Posts Tagged ‘Ravivar’

Rajeev Shukla: from reporter to minister of state

12 July 2011

PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from Delhi: Rajeev Shukla, the journalist who began his career as a lowly reporter in the Hindi daily Northern India Patrika in Kanpur in 1978 before turning to politics in 2000, is to become a minister in the Manmohan Singh government this evening.

The 52-year-old will be the minister of State in charge of parliamentary affairs.

Shukla, a member of the Rajya Sabha from his home-state Uttar Pradesh, earned his journalistic spurs during his three-year stint in the late 1980s at the weekly Hindi magazine Ravivar, where under its then editor Udayan Sharma, he broke a story on the former prime minister V.P.  Singh.

Singh, a bugbear of the then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi on the Bofors issue, had signed away large tracts of land he held as the “Raja of Manda”. Shukla reported that Singh’s wife had objected to the sale, saying he was not in his right mental balance at the time.

That story propelled Shukla into the Congress orbit.

Shukla later held several senior editorial positions later in the ABP-owned Sunday and The Sunday Observer, which had been purchased by Dhirubhai Ambani‘s Reliance Industries.

The arrival of satellite television saw Shukla host a weekly interview programme on Zee called Rubaru, before he branched off to launch his own production house called BAG Films (BAG for Bhagwan, Allah, God) with wife Anuradha Prasad (sister of BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad) in tow.

The couple now own a news channel (News24), an entertainment channel (E24), a radio station (Dhamaal 24), and a school of media and convergence studies.

Shukla entered the Rajya Sabha in 2000 as a member of the short-lived Uttar Pradesh Loktantrik Congress, winning votes disporportionate to his political lineage and vintage from the BJP, Congress and the BSP. His vote tally set tongues wagging in Lucknow.

Venkitesh Ramakrishnan of Frontline magazine reported:

“The grapevine said during the run-up to the elections that two powerful industrial groups backed Shukla.”

Shukla soon become a prominent functionary in the Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI), rising to be vice-president.  DNA reported that a firmed owned by him had bought a stake in Shah Rukh Khan‘s Kolkata Knight Riders, at whose matches Rahul Gandhi has been one of the more famous faces from the VIP box.

When Shah Rukh Khan was detained in the United States in the run-up to his film My Name is Khan in 2009, he famously said that the first person he called to bail him out was Rajeev Shukla.

Anuradha Prasad watches her husband Rajeev Shukla take oath as minister in this photograb from the couple's news channel, News24

‘Yeh thi khabrein Aaj Tak. Intzaar kijiye kal tak’

27 June 2011

Fourteen years ago today, Surendra Pratap Singh aka S.P. Singh, the founder-anchor of Aaj Tak, the 30-minute Hindi news bulletin that became a 24×7 news channel, breathed his last after a fortnight-long battle for life.

“SP” was one of the first print journalists to successfully graduate to television—he had edited the Hindi  daily Navbharat Times and the weekly Ravivar—and his daily bulletin “expanded the limits of television journalism in a never-before fashion with its common man’s eye view style“.

Singh passed away at age 49 just before Aaj Tak could turn into a full-fledged news channel after the government decided not to renew its contract with Doordarshan. But by then he had inspired a whole new crop of television stars: Dibang, Sanjay Pugalia and Ashutosh to give just three examples.

Today, on Twitter, a few of his friends and colleagues have been remembering a mentor and a pioneer:

***

DIBANG: June 27, 1997: We lost the most credible face of Indian TV news, founder of Aaj Tak, Surendra Pratap Singh! These days, I deeply miss SP!

NARAYANAN MADHAVAN: S.P. Singh. Father of credible Hindi news journalism, founder of Brand Aaj Tak (not the one you see today)

MILIND KHANDEKAR: No words can explain the loss…

DIBANG: With all that’s happening to media and in media, SP would have been the best guide/mentor! Media would have been different.

PRAGYA MOHANTY: He was the first person reading news who smiled. Like really.:)

DIBANG: Agree with you and what an assuring smile. Was great education just hanging around him. Miss him deeply.

PRAGYA MOHANTY: The way SP began treating news, even viewers learnt to discern. He made news watching engaging. Gosh! Such nostalgia.

DIBANG: So true! He had a great ability to discern what is news. He never touched what’s past and what’s yet to be!

DIBANG: He knew what is news, he had that ‘pakad‘, and when he read news it was reflected in his expressions, his voice, his body language.

PRAGYA MOHANTY: Pakad is the word. (Prannoy Roy‘s) The World This Week was more like a theory class and watching SP was like attending the practicals.

DIBANG: Yeh thi khabrein aaj tak, Intzaar kijiye kal tak. Was always in studio with him when he read the news.

DIBANG: When he fell in the bathroom. He called out his wife Shikha (Trivedy) and told her: Dibang ko jaldi bulao. Those are his last words.

DIBANG: It was a Monday when we took SP to hospital. He wasn’t conscious, never returned. Was with him whole of that sunday. I remember all the conversation i had with him that Sunday. For us its like he is still there with us.

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