[MJR] TV journos prove Katju is right

18 May,2012

Ranjona Banerji

By Ranjona Banerji


Journalists have evidently signed a pact to prove Press Council of India chairman Markandey Katju right – 90 per cent of Indians are idiots. There seems to be no other reason for this enormous media reaction to the late night fracas between film star Shah Rukh Khan and a security guard at Wankhede stadium two nights ago.


Of course, the shenanigans of film stars are exciting and when they behave badly it’s even more fun. But is there anything to justify front page headlines and TV debates for two days? What exactly is there to debate? Khan arrived last the stadium around the time Kolkata beat Mumbai, with a bunch of kids. The kids ran into the field. A security guard stopped them. Khan intervened. Words were exchanged and some apparently not very polite ones and then Khan left.


For this, the world has come to an end. We are discussing politeness, propriety, banning, apologies, role models, respect for the uniform, high-handedness, diplomacy, official inefficiency, entitlement or the sense thereof, protection of children and the decibel level of whistles.


If we went to war with China, I cannot imagine more being discussed on television. The journalists on TV cannot seem to distinguish between a security guard and a policeman. Rahul Kanwal almost burst a blood vessel when on Headlines Today veteran adman Prahlad Kakkar tore into the behaviour of security guards: “You have to respect the uniform”. I would really like to know how any of these TV guests react when faced with the officiousness of a security guard.


Kakkad was a rare voice of sanity as was Rohan Gavaskar who said: “Banning Shah Rukh Khan from Wankhede is like banning Sachin Tendulkar from PVR”. Meaningless, in other words. Except for Arun Lal on Times Now, no one wanted to discuss whether officials of the Mumbai Cricket Association, who called for a ban on Khan entering Wankhede, were not over-reacting. Lal said it’s a question of contesting fiefdoms – with Khan as an IPL team owner against MCA officials with their hurt pride at being event managers rather than stakeholders.


The levels of self-righteous on Times Now were staggering, with anchor Arnab Goswami, veteran columnist and author Shobhaa De and not-so-veteran columnist Simi Chandok leading the way. Goswami kept bringing up police action against Hollywood stars Nicholas Cage and Russell Crowe, again unable to distinguish between security guard and a policeman. (Hint: different uniform.)


Former Mumbai police commissioner MN Singh tried to point out that criminal charges against Khan were not possible and this led to him being dragged over hot coals by Goswami. When the nation wants to know, let no man or woman try and douse the fire.


Commentator Charu Sharma however poured cold water on Rahul Kanwal’s spectacular rage – mainly it seemed because uniforms were not being respected, apparently a prime concern in his life – by forecasting that an amicable resolution would be reached and the incident would soon be forgotten. The truth is that everyone knows that that is what will happen.


As a matter of interest, after all the hot air expended over the fight which Saif Ali Khan had in a restaurant at the Taj a few months ago, can anyone remember the names of those self-righteously hurt complainants from South Africa? Hmmm.


* * *


On NDTV, I watched another somewhat circular debate over whether PA Sangma could become the next president of India. These speculative discussion with weak premises only illustrate our emptiness of thought. I greatly admire Divya Marathi editor Kumar Ketkar for his fortitude and level of tolerance as he sits through so many TV debates these days, trying to inject a little sanity into proceedings.


It seems amazing to me that no TV people seem able to realise that all this political hoopla over the next president is just a diversionary tactic from all the political problems this country is facing.


Goswami even wants a debate between Sangma and Vice-President Hamid Ansari, since he possibly believes that India has a presidential form of government. Contestant 1: I will plant 400 varieties of roses in the gardens. Contestant 2: I will conduct the tours of Rashtrapati Bhavan myself. Contestant 3: I will never build a large retirement home for myself. Contestant 4: I will never bore school children with my poems and ideas.


Please, somebody, save us!


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2 responses to “[MJR] TV journos prove Katju is right”

  1. Rohang says:

    But why pick out TV journalists in your headline, the newspapers the next day were no better…or is it poor things know no better than to take their cues from the previous night’s tv debates!

  2. Ananda Puranik says:

    Couldnt agree more on the Newshour debate…so much so havent been abl to watch news for 2 evenings in a rows

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