Ranjona Banerji: Sympathy for the ill-informed DD anchor?

02 Dec,2014

By Ranjona Banerji

 

Last week, a video of a Doordarshan anchor at International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Goa went viral. Let’s be clear. The girl was awful. She was babbling, did not know cinema, did not recognise important people, did not know how to look at the camera, got easily distracted, did not seem to realise she was on air, kept nodding at people who were off-camera, asked inane questions and was a total disaster.

 

Unfortunately for her, her horrendous second appearance on national television was captured for posterity and seen by thousands on social media who may not have otherwise watched Doordarshan. She was also the subject of the sort of vicious remarks that social media excels in. People speculated about whether she was so happy because she had lost her virginity to her being stupid, crazy, dumb and so on.

 

The girl is apparently “traumatised” by the attacks:

http://www.telegraphindia.com/1141129/jsp/nation/story_19102425.jsp#.VHlBlP9yrk1.twitter

 

Let’s assume she has no future in television after this debacle.

 

But let us also spare a thought for the training that goes into being on television. Or lack of it, as in this case. The head of Doordarshan’s Mumbai office (responsible for the coverage) says her mike was not working. But this technical issue was the least of her problems. She clearly had done no homework and did not know what she was talking about. So what was she doing on air in the first place? We all understand how shallow we are but surely, surely, a few more skills are required in this job than a pretty face? Was there no one more experienced on DD’s payroll or phone books?

 

Once it was obvious just how she couldn’t cope, why didn’t DD take her off air? They’ve done enough disastrous switches in the past – my own most traumatic was switching to news at the end of a Wimbledon final in the late 1970s – to know how it can be done. One of those “Rukavat ke liye khed hai” (we are sorry for the break) messages that were once a staple on DD? No? Then how about someone with half a brain using at least a quarter of it?

 

And finally, the cruelty on social media is a given. But it is also true that those who can dish it out can rarely take it. Lesson for us all in there somewhere.

 

**

 

Two girls are groped in a bus (Rohtak, Haryana). They decide to fight back and thrash the men involved. The passengers watch the fun. The bus driver and conductor do nothing. One girl is thrown off the bus. Usual national and television outrage after.

 

However, why do news channels make this a political issue? And am I really asking this question? Some problems are social issues and the treatment of women is one of them. No matter which political dispensation is in power, misogyny and patriarchy squeak through. Why not speak to social activists, to the cheerleaders of patriarchy, to the families of the men who groped these women and leave politicians out of it? Most serious conversations get diverted into that ridiculous you did this, you did that game and the issue is forgotten.

 

Sorry. I have to end here. I’m going to look for a brick wall.

 

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