Ranjona Banerji: When Cyrus Broacha excelled at playing Arnab

26 Aug,2014

By Ranjona Banerji


I had stopped watching The Week That Wasn’t on CNN-IBN some months ago because I felt they had got too one-sided in their satires and spoofs. The Congress deserved and deserves every joke directed at it but what made the BJP exempt was either intriguing or nefarious. A welcome contrast was So Sorry on Headlines Today/Aaj Tak which attacked everyone equally and to excellent effect. I had written about this in these columns when we were tracking how the media was turning rightwing as Narendra Modi’s election campaign became more strident.


I have heard since then that some weak and weedy jokes had been made about the BJP and some even weaker jokes about Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, since I stumbled  upon the programme while channel-surfing this week I was treated to a brilliant deconstruction of The News Hour by Arnab Goswami. Cyrus Broacha played Goswami with consummate ease, Kunal Vijaykar played a couple of Pakistanis and Gopal Dutt played a highly moustachioed Indian retired army general as well as a saffron politician.


Broacha of course hogged the segment because, well, Goswami hogs his show. The “never ever never ever ever” line that Goswami used when Meenakshi Lekhi of the BJP accused him of taking money from LGBT groups was repeated several times as expected, as well as his constant assertions of his own popularity.


And lo and behold, one teeny-tiny cough-and-you-would-have-missed-it joke was made about Modi. Broacha-as-Goswami said, ha ha ha, that they were frightened of Modi so could not ask him a question. Indeed. Self-awareness masquerading as humour? Since I’ve set myself up as the judge-jury-executioner on this one, I need to see a little more attacks on this prime minister like there were on the last one.




Meanwhile, the news channels somewhat straightened themselves from their big tilt to the right. The bypoll results were a bit, er, unsatisfactory for the BJP – the party and its allies gained nothing and lost much. TV debates whipped up hysteria but 18 bypoll results cannot unseat a majority government at the Centre sworn into power only three months ago.


Newspapers provided the nitty-gritty which makes the difference. The Times of India tells us that in Bihar, the saffron alliance (which won four out of 10 seats) lost eight percentage points of the vote share. This is worrying for the ruling coalition and good news for the Opposition. The Congress of course was written off by many since the media only sees life in black and white (and no longer alas as the old joke went, read all over!).




While on the Times of India, BCCL has instituted an odd social media policy for its employees according to a story in quartz.com where personal Facebook and Twitter accounts can be used by the company. Passwords and logins have to be handed over so that posts can be monitored and matter can be posted in their names.


Does this not seem worse than the Hindu turning its offices into vegetarian fortresses? It does to me. Here are the details: http://qz.com/253025/the-times-of-india-just-instituted-a-bizarre-twitter-and-facebook-policy/



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One response to “Ranjona Banerji: When Cyrus Broacha excelled at playing Arnab”

  1. aayeff says:


    For democracy its oxygen is the authentic opposition to rulers who may otherwise ride over the people. This is supposed to bring a balance. In bringing this balance, the media is supposed to play a vital role.

    Today, all of media has aligned with the so-called “winners”. Opposition even where it is legitimate is muted! Praise at every opportunity is lavish. Why is the media doing this? Is sycophancy built-in the Indian DNA? Or is it fear that unlike Congress, the new ruler/s will not take kindly to criticism and become vindictive.

    Can’t understand or explain this phenomenon.