Posts Tagged ‘Shobhaa De’

The 5 stereotypes of journalists in Bollywood

16 August 2013
Jaane-Bhi-Do-Yaaro

In the 1983 hit comedy, Jaane bhi do yaaro, Naseeruddin Shah and Ravi Vaswani work as freelance photographers for Khabardar, a muckraking magazine edited by “Shobha Sen”, played by Bhakti Barve Inamdar

Much as the role of the hero and the heroine has morphed in the Hindi film industry, so has the depiction of the villain and the vamp—and, of course, the journalist.

From a pure print person till well into the late 1980s, the journalist on film is now largely a TV person.

From a poorly paid, poorly dressed, paan-chewing jholawala working for a “cause”, we are now (largely) shown as slick, loud-mouthed, loose-tongued buffoons, in bed with the crooked and the corrupt, and not very different from them.

Two young London-based Indian journalists, Ruhi Khan (formerly of Hindustan Times, Mumbai Mirror & NDTV) and her husband Danish Khan (formerly of Mid-Day and Mumbai Mirror), have analysed 33 films over the last 30 years and written a paper for the journal “The Image of the Journalist in Popular Culturepublished by the University of Southern California at Annenberg.

“Our analysis revealed five popular representations of the journalist that we have classified as romantic companion, glamour chaser, investigative superhero, power magnate, and brainless mouthpiece.

“These categories, though distinct, can also find themselves sharing screen space and often overlapping in the same film’s narrative.

“These stereotypes have been so strongly entrenched in Bollywood scripts that even films inspired by reallife incidences fail to break free of them.”

Here, the Khans introduce their work.

***

By RUHI KHAN and DANISH KHAN

Working as journalists in India’s tinsel town Mumbai-home to Bollywood cinema, one often comes across various public prejudices against the reporter. From being revered and trusted to help foster change for the better, to being accused of trivialising the profession or manipulating news for profits.

The IJPC article stemmed for our desire to find out how such public perceptions are influenced. In this article we analyse only one element – perhaps one of the greatest factors that can affect mass perceptions—Bollywood films.

Most commercial films are not a prism reflecting reality, but a figment of someone’s imagination and desire to see the world as he or she would like to. Hindi film is devoid of much reality and is often an exaggeration, yet it defines its audience’s aspirations and perceptions.

And this is what the article reflects—the caricature images of journalists portrayed by Bollywood, from their most Romeo-like romantic image to their most macho Rambo superhero.

We analysed 33 films over a 30-year period from 1981 to 2011, ranging from “Mr. India” to “Rockstar,” where the role of the journalist or media has been important in the film’s narrative script or has been entrenched in public memory for its journalistic aspects.

Our analysis revealed five popular representations of journalists. We found many Bollywood films depicting journalists as a Romantic Companion to the other lead protagonist. This is where the focus is on the scribe’s singing, dancing or seducing skills rather than his reporting.

A more realistic category is the Glamour Chaser where reporters are portrayed as flies fluttering around a ‘celebrity’ candy. Need we say more on this, doesn’t seem much difference in real and reel life journalists in this category?

In the Investigative Superhero category the journalist makes powerful enemies in the course of his or her investigative work, just like a superhero who takes on the bad guys. This category showed us two opposite depictions of journalists. While the first half of the period in which our analysis takes place showed investigative reporters often paying a heavy price for their work- often being martyrs in the process; in the latter part the journalist began leveraging his or her profession to safeguard himself or herself by garnering the power of the fourth estate and mobilizing public support and scrutiny.

Next, category Power Magnate shows the media as ‘kingmakers’ holding the power to sway decisions on prominent issues. Prominent senior journalists are ‘sense-makers’ where in they have the power to influence how the public should interpret complex issues.

The last category is the one most journalists in real life are very uncomfortable to even acknowledge but the reel gives plenty of examples to entrench it strongly in public memory—the Brainless Mouthpiece speaks of the most prevalent public perception where journalists are shown as brainless twits who simply follow instructions, bytes, or gossip without questioning anything.

***

Read the full paper: From Romeo to Rambo

***

Raveen Tandon as Shobha De: Glamourous, sexy, brainy, seductive

Look, who wants to play Christiane Amanpour: Kareena Kapoor

Emran Hashmi to play Rajdeep Sardesai, Arnab Goswami

Journalism film Dev Anand didn’t make featuring Shekhar Gupta

Ram Gopal Verma‘s hit and Rann: ‘I want to expose media’

Will the underworld a hot reporter like Gul Panag?

Anju Mahendroo plays queen bee of film journalism, Devyani

For Sashi Kumar, Ranganath Bharadwaj, acting is second nature

Finally, Karnataka gets an acting chief minister: Ravi Belagere

30-plus, glamourous, sexy, brainy and seductive*

16 November 2012

Raveena Tandon is playing Shobhaa De, the former editor of Stardust, Society and Celebrity, in the Hindi film Shobhana’s Seven Nights that is already doing the rounds at international film festivals. But quite clearly the journalist turned best-selling author is not amused.

In an interview with Kavitha Shanmugham of The Telegraph last Sunday, Tandon says:

“The movie is about a gossip columnist and pulp fiction writer, and most people are assuming that it’s about Shobhaa De. I would say some traits of the character—such as her spunk and attitude—are inspired by her, but the story is not.

“Shobhaa De is a dear friend and avery different person from the one depicted in the film. However, her publisher is called Harry Davidar in the film and the logo of his publishing house does look like a penguin. That part is deliberate (smiles mischeviously).”

However, in January, the movie’s director, Sudipto Chattopadhyay hadtold Mumbai Mirror that the character was clearly based on De:

“Yes, Raveena plays a character based on Shobhaa De, who’s a dear friend of mine. So, I’ve taken the liberty of borrowing from her personality. I needed someone 30-plus, glamorous, sexy, brainy and seductive to play the part, and Raveena was my first and last choice.”

*Search engine optimisation techniques at work

Also read: Will underworld dons trust such a hot reporter?

Enter: the queen bee of Bollywood film journalists

Mouth ka saudagar to play Arnab and Rajdeep

For some journos, acting is second string in bow

Finally, Karnataka gets an ‘acting’ chief minister

Look, who wants to play Christiane Amanpour!

Shobha De tears into Vinod Mehta in India Today

27 January 2012

There are two tried and tested formulas for commissioning reviews in the shockingly incestuous bordello of Indian books that has now spread its wings into Indian journalism.

The supposedly dignified formula is to get an author’s friend or associate to do the unctuous needful (say a Khushwant Singh to “review” a David Davidar) so that reputations are protected, nothing damaging is said and everybody gets called for the next orgiastic party.

Its opposite recipe is to get a hired gun who will fire at will (say a Mihir S. Sharma to pump into Suhel Seth) so that the old gasbag is punctured, some buzz is released, and major “trending” happens in blogosphere.

India Today magazine uses the latter technique in the latest issue while belatedly reviewing Outlook* magazine editor-in-chief Vinod Mehta‘s memoirs.

In Lucknow Boy, published nearly three months ago, Mehta gives the sultana of scuttlebutt, former Stardust editor Shobha De, some chosen ones— for not including an introduction to a book she had commissioned him to write and then for not having had the courtesy to inform of it, despite bumping into him off and on, etc.

De has returned the favour in kind (and more) in the India Today review calling the 306-page tome “that’s filled with Delhi style bragging… rather dull”—a loosely strung account of job-hopping full of old-fashioned self-righteousness and tedious justifications:

#What happened? Something obviously got in the way, and let’s blame it on Delhi. Had Mr Mehta continued to live and work in Mumbai, I am certain he would have written a far more readable book.

# Mr Mehta’s sepia-toned recollections may be of some interest to his colleagues and assorted politicos who wish to be featured in the magazine he so ably edits. Give them Sunny Leone‘s unedited life story in ten easy chapters intead—now that’s riveting stuff.

# The biggest letdown in this memoir is the absence of any asli masala….

# The Mumbai Mehta was an amiable chap. He wasn’t boastful. And he could out-bitch anybody in the room. Most of the time, the bitching was about those absent. Everybody laughed—including his highly “intellectual” friends tiresome then, far worse now. But Mr Mehta had not turned as pretentious… nor did he drop names.

# The one magazine Mr Mehta missed editing and he could still do a brilliant job of it, is Stardust.

* Disclosures apply

Illustration: courtesy Keshav/ The Hindu

Also read: Vinod Mehta on Arun Shourie, Dileep Padgaonkar

It isn’t easy telling tales of even dead editors

Wife-beater? Freeloader? Menace to society?

Khalid Mohamed on ToI, DNA, HT and the stars

28 January 2011

Khalid Mohamed, longtime film critic of The Times of India and sometime editor of Filmfare—who hopped over to DNA and then to Hindustan Times in Bombay after making four films in the interim—talks about his 32 years in journalism and the stars he met along the way, in the January issue of Society magazine.

# “Of course, I had to do all escort service. If Shah Rukh Khan had to address a meeting, I would be an escort. ToI were always demanding. Bring this one and that one. DNA was releasing a supplement and I was asked to get Urmila Matondkar. That’s not the job of a journalist. I found the whole thing demeaning. I gave up for that reason.”

# “This era is all about marketing. Suppose I was reviewing a film and the evening before I was asked, ‘How many stars are you giving it? If you are giving it three or four stars, we can get ads.’ I said: ‘I am not interested.” It is peculiar and happens everywhere. ToI does in the form of Medianet, but other papers do it in other forms. In fact, journalists don’t know that stars say things like ‘Usko teen lakh mein kharid liya‘ (that journalist was bought for three lakh rupees).”

#”Pradeep Guha was the only guy who I like to call boss. I really looked up to him and he is a marketing genius. Even at the Filmfare awards, I was a bystander while he was the showman. Having said that, I haven’t been much in touch.”

# “I always saw myself as a ToI person and not a Filmfare person. I don’t think there has been an editor like Sham Lal. Today, do you know who the editor of The Times of India is?

# “At DNA, I was asked to take Isha Koppikar out to lunch. Later I asked marketing guys, ‘Did you get the ad?’ They said no. They had got dinner coupons on which they will take their clients out. I said, ‘Not happening’.”

# “Everyone wants to be ToI. They all end up going that way. If ToI did a story which DNA didn’t do, there would be a lot of hulchul. I never understood that. No one had a distinct vision though DNA was supposed to have one. I felt downsized. Maybe the editor didn’t like me. Even if I did a hard hitting story, it would land up on the 14th page instead of the first. However, I got the highest money.”

# “I like being in a startup operation. Pradeep Guha and I had reformulated Filmfare. Dina Vakil and I had started the Sunday Review. [At Hindustan Times] We needed a competitor to Bombay Times so we thought of starting the HT Cafe. The resident editor Samar Halarnkar didn’t like my face from the very beginning. We had verbal slanging matches.”

# People I really looked up to were Behram Contractor, Sham Lal, Bikram Singh and Khushwant Singh. I liked what Shobhaa De wrote in Stardust and Society. Where are the journalists of that time? It may sound a bit academic. I am not a perfectionist but I’ll see every comma, every heading and caption in place. If I have become outdated because of that, too bad for me.”

Also read: Khalid Mohamed‘s blog

The media, the message, and the messengers

7 April 2010

The Booker Prize winning author Arundhati Roy‘s 31-page, 19,556-word essay “Walking with the comrades” in Outlook magazine*, has produced a fast and succinct response from the journalistic Twitterati after Tuesday’s dastardly ambush of paramilitary forces by said comrades.

From top, NDTV English group editor Barkha Dutt, Pioneer senior editor Kanchan Gupta, Indian Express columnist Tavleen Singh, former Stardust editor Shobhaa De, and London based freelance writer, Salil Tripathi.  Tripathi also has a finely argued critique of Roy’s piece in The Wall Street Journal.

Meanwhile, the adman turned magazine editor turned columnist Anil Thakraney offers this take on his Facebook status update.

* Disclosures apply

Screenshots: courtesy Twitter

Wife-beater? Freeloader? Menace to society?

11 May 2008

Restaurants are now suing newspapers for bad reviews claiming “defamation” and loss of business. But how should authors respond to bad reviews? Should they just be thankful for the publicity? Should they get into a slanging match with the reviewer and hope for the best?

Should they, as Shobhaa De, the author of “Superstar India” has done, get personal?

De’s latest book has got a poor review in India’s leading English magazines, India Today and Outlook. India Today‘s reviewer tore into the book calling it “the worst thing she has written” and said its subtitle “From Incredible to Unstoppable” made him wonder if it was commissioned by the ministry of tourism. Outlook‘s reviewer called it “quite mediocre” and said it read like a “teenager’s diary”. Etcetera.

But De, former editor of the film magazine Stardust (and the shortlived Celebrity), and the woman who has worn titles such as Sultana of Scuttlebutt and “Maharani of Muck” with aplomb, goes below the belt in response.

In an interview with Arathi Menon of Deccan Herald today, De is asked of the unkind reviews that have greeted the book in India. Her response?

“The particular review you are referring to (in a leading magazine) is a personal attack on me. The person who wrote it is a wife-beater; a freeloader; a frustrated has-been and a menace to society. There are other ratings that have already put the book on the best-seller list. So do I really care about that interview?”

As the pioneer of bitchy page 3 journalism, Shobhaa De of course doesn’t name the reviewer or the publication, but if the reviewer/s had given a good review of the book, would De have been enlightening the world with such vengeance in public?

Is the reviewer’s past or present relevant to the debate at all? Or should she be answering the criticism of the reviewer?

Photograph: courtesy Newsline, Pakistan

Read the India Today review here: De turns into night

Read Shobhaa De’s interview here: 60 years young

Also read: Singer Sonu Nigam accuses reviewer Subhash K. Jha of “sexual assault”

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