Ranjona Banerji: Must-see interview and discussion

27 Sep,2013

By Ranjona Banerji

 

There were two very illuminating and fascinating discussions on BBC World Service and CNN this week. The first was BBC’s Hard Talk where Stephen Sackur interviewed the musician Roger Waters, founder member of the iconic rock band Pink Floyd. Waters is an intriguing figure not just because of the manner in which he left the band and then fought with the other band members to stop them from using the name but also for his song writing which challenged political positions, especially fascist ideas, but also for his spectacular stage shows. A concert in Mumbai a few years ago had fans from geriatrics with walking sticks to young engineering students all showing up.

 

Waters today is older and wiser and in a rare occurrence one sensed that the normally tough Sackur, a relentless questioner, was a bit overcome by fandom. Now 70, Waters discussed his father who was a conscientious objector at the start of the Second World War who then became a soldier, the influence of Syd Barrett the band Pink Floyd, the problems within the band after Barrett’s departure and allegations of anti-Semetism made against him. He refused to discuss his differences with guitarist David Gilmour who was not part of the original line-up and who headed the band after Waters left it. This was much to the disappointment of Sackur and of millions of Waters’ fans.

 

He even stumped Sackur a bit when he said he was surprised that Sackur should ask such an unintelligent question (pertaining to the possibility of the band reuniting). Waters referred to his parting of ways with Pink Floyd as “the schism” and also admitted that he was wrong to have fought a legal battle over the use of the name.

 

To watch the interview was not just enjoyable from the perspective of a rock fan but also to track the trajectory of a rock star and to understand the motivations of musicians. A good interview is one which draws out a person and allows the viewer glimpses into intriguing minds – without of course abandoning the constraints of civil behaviour. This interview won on all counts. A must for Waters fans, if it can be found on youtube.

 

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The second watchable TV experience was a discussion on CNN’s 360 with Anderson Cooper on the retrial ordered into the case of Marissa Alexander who was granted a retrial after she was convicted for 20 years for firing a gun in the air during a domestic dispute.

 

Lawyers, journalists and legal experts discussed the case. Even for those who had no knowledge of this case it was a fascinating conversation as the law, its provisions and its misuse were all talked about. The people involved in the conversation appeared to be knowledgeable even when they were opinionated. It goes without saying that no one yelled, threw accusations or started in-fighting on subjects outside the main topic.

 

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As for Indian news television, it seems once more to be headed towards a war with Pakistan. I have been proud to be a journalist for almost 30 years. But I shudder at the thought that we the media are now in the business of open war-mongering.

 

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