Tag Archives: Press Club of India

Is ‘Modi Media’ biased against Rahul Gandhi?

In a cash-strapped election season which has seen “corporate interest and media ownership” converge, it is arguable if Narendra Modi is getting a free run. Every whisper of the Gujarat chief minister and BJP “prime ministerial aspirant” is turned into a mighty roar, sans scrutiny, as the idiot box ends up being a soapbox of shrill rhetoric.

In marked contrast, there is only grudging media adulation for the Congress’s Rahul Gandhi even on the odd occasion he does something right, like two Fridays ago, when he barged into a Press Club of India event to stymie an ordinance passed by the Congress-led UPA government, intended at shielding criminal Members of Parliament.

What’s up, asks Malvika Singh in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

“The press and the Opposition leaders began to pontificate on the language used by Rahul Gandhi. They spent hours damning the use of the word ‘nonsense’, which only meant that something makes no sense.

“They were clutching on to whatever they could find to ensure they gave no credit for Rahul Gandhi. The bias was crystal clear and gave the game away.

“Why is the press distorting the simple truth? Is it because the press would have to doff its hat to Rahul Gandhi, about whom it has been rude and sarcastic? Why is the press being partisan? Why the double standards?”

Read the full column: Put an end to chatter

Photograph: courtesy Press Brief

Also read: How Narendra Modi buys media through PR

Modi‘s backers and media owners have converged’

‘Network18’s multimedia Modi feat, a promo’


The journalism film that Dev Anand didn’t make

Indian Express editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta pens a warm and personal profile of the departed Bollywood star Dev Anand in today’s paper, with this concluding first-person experience:

“His curiosity about my life and years as a reporter too was never-ending. Sometimes, on those long evenings, I would end up telling him stories from the pickets, trenches, minefields and snipers’ alleys just as I might tell my children. And he listened just as curiously as the children.

“So he said to me one day, ‘Shekhar, let me make a film on your life.’

“I said thank you, and that it was such a funny idea.

“But he said no, there will be a journalist like you who goes from one battlefield to another, Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur under tribal insurgencies, Amritsar under Bhindranwale and Operation Bluestar, the massacres at Nellie and in Delhi after Indira Gandhi’s assassination, Afghanistan and Pakistan during the first (and “good”) jihad against the Soviets, Jaffna under LTTE and IPKF, Baghdad’s Al Rashid hotel and Jerusalem under Scud missile attacks in the first Gulf War — he remembered all the various stops in my years of reporting conflict.

“There will be many, many interesting women in his life, including an ambitious politician, a Pakistani spy and a pretty foreign journalist, he said, ‘what a film it will turn out to be, Shekhar, socho zara.’

“I asked him, cheekily, so, Dev Saab, who will play me in your film?

“‘For the younger phase, we will have to find somebody. Lekin thoda senior hone ke baad,’ he said, of course he would be playing that lead role himself!”

At the time of the interaction, Dev Anand was 80 years old and Shekhar Gupta, 46.


Pankaj Vohra, political editor of the Hindustan Times, writes in today’s paper:

“I remember that I had invited him to the Press Club of India for a “Meet the Press” programme, just before Sache Ka Bol Bala was to be released. There was no electronic media and I doubt that any actor in our history has received the kind of coverage he got on the front pages of every newspaper, which came out from Delhi.

“The story is that originally, the report was slated for page three in the Dainik Hindustan. But when the night foreman saw Dev Anand’s picture and the report, he ran it on the front page telling his colleagues that he was prepared to face the consequences the next day as “Dev Anand has to be on page one”. This is the kind of committed following he had.”


Raja Sen in Mumbai Mirror:

“I was lying in bed, bleary eyed and half-asleep, making up for a particularly long and raucous night when the phone rang. “This is Dev Anand,” the voice trilled, in that exact iconic, oft-mimicked tone we’ve all heard, and I instantly, instinctively stood up — y know, like in the movies where hawaldaars stand while talking to the superintendent.

“Devsaab commandeered respect by default, regardless of fading importance and diminishing cinematic quality, and here he was calling up in response to an SMS I’d sent about an interview and totally throwing me off balance in the process, of course.

Goldie [Anand] would have cast you as a spy in the 70s”, he laughed later when I sat across from him in his Bandra office. He asked me what I’d like to drink, and then ordered me tea with a flourish — “inke liye aisi chai laana ki unhe yaar rahein kahan chai pee thi” — in that tone again, naturally, with a wink thrown in, and proceeded to talk.”


Bharati Dubey in The Times of India:

“The first time ever spoke to Dev Anand was after the release of his 1994 film Gangster. ‘I read your review titled ‘Gangster Disaster’,’ said the legendary actor over the phone. ‘You are entitled to your opinion. Please come and meet me at my pent house in Bandra….’

“His invitations were always personally written and he followed them up with a reminder phone call…. One never needed to go through a secretary to fix up a meeting with Dev Anand ‘I’m available on this number after 2 pm,’ he would say ‘Call me and we shall meet.'”

Read the Express article: Deeply in love with life and with himself

Read the HT article: Fiercely independent, fearless and individualistic

Read the Mumbai Mirror article: Salaam, Dev saab

Read the ToI article: Goodbye guide to romance

What men can do, women journos can do better

PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from New Delhi: Has the Indian Women’s Press Corps (IWPC) in New Delhi completely overshadowed the Press Club of India as the den where the bold-faced names like to meet the capital’s hack-pack?

Auguste Rodin receives a barb on the IWPC website

While the PCI, open to men and women, has been unable to shake off its notoriety as the watering hole of fixers, flacks, brokers, operators and other wheeler-dealers, the 15-year-old IWPC, whose membership is open only to women (the only permanent ‘male’ in its premises is said to be a date palm from Canary Islands) and doesn’t serve alcohol, has built a reputation as the place to go to if you want to meet, mingle and get your message across.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh downwards, everybody—finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, the first lady of Syria Asma Akhras al-Assad—everybody happily troops to the IWPC to meet the interrogators whose mission statement is to “celebrate the past and shape the future”, while their male counterparts up the hill stare into their bloody Marys.

What really has given IWPC the edge over PCI in recent times, though, is the ability of the 2009-10 team of Neerja Chowdhury, T.K. Rajalakshmi & Co to attract newsmakers.

As the Congress-led UPA government launched Operation Green Hunt to meet “India’s gravest internal security threat”, home minister P. Chidambaram appeared at Windsor Place.

When DRDO scientist K. Santhanam levelled questioned India’s claims on the efficacy of its 1998 nuclear tests, he chose the IWPC to clarify his position to the country at large.

And so it was on Saturday, when the actor Jaya Bachchan faced queries, but there was a message in the non-existent bottle for the gathered women who had hoped to corner her on her husband Amitabh Bachchan‘s controversial appearance on a stage with a Congress chief minister.

Jaya, daughter of the late (and legendary) “Special Representative” of The Statesman, Taroon Coomar Bhaduri, also used the opportunity to remind the women of the Indian press corps of their covenant.

Referring to the Bombay tabloid Mumbai Mirror‘s crass coverage of her daughter-in-law Aishwarya Rai‘s health, Jaya had several bones to pick with the media:

“Her most recent grievance was that a tabloid refused to print a retraction after publishing false news about the Bachchans, even though the woman editor apologised privately.

“It is not just women MPs who needed to be sensitive on the gender issue, lady journalists should show greater fairness when reporting about other women,” she said.”

Time to consider 33 per cent reservation for men at the IWPC?!


Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa meets an IWPC team led by then Indian Express (Delhi) editor Coomi Kapoor in Colombo in July 2006 (courtesy TamilNet)

Cartoon: courtesy Indian Women’s Press Corps