Infographic: courtesy Hindustan Times
Also read: If you’ve been feeling nice about yourself…
PALINI R. SWAMY writes from Bangalore: A veritable dogfight has broken out in Bangalore between a 24×7 Kannada news channel owned by the MP, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, and the owner-editor of a weekly Kannada newspaper.
On the surface, the dispute is over credits for a recently released Kannada film.
But, deep down, the spat has served as a platform for some unabashed shadow-boxing between two leading Kannada journalists that has already seen plenty of bile being spilled on the tabloid editor’s parentage, his sexual exploits and financial dealings, not to mention his journalistic vocabulary and targets.
And everybody from film folk to co-journalists have been happily indulging in a slugfest that has also become a TRP battle between the two leading Kannada news channels.
When the Kannada film “Bheema Teeradalli” opened last Friday, Ravi Belagere, the editor of the popular Hi! Bangalore tabloid popped up on the No.1 Kannada news channel TV9.
He claimed it was he who had unearthed the story of Chandappa Harijan, on whom the film had allegedly been based, but he had neither been consulted by the film makers nor acknowledged in the credits or compensated for it.
All through the TV9 show, the film’s producer, director and actor hemmed and hawwed on where they had suddenly found the inspiration for the film while Belagere, a regular face on Ramoji Rao’s ETV, tore into them.
The moment the two-hour TV9 show ended on Saturday, the scene of action shifted to Suvarna News 24×7, Rajeev Chandrasekhar’s news channel whose editor-in-chief is Vishweshwar Bhat and whose friendship with Ravi Belagere has seen better times.
(Belagere used to write a weekly column for Vijaya Karnataka edited by Bhat and Bhat played a guest role in a film produced by Belagere that didn’t quite see the light of day.)
For months, the two Bangalore journalist-friends turned foes had been at each other throats, more in private than in public. It’s been open season since the film row broke.
On one night on Suvarna News, Pratap Simha, the news editor of Kannada Prabha (a Kannada daily owned by Chandrasekhar and edited by Bhat) and who had been the attacked in a cover story in Belagere’s publication earlier, threw a series of challenges to the tabloid editor.
On another night, the publisher of a competing tabloid pulled out love letters allegedly written by Belagere. A telephone caller, who claimed he was a police inspector, called Belagere “loafer” and “420” on-air.
Ravi Belagere again reappeared on TV9 to explain the many photographs and videos he had shot to prove his “intellectual property rights” over the disputed film, but the film’s key men had parked themselves in the Suvarna studios.
In between, Kannada Prabha jumped in to the action.
On page one on Tuesday, it led with the account of another journalist T.K. Malagonda, who claimed he had written about Chandappa Harijan long before Belagere, and that he had provided all the information and photographs to him and that he had not been acknowledged for his effort—the very claim Belagere was making.
On Tuesday night, Suvarna News went one step further. As the two-hour show went on, a crawler ran on TV screens: “If who have been harassed by Ravi Belagere, please dial 080-40977111.”
A long and famous friendship, it seemed, had come to an end.
Vidhu Vinod Chopra, the film maker and producer behind such big hits as Parinda, 1942: A Love Story, Munnabhai MBBS and 3 Idiots, is a big fan of focus groups—exposing a small audience to a film before its release and tailoring the finished product based on their reaction.
In an interview with Shekhar Gupta of the Indian Express for NDTV’s Walk the Talk programme, Chopra extends the focus-group logic to journalism; a practise that has been and is tried by some media houses in a limited sort of way in the name of giving readers and viewers “what they want”.
I believe you pioneered the idea of a focus group—you call a bunch of people, show your films to them.
Yes, Ferrari ki Sawaari (an upcoming film) has been seen by 500 people already. 3 Idiots was seen by over a thousand. I’m the only guy who shows the movie because I’m willing to listen to them.
How does it work?
I’m open to criticism. That’s the big thing. Let’s say you have written an article. You are running this newspaper. I read it and I tell you I don’t agree. There are two ways you can look at it. One is, let me listen to him, I may or may not agree with him. The other is, what does he know about newspapers?
Read the full article: Vidhu Vinod Chopra
On Saturday, the venture capitalist Mahesh Murthy drew attention, through his Facebook account, to the differing number of stars in The Times of India review for the same film (Housefull-2) by the same reviewer (Srijana Mitra Das) in the Bombay and Madras editions of the paper.
ToI got the “discrepancy” rectified, but the disparity remains in the Kochi edition.
Links and screenshots via M.V.J. Kar
“There was a telephone call from my father, who lives abroad, a few days ago. He wanted to know if it was true that the Army had planned to attack Delhi back in January, as reported in The Indian Express. Don’t worry, I said, no such thing. If the Army Chief had planned a coup to ensure he spent another year in office, then he wouldn’t have filed a petition on his date of birth in the Supreme Court.
“When we rang off, it seemed that there must be many ordinary Indians far and near who were scared by this story. What a shame. And the author tried to camouflage the cynical timing of the story (immediately after the government’s ugly spat with the Army Chief) by saying the story took 11 weeks to materialise.
“That would be credible if the story was loaded with data or fieldwork, like a story on child malnutrition in Maharashtra, for instance; it wasn’t. Even an RTI application gets answered in less time (though no RTI request would have generated such a cock-and-bull story).
“At the end of the day, a well-regarded journalist (he reported on the Nellie massacre in Assam nearly 30 years ago) was used by a cynical government. Guess who emerged from this looking diminished….”
“Too many editors in India (mostly the post-superannuation lot) who would never dare publish irreverence because they believe themselves to be part of the ruling class, and that it is their job to steer the country…. [Here] the editor not only values his friendship with the powerful over his devotion to his profession, but never hesitates to make himself the centre of the story.
“Compare men of letters (like Kingsley Amis and Edmund Wilson) with those in India who today have no ideology other than the service of power. Instead of the watchdog of democracy they would rather be the lapdog of crony capitalism.”
Read the full article: When the watchdog turns lapdog
Emran Hashmi, the Bollywood actor who has attained the reputation of a “serial kisser” in his film career, is to play the role of an “upwardly mobile journalist with a top news channel” in the upcoming film, Rush.
HT City, the city supplement of the Hindustan Times in Delhi, quotes the movie’s director as saying Hashmi’s character is based on Rajdeep Sardesai of CNN-IBN and Arnab Goswami of Times Now.
A full-page advertisement on the back page of the Bombay newspaper, DNA, hitting out at you-know-who:
From luring the brands with incentives to no-escape clauses in their advertising contracts, the industry is stooping to newer lows for gaining advertising revenue. However, at DNA, we still hold a torch to some old-fashioned traditional values. Our principles guide us.
# We have no qualms if you choose to advertise in other publications along with DNA.
# You are free to decide how much of your communication budget you want to spend with us.
# With whom do you want to advertise first is absolutely your call.
# There is no clause to lock-in ads with us for any particular duration of time.
# The ownership pattern of your company is exclusively your domain and is most sacrosanct to us. We are not going to barter the ad space in DNA for stakes in your company’s ownership.
Link via M.V.J. Kar