Anil Thakraney: We need an Oprah in India

21 Jan,2013

By Anil Thakraney


Why do top celebs like speaking to Oprah? Especially so when they desire to come clean on their sins? One obvious reason is the penetration of her show. You are assured of reaching millions of people at one go, so it’s a big bang for the buck. There are also nasty rumours going around in the case of the Lance Armstrong interview, suggesting that Oprah’s company and the TV channel paid major bucks to the cycling champ to ‘confess’ on their show. I suspect this is loose talk from Oprah’s envious rivals, so this reasoning is best left ignored.


The other reason why Oprah gets preferred is that she’s a wonderful television interviewer. She brings in a healthy combination of curiosity and compassion to the interview. So, even as she fires tough questions, her eyes seem to suggest she does feel a tad sorry for the celebrity, for the trauma he/she is going through. This makes Oprah’s guests comfortable, and that’s critical for a good interview. Another good thing about Oprah is that she’s non-judgmental, she leaves that part of the deal to her audiences. This, again, is another reason why she’s favoured by celebs; the last thing a troubled soul wants is to be judged by the interviewer. And there’s a lesson in this for our aggressive, judgmental, in-your-face TV anchors and interviewers. Sadly, we don’t have a single TV person out here in Oprah’s league.


About her much publicized two-part interview with Lance Armstrong, which the entire world watched, I have to say the disgraced champ blew an opportunity to win a little public sympathy. Even though he freely pleaded guilty to the doping charges, his mannerism and his body language told us the man isn’t really sorry for what he’s done, and it was also clear this TV interview was an exercise in currying favour with the anti-doping authorities, a desperate last ditch attempt at winning another chance to get back to the races. The key word he used is ‘flawed’. This means he’s still not taking responsibility for his actions, Armstrong seems to suggest there’s something wrong in his genetic make-up. Ergo, the cheatfest wasn’t deliberate. Complete nonsense, I say. Only the really gullible will fall for this crappy DNA logic.


But full marks to Ms Winfrey for a good job done. In a way I feel bad for our desi celebs. Even when they decide to come clean, there’s not a single TV host they can go to without feeling edgy and nervy.




PS: Disruptive advertising at its best. That too from a direct television brand. Also, super use of movie star Charlie Sheen. A good example of how to be crazy in advertising while remaining focused on the product/service on offer.


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