Anil Thakraney: Blackout of Crime Patrol’s episode was senseless

14 Jan,2013

By Anil Thakraney


I was quite disappointed with the abrupt cancellation of Crime Patrol’s weekend episode, which was based on the terrifying Delhi gang rape and murder. As am sure were millions of other viewers. As a journalist, I am aware of most of the details of this horrific crime, so clearly there was nothing new the TV serial was going to offer me. My curiosity stemmed as a creative person; I wanted to see how the producers would deal with such an incident and its aftermath.


The cancellation happened because the I&B Ministry ‘advised’ Sony against broadcasting the episode. This was clearly a ‘farman’ disguised as an advisory, and the channel dutifully obeyed it. While I am against the idea of the media backing down to government’s orders, I know where Sony is coming from. Disobedience can and will have ramifications in the long run. When the ruling government decides to fix you, you are in deep trouble, as the Tehelka guys would testify.


My problem with the cancellation is this: Crime Patrol is one reality crime show that never sensationalizes crime. It has a track record of hundreds of episodes to prove this. The team deals with the incidents with a great deal of care and sensitivity. So I am one hundred percent certain that would be the case with the Delhi rape as well. The show’s focus has always been on crime prevention. Which is why the right thing in this situation would have been for the I&B Ministry babus to preview the episode, and THEN decide whether it is suitable for telecast or not. This sort of arbitrary notice for cancellation reeks of high handedness and insecurity on the part of the government.


My other problem with the ‘advisory’ is that it defies all logic. The government has no problem with the news channels repeatedly discussing, debating (and often provoking) on this story. In fact, short of naming the victim, every single gory detail has been reported/discussed in the news media. But the babus have a problem with an entertainment channel telecasting a show based on the same incident! This is complete nonsense.


Anyway, the entertainment channels have to take their own call on when to and when not to buckle under pressure. I only want to alert them on one thing: The more you bow down to unreasonable demands, the more they’ll walk all over you. There will have to come a time when you will need to take a strong stand.


PS: Birthday cards are usually trashy, at least in India. But elsewhere, things seem to be getting interesting. Here’s a tweet about a Hallmark card meant for a 13 year old. Yup, it’s scandalous, but at least it’s not boring!


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