PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from New Delhi: Chalk and cheese can never taste the same. Bill O’Reilly can never be confused for Walter Cronkite. But, on the night of the longest solar eclipse in the 21st century, probably because of it, something close happened on Indian TV.
Prannoy Roy (right), the calm and cultivated voice of assurance of India’s original private broadcaster New Delhi Television (NDTV), was confused by a talking head for Arnab Goswami, the shrieking, shouting, hectoring, haranguing face of its competitor, Times Now.
Not on a rival channel but on Roy’s own NDTV, the channel where Goswami cut his television teeth before jumping ship to launch the news channel for The Times of India group as its “Howard Beale“.
On “India Decides @ 9”, NDTV’s primetime show which now sees Roy making an increasing number of appearances, possibly to counter Goswami’s 9 pm appearance on the Newshour, the BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad was asked a question on the topic of the day: the government’s alleged capitulation to the United States on the nuclear deal.
Little realising which channel he was on, Prasad proceeded to deliver his setpiece answer:
“Let me tell you, Arnab Goswami….”
“Arnab Goswami?” Roy tried to intervene.
But Prasad went on merrily as Roy, 60, buried his face on screen. After Prasad finished, Roy said it was in the fitness of things that he read out his bio-data—that he was Prannoy Roy, not Arnab Goswami.
When Prasad tried to apologise for the goof-up, Roy was graciousness personified.
“It’s OK if you call me Arnab Goswami. He’s part of the NDTV family. He’s one of us. He was born and brought up here.”
The confusion was probably caused because the Outdoor Broadcasting (OB) vans of different channels line up before the offices and residences of the spokesmen of the various political parties, who appear on different stations one after the other, with barely enough time to catch their breath.
Doubtless, Ravi Shankar Prasad was on Times Now immediately after his NDTV appearance, where, mercifully, he did not confuse Arnab Goswami for his bete noire Rajdeep Sardesai, who co-hosts “India at Nine”. Sardesai, like Goswami, left Roy’s NDTV to launch CNN-IBN.
Roy can only hope that, like the solar eclipse, this eclipse will only last a short while, and that not many may have seen it due to the inclement weather.