Daily Archives: 12 January 2008

The launch that showcased a thousand slips

PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from New Delhi: The unveiling of the Nano has fetched the kind of publicity Osama bin Laden would kill for.

Purple prose hailing the new peoples car, breathless editorials brazenly brushing aside environment and traffic concerns, mushy interviews with the man himself, over-the-top opinion polls have all greeted the “world’s cheapest car”.

But, has anybody driven the bloody car?

Welcome to the age of hype as journalism. Welcome to the age of who cares as long as we can get into their media plan journalism. Welcome to the age of the details don’t matter, the spectacle is the story journalism.

Like the iPhone in the United States last year, the Nano has been decreed a success even before the assembly line can be readied for manufacture. And like a Harry Potter book, half of whose hold depends on the secrecy its author and publishers can double from the previous instalment, we have had TV channels describing the route the car took from Poona to Delhi, and schoolboy newspapers cackling about the Z-category security that accompanied it.

But at least, thousands of buyers could touch and feel Steve Jobs‘ claims the day it was launched; thousands more could sample J.K. Rowling‘s concoction.

The Nano?

We just have to swallow and spout the manufacturer’s line hook, line and sinker. Or else, we could be out of their media plan. So we have to take Ratan Tata’s word that it lets out less fumes than a two-wheeler (oh, yes, tell me another) and that it won’t clog up our roads (oh, really?).

Sure, the Nano it looks cute, the colours are snazzy, and yes, it’s a proud moment for a desi company that has put out some of the most dangerous vehicles on our roads, like the Sumo and their godawful mini-trucks, to have stuck to a “promise” and delivered a car with a sticker price of Rs 100,000.

But, brother, how does it move? Isn’t that what a car is all about?

You scribble a line to see if a pencil (cost Rs 2) writes well. You check out a couple of vegetable wallahs before you buy kotambir (Rs 5). You try a pair of hawaii chappalls (cost Rs 200) to see if it is comfortable or not. Why, we sample sweets and savouries before declaring them tasty or not.

But you see a one lakh rupee from a safe distance and pronounce it a hit?

Hit it may well be and, for the sake of the Tata Motors stock of which I have a few, I hope it is. But where is the balance, the line between paid advertising and, well, unpaid advertising?

OK, it could accommodate Ratan dikra as he swung in for the launch. But can it carry papa, mama, chunnu and Bunty comfortably? Will its adhesive stuck parts withstand not-so-ideal conditions as the ramp at a five-star hotel? Do those very basic shock absorbers have it in them to haul you out of potholes for years on end?

And, since we are talking of a car, lest we forget, does its motor run well?

I guess we will never know till some auto magazine gets another sneak peak, and we all know what that means. But couldn’t we have been spared the instant verdict?

If an inexpensive price tag is all that matters, we’ve got it—even Tata’s PR people wouldn’t have done better.

Also read: 11 similarities between iPhone and Rajnikant

Photograph: courtesy tatapeoplescar.com


At last, an Indian video production textbook

With television booming in India, and news and entertainment channels being launched every other day, expertise at video production is increasingly in short supply. It’s a void that journalism schools and mass communications programmes at diploma, under-graduate and post-graduate levels, are trying to fill, but they are hampered by the lack of relevant literature suited to the Indian milieu.

The few textbooks that are around are foreign publications, priced in dollars and largely out of the reach of most students. Moreover, most foreign books are highly segmented, and cover different aspects of production in tiny niches in separate books, making it difficult for students and teachers to purchase and refer to multiple books.

Filling that vital blank is VASUKI BELAVADI, a reader in communication at the Sarojini Naidu school of performing arts, fine arts & communication at the University of Hyderabad, whose book Video Production (paperback, 352 pages, Rs 325) , published by Oxford University Press, will soon be out.

Video Production is a step-by-step guide on making effective video programmes and provides an in-depth coverage of all aspects of video production, pre-production, production, and post-production. Throughout the book, the key concepts are explained through numerous illustrations, exhibits, figures, exercises and anecdotes.

“Beginning with creating an understanding of visual grammar for video production, the book goes on to discuss the parts of a video camera, the roles of the personnel involved, and the three phases of video production. It moves from the conceptual to the practical, discussing in detail scriptwriting, lighting, sound, and editing; single-camera and multi-camera production processes; and the techniques involved in electronic news gathering and electronic field production. Video and broadcast technology and the various delivery options available in India and abroad are also discussed in detail.

“The book will be very useful to students who want to specialise in video production and will also serve as a reference and guide to those interested in taking up video production independently.”

Prof Belavadi, formerly on the faculty of Manipal University of Communication and Tezpur University, has worked with Eenadu Television, and has been on the staff of several Indian newspapers.

Email the author for further details: vbsn@uohyd.ernet.in