then what is the problem?” In a country where people compete to take offence, Magal picked the right man to parody.


As it happened, Magal didn’t pick Jhunjhunwala. The blog was started in 2008 by Mark Fidelman, an American who then worked in Indian real estate. Inspired by the success of the Fake Steve Jobs blog, Fidelman created the blog as a platform to vent his frustrations with India after his business here suffered. After three months, Fidelman told Magal, who he knew through a business association, about the blog, and asked him to take over. Magal says he started laughing.


“I have been following Rakesh sir since the time I was 20 or so. I was following a number of investors and gradually, what Rakesh sir said started making the most sense for me.” Magal dabbled in the stock markets and like countless retail investors before him, was taken in by Jhunjhunwala’s knowledge and his uncanny ability to make the right bets.


If he was a follower before, writing the blog for four years turned Magal into something of a devotee. He has read and watched nearly every interview the investor has given. He knows everything there is to know about Jhunjhunwala, from the year his sister got married to the architect of his Lonavala home. From the brands of cigarettes and whiskeys he prefers to the Mercedes S Class he drives. “Why, I also have a Bentley,” Jhunjhunwala helped along, amused by Magal’s grasp of J-trivia. But Magal knows not just trivia about Jhunjhunwala. He also knows his investment portfolio closely.


But Magal’s natural funny side is more often on display. At lunch with this correspondent, he recited a poem: “Jhunjhunwala goes to Lonavala to live in a house by Killawala.” Nitin Killawala is the architect. In Jhunjhunwala’s office, as his colleagues gathered around to meet the famous blogger, Magal parodied Jhunjhunwala’s TV appearances. His habit of talking up the India story, the peculiar way in which he says ‘humongous’. Everyone laughed.


When Jhunjhunwala lit another cigarette, Magal told him that he should cut down on his smoking. “What is this sir? Earlier in interviews you used to say you smoked 10-15 cigarettes. Now you say 20-25. And you have stopped doing yoga.” Jhunjhunwala demonstrated some yoga-style breathing for him.


The atmosphere was warm and convivial. When Magal sought permission to click some pictures of his office, Jhunjhunwala readily agreed. “Please, please, do. Click whatever you want Aditya, we are simple people.”


Jhunjhunwala found Magal so funny that he saved his number as ‘Aditya Joker’ on his phone. “You are a natural joker. You have a talent for humour,” he said.


Niraj Dalal, who works with Jhunjhunwala, said he was relieved to meet Magal. “People used to suspect it’s me!” Jhunjhunwala said he also thought the writer was someone who knew him closely or worked with him. “There were things only seven or eight of us would know and that would be on the blog. That used to unnerve us,” Dalal said.


Jhunjhunwala asked Magal what he wanted to do in life. “Write books and help people. The moment I have a plot ready in my head, I’ll drop everything and write a book,” he said.


Jhunjhunwala wished him the best. Magal invited Jhunjhunwala to visit his Bangalore home sometime. “Surely. Will you invite me for your wedding?” Certainly, Magal said. “Will you come in a helicopter, sir?”


Magal told Jhunjhunwala that he would love to write his autobiography if he ever considered writing one. The investor was hesitant. “Why should we self-glorify? Let’s see when it comes to that.”


Magal gifted him two Ganesha idols, which Jhunjhunwala is known to collect. He asked a colleague to place the brass idol alongside dozens of idols on a shelf in his office. The other one, a sandalwood idol, he placed right in front of him, along the five monitors on his desk that he uses to watch the movements of his empire of wealth.


Before Magal left, Jhunjhunwala asked him if there was anything he could do to help. “I’d be foolish not to ask you for investment advice. But then I’m not a pretty girl and you are not tipsy,” Magal said, referring to a wisecrack Jhunjhunwala made during an interview regarding his rule about stock tips. Jhunjhunwala made an exception, and gave him a stock tip. “Buy.”


As he rode the elevator down and got into the waiting cab, Magal was overjoyed. When he walked in, he didn’t know what to expect. “I can now cross off one item on my bucket list,” he said.


Source: The Economic Times
Copyright © 2012, Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All Rights Reserved


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One response to “How ‘Fake Jhunjhunwala’ writer Aditya Magal impressed the ‘real’ Jhunjhunwala”

  1. Vidya Heble says:

    Sigh. SIGH. Nothing to do with Jhunjhunwala or Magal but with this: “Magal dabbled in the stock markets and like countless retail investors before him, was taken in by Jhunjhunwala’s knowledge and his uncanny ability to make the right bets.” – Have we forgotten what “taken in by” means? It means “fooled by”. What the writer should have said is “taken with”. I’ve seen this mistake more than once in recent times and I think it’s like a virus – one person uses it and it gets picked up and replicated by everyone who reads that and can string the letters of the alphabet together. Grr.