Tag Archives: Shobha De

The 5 stereotypes of journalists in Bollywood


In the 1983 hit comedy, Jaane bhi do yaaro, Naseeruddin Shah and Ravi Vaswani work as freelance photographers for Khabardar, a muckraking magazine edited by “Shobha Sen”, played by Bhakti Barve Inamdar

Much as the role of the hero and the heroine has morphed in the Hindi film industry, so has the depiction of the villain and the vamp—and, of course, the journalist.

From a pure print person till well into the late 1980s, the journalist on film is now largely a TV person.

From a poorly paid, poorly dressed, paan-chewing jholawala working for a “cause”, we are now (largely) shown as slick, loud-mouthed, loose-tongued buffoons, in bed with the crooked and the corrupt, and not very different from them.

Two young London-based Indian journalists, Ruhi Khan (formerly of Hindustan Times, Mumbai Mirror & NDTV) and her husband Danish Khan (formerly of Mid-Day and Mumbai Mirror), have analysed 33 films over the last 30 years and written a paper for the journal “The Image of the Journalist in Popular Culturepublished by the University of Southern California at Annenberg.

“Our analysis revealed five popular representations of the journalist that we have classified as romantic companion, glamour chaser, investigative superhero, power magnate, and brainless mouthpiece.

“These categories, though distinct, can also find themselves sharing screen space and often overlapping in the same film’s narrative.

“These stereotypes have been so strongly entrenched in Bollywood scripts that even films inspired by reallife incidences fail to break free of them.”

Here, the Khans introduce their work.



Working as journalists in India’s tinsel town Mumbai-home to Bollywood cinema, one often comes across various public prejudices against the reporter. From being revered and trusted to help foster change for the better, to being accused of trivialising the profession or manipulating news for profits.

The IJPC article stemmed for our desire to find out how such public perceptions are influenced. In this article we analyse only one element – perhaps one of the greatest factors that can affect mass perceptions—Bollywood films.

Most commercial films are not a prism reflecting reality, but a figment of someone’s imagination and desire to see the world as he or she would like to. Hindi film is devoid of much reality and is often an exaggeration, yet it defines its audience’s aspirations and perceptions.

And this is what the article reflects—the caricature images of journalists portrayed by Bollywood, from their most Romeo-like romantic image to their most macho Rambo superhero.

We analysed 33 films over a 30-year period from 1981 to 2011, ranging from “Mr. India” to “Rockstar,” where the role of the journalist or media has been important in the film’s narrative script or has been entrenched in public memory for its journalistic aspects.

Our analysis revealed five popular representations of journalists. We found many Bollywood films depicting journalists as a Romantic Companion to the other lead protagonist. This is where the focus is on the scribe’s singing, dancing or seducing skills rather than his reporting.

A more realistic category is the Glamour Chaser where reporters are portrayed as flies fluttering around a ‘celebrity’ candy. Need we say more on this, doesn’t seem much difference in real and reel life journalists in this category?

In the Investigative Superhero category the journalist makes powerful enemies in the course of his or her investigative work, just like a superhero who takes on the bad guys. This category showed us two opposite depictions of journalists. While the first half of the period in which our analysis takes place showed investigative reporters often paying a heavy price for their work- often being martyrs in the process; in the latter part the journalist began leveraging his or her profession to safeguard himself or herself by garnering the power of the fourth estate and mobilizing public support and scrutiny.

Next, category Power Magnate shows the media as ‘kingmakers’ holding the power to sway decisions on prominent issues. Prominent senior journalists are ‘sense-makers’ where in they have the power to influence how the public should interpret complex issues.

The last category is the one most journalists in real life are very uncomfortable to even acknowledge but the reel gives plenty of examples to entrench it strongly in public memory—the Brainless Mouthpiece speaks of the most prevalent public perception where journalists are shown as brainless twits who simply follow instructions, bytes, or gossip without questioning anything.


Read the full paper: From Romeo to Rambo


Raveen Tandon as Shobha De: Glamourous, sexy, brainy, seductive

Look, who wants to play Christiane Amanpour: Kareena Kapoor

Emran Hashmi to play Rajdeep Sardesai, Arnab Goswami

Journalism film Dev Anand didn’t make featuring Shekhar Gupta

Ram Gopal Verma‘s hit and Rann: ‘I want to expose media’

Will the underworld a hot reporter like Gul Panag?

Anju Mahendroo plays queen bee of film journalism, Devyani

For Sashi Kumar, Ranganath Bharadwaj, acting is second nature

Finally, Karnataka gets an acting chief minister: Ravi Belagere


30-plus, glamourous, sexy, brainy and seductive*

Raveena Tandon is playing Shobhaa De, the former editor of Stardust, Society and Celebrity, in the Hindi film Shobhana’s Seven Nights that is already doing the rounds at international film festivals. But quite clearly the journalist turned best-selling author is not amused.

In an interview with Kavitha Shanmugham of The Telegraph last Sunday, Tandon says:

“The movie is about a gossip columnist and pulp fiction writer, and most people are assuming that it’s about Shobhaa De. I would say some traits of the character—such as her spunk and attitude—are inspired by her, but the story is not.

“Shobhaa De is a dear friend and avery different person from the one depicted in the film. However, her publisher is called Harry Davidar in the film and the logo of his publishing house does look like a penguin. That part is deliberate (smiles mischeviously).”

However, in January, the movie’s director, Sudipto Chattopadhyay hadtold Mumbai Mirror that the character was clearly based on De:

“Yes, Raveena plays a character based on Shobhaa De, who’s a dear friend of mine. So, I’ve taken the liberty of borrowing from her personality. I needed someone 30-plus, glamorous, sexy, brainy and seductive to play the part, and Raveena was my first and last choice.”

*Search engine optimisation techniques at work

Also read: Will underworld dons trust such a hot reporter?

Enter: the queen bee of Bollywood film journalists

Mouth ka saudagar to play Arnab and Rajdeep

For some journos, acting is second string in bow

Finally, Karnataka gets an ‘acting’ chief minister

Look, who wants to play Christiane Amanpour!

Shobha De tears into Vinod Mehta in India Today

There are two tried and tested formulas for commissioning reviews in the shockingly incestuous bordello of Indian books that has now spread its wings into Indian journalism.

The supposedly dignified formula is to get an author’s friend or associate to do the unctuous needful (say a Khushwant Singh to “review” a David Davidar) so that reputations are protected, nothing damaging is said and everybody gets called for the next orgiastic party.

Its opposite recipe is to get a hired gun who will fire at will (say a Mihir S. Sharma to pump into Suhel Seth) so that the old gasbag is punctured, some buzz is released, and major “trending” happens in blogosphere.

India Today magazine uses the latter technique in the latest issue while belatedly reviewing Outlook* magazine editor-in-chief Vinod Mehta‘s memoirs.

In Lucknow Boy, published nearly three months ago, Mehta gives the sultana of scuttlebutt, former Stardust editor Shobha De, some chosen ones— for not including an introduction to a book she had commissioned him to write and then for not having had the courtesy to inform of it, despite bumping into him off and on, etc.

De has returned the favour in kind (and more) in the India Today review calling the 306-page tome “that’s filled with Delhi style bragging… rather dull”—a loosely strung account of job-hopping full of old-fashioned self-righteousness and tedious justifications:

#What happened? Something obviously got in the way, and let’s blame it on Delhi. Had Mr Mehta continued to live and work in Mumbai, I am certain he would have written a far more readable book.

# Mr Mehta’s sepia-toned recollections may be of some interest to his colleagues and assorted politicos who wish to be featured in the magazine he so ably edits. Give them Sunny Leone‘s unedited life story in ten easy chapters intead—now that’s riveting stuff.

# The biggest letdown in this memoir is the absence of any asli masala….

# The Mumbai Mehta was an amiable chap. He wasn’t boastful. And he could out-bitch anybody in the room. Most of the time, the bitching was about those absent. Everybody laughed—including his highly “intellectual” friends tiresome then, far worse now. But Mr Mehta had not turned as pretentious… nor did he drop names.

# The one magazine Mr Mehta missed editing and he could still do a brilliant job of it, is Stardust.

* Disclosures apply

Illustration: courtesy Keshav/ The Hindu

Also read: Vinod Mehta on Arun Shourie, Dileep Padgaonkar

It isn’t easy telling tales of even dead editors

Wife-beater? Freeloader? Menace to society?

Enter: The queen bee of Bombay film journalists

Anju Mahendroo (in picture), the colourful actress who once boasted of an off-field partnership with cricket legend Gary Sobers, is to play the role of the gossip columnist Devyani Chaubal in The Dirty Picture, based on southern sleaze queen Silk Smitha‘s life.

Devyani Chaubal wrote the saucy Frankly Speaking column in the now-defunct film magazine Star & Style, mixing insider knowledge with insinuations in bitchy Hinglish prose, a style emulated by several of her contemporaries, including Shobha De.

According to Mumbai Mirror, it was Anju herself who suggested to the movie’s director that her character should be based on Devyani.

“I told Milan Luthria that I knew Devyani at a personal level and it would be easier for me to base my character on her.

“In one scene, Vidya Balan [who plays Silk Smitha] comes up to me and asks ‘Who are you?’

“When I introduce myself, she shoots back, ‘Oh so you are the one who writes all the nasty things about me’.

“And then I answer back, ‘Well, it’s better to be written about than not’.”

Read the full article: Anju turns controversial journo

View a sample of Devyani’s writing: here

Also read: For some journos, acting is second string in bow

Finally, Karnataka gets an ‘acting’ chief minister

Khalid Mohamed on ToI, DNA, HT and the stars

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

107 headlines from ToI on Commonwealth Games

Pride of the nation? No, shame of the nation.

The following is a list of the 107 “negative” headlines on the Commonwealth Games that have greeted readers of The Times of India (Delhi market) from August 1 to September 2, 2010:

•    Now, two top cyclists fall victim to dengue
•    Dengue threat right at Games Village doorstep
•    Missed deadlines hits security, lock down of sites not possible
•    Only one week for full security drill at venues
•    The lyrics are ridiculous; 6 months and 5 crore in making, A.R.Rahman’s track for games not exactly Waka Waka or Maa Tujhe Salaam, people say
•    TOI poll – Delhiites say life disrupted, India’s image hit
•    City govt. erred in diverting SC fund for Games : PC
•    Tourists show little interest in Delhi Games
•    Dengue will peak around Games : MCD
•    CWG venues won’t be ready even if PM mops the floor : Modi
•    Whose boycott? It won’t make any difference if you skip the CWG : Jug Suraiya
•    Miffed Rathore pulls out of CWG trials
•    Vijender unhappy, Akhil OK with boxing selection trials
•    Shooters brace for the worst
•    Shivaji Stadium may not make it to games
•    Work finished in haste, rubble on roads and faulty bikes irk cyclists
•    Cutting it fine : Sheila now sets Sept 15 as deadline
•    Balloon show under cloud
•    Rain Gods unhappy, jokes CM
•    Leaky stadia : Architects say roof designs were altered
•    Venue thrown off track as earth sinks in after rain
•    City gripped by digging frenzy
•    Green cost of infrastructure projects : 40,000 trees
•    OC won’t pay docs for Games duty, says they are serving nation
•    Pvt. sponsors will make up for PSU pullout : Kalmadi
•    CWG misses yet another deadline : ticket sales
•    Rs.28,000 cr Games expense sounds like wrong priority (Azim Premji)
•    Big guns may miss CWG bus
•    Top athletes skip drug test, may make it to games
•    Drivers for ambulances till missing
•    Payment row delay work at Games
•    Now DDA under scanner over CWG pools
•    Swimming pool may not get certification from top body
•    Cops : Only 14 days for security rehearsals
•    Hospitals told to buy ‘costly’ Games medical equipment
•    UK firm charged over six times for CWG over lays
•    Catering delay : OC passes buck to IRCTC
•    Archery venue wide off the mark
•    Fennell & Hooper pushed through dodgy SMAM deal.
•    Games ambulances in need of emergency care
•    Oz legend Dawn Fracer calls for boycott at Delhi
•    Deshmukh puts Rs 300 cr. funding on hold over corruption charge
•    Nimbus pulls out of sponsor liaison bid
•    Delayed DDA projects may again miss deadlines
•    London splurge & sleaze exposed by OC official
•    Venue delays hit volunteer training program
•    No open tenders floated for big balloon
•    Latest goof-up costs Rs.1.3 cr
•    Dengue danger at games venues & hospitals
•    Patriot games (Edit) : Jug Suraiya
•    05 CWG panel never came into being
•    Eye on Games business, city sees spurt in trafficking of minor girls
•    AM films did not have director when OC accepted its bid
•    After merchandise, catering may be the next casualty
•    City roads still dug up, MCD gets the jitters
•    50 days to go : Can this mess be cleared in time for the games?
•    Roped in for games duty doctors get ill treatment
•    Merchandise – selling firm pulls out
•    Dug up & delayed, CP down in dumps
•    CWG projects : panel asks govt. to explain cost overruns
•    Cong core group grapples to find way out of mess
•    BJP seeks PM reply, no one else will do
•    Kalmadi, Fennell under ED scanner
•    No time to waste; Govt. must take charge at the games (Edit)
•    Key investors in top CWG supplier have fictitious village address
•    Games flats home to mosquitoes
•     Desperate measures : Delhi hotel may slash their rates
•    Deadline passes, no sign of CWG caterer
•    Power shortage grounds T3s domestic operations
•    Kalmadi cleared payment for AM deal which he had ‘never heard of’
•    Queen ‘not aware’ of CWG controversy
•    Now, Games tickets miss deadline, buyers angry
•    Getting to the bottom of CWG scandal, Shobha De.
•    Kalmadi’s OC had hand in all big Games buys
•    CWG controversy brings LS to a halt
•    OC omitted brands used for Olympics in recommendation
•    Pots bought for crores banned from stadia
•    Despite denials, heads star to roll – OC treasurer quits; 2 officials removed, SMAM deal scrapped
•    OC tweaked tender to keep small player out
•    OC’s free ad time demand spooking sponsors?
•    Kalmadi’s Darbari flaunted Rajiv link
•    All in the family? OC treasure’s son heads firm laying games tennis turf
•    NTPC too threatens to pull out funding
•    Early birds will find trailing venues
•    After railways, NTPC says no donation if any agency gets cut
•    OC says no hiring, will buy treadmills
•    Foul play (Edit)
•    Common stealth Games (Edit)
•    We shouldn’t have hosted CWG 2010, says Baichung
•    Rlys threatens to pull out as sponsor.
•    Suppliers hire treadmills for Rs.1.00 lakh, lease them to games for Rs.10.00 lakh
•    Delhi ignored repeated advice : Ex CVC chief
•    Catering deadline extended again
•    SC funds diversion causes uproar in RS
•    60 days …. 30 headaches
•    ED smells a rat, probes 2 more foreign payouts.
•    Out of sync agencies slowed games work
•    Officials prove CM wrong, take a dig at deadline
•    Row is political says Australia’s CWG chief.
•    Engineers say they can’t finish VK games flats
•    Delay in printing manuals affects training of volunteers
•    Net ball venue has flaws : Oz manager returned home with ‘Major Concerns’
•    Weightlifting venue opens with dripping roof, seepage in walls
•    The heavens opened up, still in denial on games
•    Forewarned govt. still in denial on games
•    The ultimate games of also-rans (M.J. Akbar)
•    Work at swimming stadium is shoddy, says FINA vice president.

Image: courtesy The Times of India

Penguin sacks ex-Gentleman, David Davidar

David Davidar, the former magazine journalist who rose to become publisher of such stellar Indian literary names as Arundhati Roy, Vikram Seth, Salman Rushdie, Khushwant Singh and Shobha De, has been sacked from Penguin Canada following charges of sexual harassment.

Davidar, 52, part of the team at the now defunct monthly, Gentleman launched by Minhaz Merchant, has been “asked to leave” the firm after a former rights and contracts director at the company, Lisa Rundle,  “brought an action” against him, Penguin Canada said in Toronto on Friday.

The new statement was in marked contrast to an earlier release on June 8 that suggested Davidar had left the company on his own to return to India to pursue his writing projects and other endeavours. Davidar is the author of two novels, The House of Blue Mangoes and The Emperor of Solitudes.

“I just felt I wanted to see if I could do something other than managing a company,” Davidar, had said in a boiler-plate exit interview. He said he and his wife were planning to return to India to live.

In a new interview, Davidar confirms he had a “friendship with my colleague” that went on for three years but says he is “dismayed Penguin Canada chose to respond to the charges by directing me to leave Penguin”:

“Earlier this week it was announced that I would be leaving Penguin Canada.  At Penguin’s request, I agreed to publicly state that my departure was voluntary.  The truth is that a former colleague accused me of sexual harassment and Penguin terminated my employment.”

Saturday’s Globe and Mail has further details of the scale of the alleged harassment as detailed by Lisa Rundle in her complaint before the Ontario superior court of justice on June 9. It suggests that Rundle was sexually harassed repeatedly over three years culminating in “outright assault” at the Frankfurt book fair last fall.

The accusations are accompanied by quotations from several e-mail messages Davidar allegedly sent to Rundle, whom he described as “utterly gorgeous,” “a vision in pink sipping a champagne cocktail.”

The court statement says:

“At the Frankfurt book fair last October Davidar appeared at Rundle’s hotel room door, ‘wearing excessive cologne, with buttons on his shirt undone down his waist’.

“Lisa stood in her hotel room into which Davidar had bullied his way, with her arms crossed, still near the door, and asked what he needed to discuss. He told her to relax and just let him come in. She refused and said she wanted to go to sleep.

“Rundle claims she climbed on a windowsill to avoid her boss and again asked him to leave. ‘He forcibly pulled her off the ledge and grabbed her by the wrists, forcing his tongue into her mouth’.”

David Davidar, who launched the Indian imprint of Penguin for the Anand Bazaar Patrika (ABP) group, moved to Canada in 2003 as head of Penguin Canada. August 15 is to be his last day at work.

Photograph: courtesy The Globe and Mail, Toronto

Read more here:

Toronto Globe & Mail: Davidar forced out

The Star: Davidar was forced to leave Penguin

The National Post: Davidar was asked to leave

Straight.com: Sexual lawsuit filed

Akhand of Swot: David Davidar‘s exit