Anil Thakraney: Always the spectator. Never the player

28 Nov,2011

By Anil Thakraney


Quite saddened to hear that a fellow journo may have abetted the murder of crime reporter J Dey. Mind you, the allegations against her have still to be proved in the court of law, so we will know the facts only after the legal process is done.


However, here’s a concern and let me first illustrate this with a little example. I had once gone to interview the Maharashtra Power Minister, armed with some tough questions on the frequent power outages in the state. He was already surrounded by 20 fawning reporters from the state’s vernacular press. And the mantri insisted I do the interview with all of them seated in the background. He said he had to rush to Pune for a meeting, and would not have the time to meet me separately. Yes, I had taken a prior appointment but these silly things don’t matter to netas. With not much choice in the matter, I agreed. And after each serious question, the minister would loudly guffaw and make fun, looking to his audiences for support. And yes, the reporters behaved like his cheerleaders, and would also laugh as he laughed. Of course, this didn’t matter to me at all, and I went on firing. This is because when I do an interview, it’s like making love, my entire attention is on the subject, and as Metallica sang, nothing else matters. But it doesn’t need too much intelligence to figure that the reporters had either sold out or were desperate to sell out. Or at the very least badly wanted to bond with the powerful man.


The reason I share this incident is because, as Vinod Mehta, the editor of Outlook mag says, in our profession we must always remain spectators, and never try to become players. However tempting it is to dive into the arena. As Radiagate showed us, close proximity to power and pelf is seductive. It is very tempting to go heady and jump over to the other side. And delude yourself into believing you can do it too. Those who have fallen for this attraction have almost always burnt their fingers. It’s always a fatal attraction.


No, we can’t bat like Sachin. We can’t act like Amitabh. We can’t be politicians. We can’t be underworld dons. We must remain who we are: Spectators. Whose only job is to observe, report, analyse, have a beer and go home.




PS: Shekhar Gupta is a below-average interviewer on TV. His show on NDTV is a downer. But this one I watched shell shocked. Dear Ekta, plunging necklines DON’T work on all women. In your case, it literally makes for a dirty picture. Avoid.

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