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