Archive for the 'A bit of fun' Category

BJP man’s suicide threat “live and in full colour”

12 February 2014

Long years ago, a TV studio participant in the United States pulled out a revolver and shot himself—”live and in full colour”, as a prominent American magazine headlined it.

Something similar has (nearly) occurred several continents away in Mysore.

S.A. Ramadas—a pracharak of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and a former medical education minister in the previous BJP government (who also served as chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa‘s political secretary)—has been outed by a widowed government clerk of promising to marry her and then abandoning him.

Reports Star of Mysore:

“Interestingly, even as Premakumari was speaking to journalists, her phone rang. Looking at the phone, she said, ‘See, he (Ramadas) is calling,’ and received the call and turned ‘on’ the speaker of her cell phone at the insistence of media persons.

“During the conversation, Ramdas said, ‘Chinnu, do not go to media, if you do not come back, I will commit suicide by consuming poison.’

“Soon, news channels started broadcasting the developments. As the news was beamed on many TV channels till late night, terribly depressed and upset Ramdas rushed to his guest house in Srirampura, went into a room, bolted the door from inside and tried to hang himself from a ceiling fan.”

For the record, the three-time former MLA is now reported to be stable.

On the other hand, a supporter of Ramadas is reported to have committed suicide on hearing the news of the alleged suicide attempt of his mentor.

Also read: The nurse, the married man and the minister

And the milk man is pure, positive and virtuous?

How media went overboard in Padmapriya case

The UPA minister who is a TV news editor is…

16 December 2013

Virendra Kapoor in The Sunday Guardian:

BENDING THE MEDIA

There is this senior minister in the UPA government, who is so sensitive to what the media says and writes about him that he invariably gets on the phone to the media owner to complain against even a passing mention which may not be too complimentary about him.

Like the other day, he SMSed a popular television anchor, asking him to immediately replace a panellist debating the Assembly election results because what the panellist said about the fallout of the outcome on the minister’s own re-election chances was highly pessimistic.

Of course, the anchor retained the said panellist for the entire duration of the programme.

Pati, patni and the Editor who was the ‘woh’

30 November 2013

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Sunanda K-Datta-Ray, former editor of The Statesman, in the Business Standard:

“A media that sits in judgement on the world must itself be blameless.

W.T. Stead, the famous English journalist who once edited the Northern Echo and who is credited with inventing investigative journalism, grandly told a Royal Commission, ‘The simple faith of our forefathers in the All-Seeing Eye of God has departed from the Man in the Street. Our only modern substitute for Him is the Press.’

“Some of India’s best-known newspaper magnates have been megalomaniacs without Stead’s talent. But no modern working journalist would be so pretentious though I can think of a non-working journalist editor who used equally bombastic language about himself.

“What was infinitely worse was that behind the mask of pious crusader rampaged a grasping womaniser who left the institution of which he acquired control virtually bankrupt. One thinks of another editor who sacked a junior when the latter’s wife who was his mistress (with her husband’s acquiescence) took up with another man.

“In a third case, revenue officials were disconcerted to discover that the cash donations a businessman they were watching made every month and recorded in his private diary were not to a leading politician but an editor with the same initials. I wouldn’t add open political affiliation as another sin but a paper’s politics is often surreptitious and paid for.”

Read the full column: The media as Caesar‘s wife

An Editor explains ‘Arnab Goswami’ to an NRI

19 November 2013

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picture-20For most TV news consumers, Arnab Goswami is both a name and a phenomenon. But there are still large parts of the world to be conquered by Times Now‘s bulldog of an inquisitor.

B.V. Rao, editor of Governance Now, explains the name and the phenomenon to a childhood friend who lives in Canada.

***

Dear Sharada

Sometime ago during a Googlegroup discussion you innocently asked: “But who is Arnab?”.

In India not knowing Arnab is against national interest. You are lucky you live in Canada. But if you don’t want to be deported on arrival on your next visit, you better pay attention to this complimentary crash course on the subject.

Arnab, as in Arnab Goswami, is India’s most-watched prime time news anchor and editor-in-chief of Times Now*. But designations don’t even begin to describe him or what he is famous for.

You must have heard about hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. Arnab is also a storm, a news-storm that hits India every night via his show, the “Newshour”. Nobody is quite sure how, but somehow Arnab gets to know the questions that the “whole nation” wants answers for, or the sinners the nation wants hanged before midnight that night.

In effect then, Arnab speaks for a “billion-plus people” each time he takes centre-stage.

I can’t say for sure if he took this burden upon himself voluntarily or if his employers made it a contractual obligation. Whatever it is, the fact is that Arnab has come to relish asking the most “simple and direct” questions to the most dubious people demanding instant answers to complex problems because the “nation wants to know” and it wants to know “tonight” as in right now.

That’s how impatient India has become while you’ve been away, Sharada.

***

The Newshour airs on weekdays from 9 pm and continues till Arnab’s pleasure lasts. Often the show stretches up to 10.50 pm. That’s actually “News hour-and-three-quarters-and-then-some” but I guess Arnab has not asked himself a “simple, direct” question: how many minutes make an hour?

That, or his primary school maths teacher is not his viewer. In which case it is safe to say Arnab speaks for a billion-plus minus one Indians.

You will see that at the altar of national interest it is not just the hour that is stretched.

About two decades ago, Dileep Padgaonkar was the editor of the Times of India owned by the Jains of Bennett & Coleman who also own Times Now. Padgaonkar had pompously proclaimed that he held the second most important job in the country after the prime minister’s.

Arnab hasn’t said it, but I think he disagrees with Padgaonkar on the pecking order:  it’s now the prime minister who holds the second most important job in the country.

Hence Arnab runs the show like he would run the country or like the prime minister should but doesn’t.

You see, Sharada, there’s an awful lot of stuff the nation wants to know by nightfall but our prime minister isn’t much of a talker. Arnab fills the need gap. He opens his show with a passionate agenda-setting preamble that spells out all the problems of the day and how he wishes to solve them. We gratefully receive this wisdom and call it Arnab’s Address to the Nation, a prime ministerial duty that has fallen on his broad shoulders because the real guy has abdicated it.

***

Let me tell you this, however. Arnab is a very reluctant power-grabber. It is not his intent to upstage the prime minister or make him look silly.

He gives the prime minister an entire day to prove his worth and gets to work only at 9 pm when it is clear that the latter can’t handle stuff.

He then solves all outstanding national issues of the day in just one 110 minute-hour of feverish debates where he grills the skin off the back of everybody who dares to stand in the way of India’s national interest.

He is unrelenting in his pursuit of the truth and doesn’t give up unless everybody has agreed with him.

“I am worried”, “I am concerned”, “I won’t let you politicise”, “I don’t agree”, “you can’t get away….” are some of the phrases he uses to suggest he is in complete control and that endears him to a nation starved of decision-makers.

Arnab hates home work. He wants to settle everything here and now, tonight. As a result, in Arnab country, there is no trace of the policy paralysis that has grounded the prime minister in the real country. Here you get resolutions, decisions, orders, diktats, judgements, justice and denouements all in one place, one show, by one man.

***

The only people paralysed are the subjects of his grilling and the bevy of experts he gathers around himself, not because he needs them, he doesn’t, but because it must feel awfully good to invite experts and out-talk them on national prime time.

Like confused baboons trapped in little boxes, the experts, who are neatly arranged around Arnab’s own imposing self in the centre of the screen, keep staring into nothingness most of the time.

Yes, you get the drift, Sharada, Arnab is the main dish here. The rest are just intellectual dips.

For most of their airtime the experts keep putting up their hands or calling out “Arnab….Arnab….” to indicate they want to make a point. Arnab is too engrossed in disagreeing with what he has not allowed them to say to care too much.

Some clever guests try to appeal to his Assamese roots by hailing “Ornob…Ornob”. He ignores them as well.

Nationalism, after all, is above parochialism. The cleverer among them have cracked the code: they just agree with Arnab in exchange for a little extra air time. These are usually the people who have paid close attention to Arnab’s Address to the Nation and picked up the right cues on what to say that will get them his benefaction.

It is tough to figure out why Arnab needs any experts at all because he knows the answers to all his questions. Times Now insiders say that more often than not he finds questions to the answers he already has. On his show, politicians can’t politicise, bureaucrats can’t beat around the bush, sportspersons can’t play games and lawyers can’t use legalese.

In fact anybody who is good at something can’t do what they are known to do, to the extent that even civil society can’t be civil, especially if it wants to get a word in sideways. Everybody has to be direct, honest, blunt and keep things simple because that is what the (one-man) nation wants.

***

Corruption, political expediency, opportunism, forked tongues, doublespeak, dishonesty and hypocrisy, are red rags to Arnab. He takes them head-on with the help of his reporters who keep throwing up “documentary” evidence ever so often to expose scamsters.

Usually this is a thick sheaf of indistinguishable papers that Arnab holds up threateningly. It could be a bunch of used airline e-tickets for all we know, but since we don’t, he waves the sheaf confidently in the face of the enemies of the nation and it is generally assumed he’s got some incendiary stuff in there.

Arnab’s problem-solving repertoire is not restricted to national boundaries. In fact, he is at his best when dealing with nations that have evil designs on India. The patriot in Arnab is best aroused when he is dealing with that evil, failed, rogue nation called Pakistan.

He deals with Pakistan like no prime minister has ever been able to or decimates it like no Army has ever managed to. Each time a blade of grass bends to the breeze on the LoC, Arnab breathes fire at Pakistan for trying to sneak in terrorists into the country. He lines up a battery of serving and retired generals of Pakistan and conducts the verbal equivalent of a summary execution.

Yet, the same generals keep resurfacing on Arnab’s show each time he feels the urge to have a Pakistani or two for dinner. This causes much wonderment among Newshour hounds on the masochist streak that makes the Pakistani generals offer themselves up as bait repeatedly.

So, it is assumed the money must be good. But since Arnab insists that Pakistan is the way it is only because the generals have sold their country cheap, it is unlikely he is blowing his budget for this routine cross-border target practice. Of course, left to Arnab Pakistan would have existed only as the largest crater on earth since the meteors wiped out all life on the planet. Yes, he would have nuked it many times over by now.

The Times of India, the country’s oldest English newspaper and the mother brand from the Times Now stable runs Aman Ki Aasha (Hope for Peace), the widely-acclaimed campaign for ending India-Pakistan hostilities.

Just as Arnab doesn’t seem to know of this campaign, the Times of India seems quite oblivious of the fact that the last time there was absolute peace on the LoC was when Arnab took a two-week holiday in early September. It could be the marketing genius of the Times group to milk the issue from both ends or it could also be that their internal boundaries are not as porous as our LoC.

Apart from conducting war exercises against Pakistan, Arnab land is eyeball-to-eyeball with China, exposes the double standards of America in almost anything it does and highlights the hypocrisy of racist Australia which loves the education dollars from India but not the brown students who come along with.

His blood boils so much when an old Sikh is roughed up by a bunch of racist women in the UK that he almost gets the whole of Punjab to rise in revolt against the Indian government’s inaction–even though there is nothing it can do as the gentleman is a citizen of the said country–or builds a tide of emotional revulsion against “inhuman” Norway for snatching an infant from his Indian mother’s custody for alleged physical abuse.

I can go on and on, Sharada, but everything good must come to an end and so must my Arnab eulogy.

***

So, in short and in conclusion, here’s what I have to say: Arnab is not just the editor-in-chief of Times Now. He’s India’s protector-in-chief. He is the guy who is keeping India safe while you are away on selfish pursuits. You are lucky you can get away by not knowing him.

For a billion-plus Indians,minus of course his maths teacher, that is not even a distant option. Because, truth told, Arnab is the best we have got!

B.V. Rao

***

* Disclosures apply

Photographs: courtesy Unreal Times and Governance Now

***

Also read: ‘Arnab Goswami is corrective to babalog media’

Three reasons Arnab Goswami should be PM

There’s a new ‘ism’ in town, it’s Arnabism

Sachin Tendulkar, Sigmund Freud & the media

18 November 2013

As the Indian (and global) media—print, electronic and digital—reports Sachin Tendulkar‘s retirement from cricket as if it’s the end of the world; as breathless reporters, writers, anchors and tweeters ask “What will happen to cricket now that Sachin is gone?”, now is a good time as any to remember Harold Ross and James Thurber.

Ross was the founder of the New Yorker magazine, and Thurber its most famous cartoonist, who could also write. Twenty-six years after he founded the legendary weekly, Ross passed away, as all of us must, in 1951.

Here’s what Thurber writes in ‘The years with Ross‘ (page 272):

“People still speak of ‘Ross’s New Yorker’, and his name is heard in conversations and seen on printed pages. At least half a hundred people in the past seven years have said, or written, to me, ‘I never knew Ross, but when he died I felt I had lost a dear friend’.

“One man, a literary agent who gets around town, told me, ‘You could feel the sorrow all over the city the day after Ross died. I don’t think I have ever experienced such a sense of communal grief about a man most people I met had never seen.’

“We were all asked, a hundred times, ‘What will happen to the New Yorker now that Ross is dead?’ We had our separate answers to that, but Joe Liebling’s is perhaps the one that will last: ‘The same thing that happened to analysis after Sigmund Freud died’.”

Id est, life goes on.

Chill.

Also read: A front page with two mastheads for two jewels

Sachin Tendulkar, Mid-Day and the Indian Express

Poonam Pandey, Sachin Tendulkar and The Telegraph

India’s cricket reporters are too soft on cricketers

Today’s cricket journos are chamchas of cricketers

‘Anchoring news is easier than acting in a movie’

29 October 2013

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A number of male news journalists (Sashi Kumar, Prakash Belawadi, Dibang, Ravi Belagere) have slapped on greasepaint for roles in front of the camera in recent times.

At least one Telugu anchor (Udaya Bhanu) has starred in an item number.

Now, Sheethal Shetty, the peppy newsreader and presenter on the Kannada news channel TV9, is featuring in a lead role in a “Sandalwood” movie titled Ulidavaru Kandante (Kannada for, as viewed by survivors/witnesses).

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Shetty who has a sizeable following on Facebook, plays the role of a journalist who convinces her boss to do a story involving her childhood friends who are upto no good.

She talks to That’s Kannada.com on the difference between her two worlds.

“Anchoring is easier than acting. Everything is “live” in a news environment—the bulletins, breaking news. You adapt to the developing situation and generally find your way. In a movie, on the other hand you have to do just what the director says. We need to meld ourselves with the role….

“I used to spend 10-11 hours a day in a news studio. Food, sleep were secondary. I used to wonder what was the road ahead. I wouldn’t get time for anything. Now having stepped out, I want to learn some music and pay some attention to my health and fitness. I have even started a blog to do some writing.”

Shetty is the second TV9 Kannada anchor to step into cinema. Ranganath Bharadwaj had preceded her before he returned to news at Suvarna News 24×7.

Also read: Prakash Belawadi: Bangalore reporter who became ‘RAW agent’

For Sashi Kumar, acting is second string in bow

Karnataka gets an acting chief minister in Ravi Belagere

When a magazine editor marries a starlet, it’s news

TOI impact? HT restores cryptic crossword!

28 October 2013

When The Times of India took the long ladder down in the late 1990s, among the things its brand managers knocked out was the cryptic crossword with barely a squeak from readers, editors (and TOI receptionists!) who had grown up on it.

No such luck with the Hindustan Times.

The paper may have long buried its reputation as “the only English newspaper written in Punjabi”, but its decision to do away with the cryptic crossword that it reprinted from The Times, London, as part of a redesign, was met with a volley of criticism, including from TOI‘s non-resident jughead.

And, presto, about the only activity that (thankfully) can’t be crowd-sourced is back—with a front-page announcement of its return.

***

Quiz question: Who was the editor who set the crossword for the now-defunct The Illustrated Weekly of India?

Hint: He is also a cricket buff and a music buff.

***

Also read: Why Jug Suraiya doesn’t buy Hindustan Times

Manu Joseph: magazine editor once set crossword puzzles

Why Jug Suraiya doesn’t buy Hindustan Times

18 October 2013

There are many reasons why people buy newspapers (and inshallah, newsmagazines).

To be part of the shared conversation; to get an organised view of the world; to keep up with the Joneses; to get news and views and ads; to be educated and engaged and entertained.

Jug Suraiya throws light on another reason in The Times of India:

“After subscribing to it, along with the TOI, for many years, I recently stopped getting the HT newspaper. While it’s a good enough paper otherwise, the main reason I used to get the HT was for its cryptic crossword.

Bunny and I have been crossword addicts for many years, and we got the HT for its cryptic puzzle – a feature which for reasons best known to itself the TOI lacks.

“When HT stopped carrying its cryptic crossword – which it took from The Times, London – Bunny and I stopped taking the paper. We now print out the online Guardian puzzle every day.

“But the discontinuation of the HT has left a small gap, an absence, in my mornings. While before I had two papers to read in the mornings, now I have just the TOI.”

Read the full article: Used to it

Will The Telegraph, Calcutta, be around in 2024?

5 October 2013

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The news of former Bihar chief minister Laloo Prasad Yadav being sentenced to five years in jail for the fodder scam under his watch was reported in the same old way by most newspapers which think readers do not have access to radios, TVs, laptops, tablets and mobile phones.

Not The Telegraph.

The Calcutta newspaper, with its tongue in rosogolla-lined cheek, telescopes into the future and enters the world Laloo will see in 2024, which is when he will be become eligible to contest elections once again, after a six-year hiatus following his release.

Laloo will then be 77, Narendra Modi will be 74, Rahul Gandhi will be 54, and Hema Malini—whose smooth cheeks became Laloo’s yardstick for smooth roads in Biharwill be 76.

While those are all real possibilities, The Telegraph also looks at the less real possibilities—like Sachin Tendulkar still playing and pondering his retirement, like Hillary Clinton ending her second term as US President.

Along the way, the paper also wonders about whether the print medium will be around in 2024:

“Watch this space. If newspapers are still around the way we know them, we will tell you how right or wrong we were.”

Also read: The last newspaper will be printed in 2043

Will paper tigers last longer than real ones?

Why TV will never, ever, replace newspapers

4 October 2013

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A mannequin for a garment company clothed entirely in used newspapers, at Terminal 3 of Delhi international airport. Yes, “wearable” screens are on the way but pigs will fly before you can make a rose out of an LCD screen.

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