Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Fourth Estate

Yesterday, I happened to catch a little bit of Fareed Zakaria interviewing James Baker on CNN. I don't know much about US politics (hell I don’t know too much about Indian politics) and to be honest, I am not hugely interested in it either (Yes, sometimes I do live up to the femme stereotype of not being turned on by politics or high finance.).

Anyways I digress, in-spite of this general lukewarm interest and all that, I still paid more attention to this show, then I have ever been tempted to pay to any of our local media friends - whether it’s the Banshee Murkha or Demented Dazedeep or obstreperous Earnumb (*any resemblance to anyone living or dead is purely coincidental) .

Mr. Zakaria is certainly an Indian albeit has probably been bred in foreign media climes. As are the BDE and their ilk – so why is there such a stark, almost cultural difference in reporting?

The former is almost statesman-like in his dignity, yet incisive and intelligent in the way he handles his programme, and his guests. He talks yes, but more than that he allows his guests to state their view. If he disagrees, he does so politely, and precisely. He does not try and outshout them to get the point across. He certainly does not try and force feed his opinions and gets the guest to change his/her stance. The latter, well the less said about them the better, loud hysteria, aggressive confrontational tactics, music, melodrama.

The new-casters are no longer just vessels that convey news – blandly as in the
Komal G.B. Singh era. They have become dramatis personae in their own right, a one actor play and the newsroom is the stage. That’s the only way one can explain the fact that in one half an hour segment with six panellists, the host newscaster monopolizes, nay, outshouts and corners the stage for at least 20 minutes. And they also seem to have acquired the eccentricities and temperamental tantrums of the prima donnas in the bargain. (The knee jerk and far from sophisticated response to criticism which we have witnessed in the last couple of years – is a testament to that fact).

The interesting question is what has caused this transition.

I refuse to believe that THIS is something which is desired by the audience – almost everyone I know off cringes at the sledge hammer tactics adopted by them. Almost everyone I know has scant respect for their opinions, their reportage or their interviewing and news casting skills.

Is it the curse of the 24/7 reporting which louder volumes are equated with more eyeballs – again, a difficult hypothesis to swallow – BBC/CNN and others have had continuous coverage for years – and no, I still haven’t seen any of them prancing around hysterically yet.

I had written a post some time back on the overall dumbing down of television because of a shift in the audience profile – but somehow that argument is difficult in the context of the news. Yes, the internet is a big part of it, but for most of us, the television is still remains a very important medium for news.

The only thing which perhaps hints of an explanation is that it is symptomatic of the nouveau Indian attempting to shake off years of under-dog-hood by loud belligerence – where aggression is mistaken for assertiveness, and cacophony for confidence.

It’s a pity that the so called intelligentsia of the fourth estate have to also resort to that stereotype.

Edit Note: There is some hajaar chaos happening in life right now, which is why I have been and will probably continue to be so irregular ( blogging/commenting). please to excuse ( archives, archives!).

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Cootchie Coo(k)

Conversations with a cook prospect, transliterated for the audience. Picture a very scary, grumpy looking woman.

Me: "Oh, so what is your name"
She: "It is actually Kaveri, but sometimes it is Kavita."
Me: "Eh? Which one should I call you then?"
She: " Whichever you like."
Me: (Incurably nosy) "But why these two names? Which one do you answer to?"
She: "My actual name is Kaveri, but my husband lovingly calls me Kavita when he wants loving " (Er..?)
Me: "Well, in that case, since I am not yet in love with you, lets stick to Kaveri shall we?" ( No I didnt say that, was sorely tempted to though. Remember the Maid mafia?)

The one who supposedly joins tomorrow goes by the rather unlikely moniker of "Dimple". Unlikely why? Because she has an a rather bovine cast of countenance - nothing could be further than the Ms.Kapadia.

Watch this space for more.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

My name is Kha ha ha ha ha.

(Warning, spoilers ahead)

Dear Mr. K. Jo

First, let me begin by congratulating you on getting the movie released despite all the off-the-reel histrionics by one Mr. T and his posse of goons -you and your team should deserve a round of applause for that.

Having said that, I must admit that I was mystified by a number of things – not least of which, was, why DID you want to release one of the most unintentionally hilarious movies I have seen in the recent past? So I thought I would take this opportunity to ask you a few questions..

1.This might sound like a “who-was-Ram” type of question, but what was the story again? Was it

a.About autism?
b.About Muslims not being terrorists?
c.About a Forrest-Gumpish love story?
d.About triumph of good over evil?
e.About a mother’s fight for justice?
f.About hurricane relief?
g.About 9/11?
h.About ordinary citizens trying to meet the president
i.About a US darshan?

2.There was a slight doubt in my mind about the time frame – your snappy dates on the side of the screen indicated that the events occurred in this decade viz 2000-2009. But I could have sworn that Funny Hair Joel WAS Michael Jackson in 1972 and if I had to hazard a guess about his mother, Mama Jenny (Seriously?) and neighbours, I would have pegged them in a 1950’s commercial. (Uhm, just a small suggestion, do Google and take a look at one Beyonce)

3. Where did you find the President clone? I spent the entire movie waiting with bated breath for the full frontal ( you had been coy for most of the movie showing only the cropped hair)

4.Did Mr Khan (from the epiglottis) tolerate or not tolerate touchy-feely stuff? He seemed to cringe for half the movie, but after the intermission, he was going around hugging everyone in sight. Similarly in half the movie he seems to shuffle horizontally and sometimes he walks straight. Sometimes he used to movie camera; sometimes he cheerily looked at the landscape. Quite confusing.

5.Why did you waste Ms. Dutt for ONE minor scene? I would think she has HUGE potential in movies such as you are famous for – with lots of drama, action, song and dance and noise. Please do use her more.

6.Does SRK really have such a huge nose? Since he spent most of the movie not eyeing the camera directly, we really had lots of opportunity to view his profile

Your feedback will be much appreciated.
Thanks and regards

P.S. Was not a completely voluntary choice - uncle/aunt in law were staying over for a few days and they wanted to take us out to see the movie. It WOULD have been rather churlish to refuse, so off we went.