Ranjona Banerji: Do TV reporters need to develop a sense of humour?

03 Feb,2015

By Ranjona Banerji


That we are somewhat short on humour as a nation is well known. And that we are somewhat too concerned about upholding the conservative aspects of our notions of culture is also well known. So it is hardly surprising that the various professional saviours of Indian culture have jumped up to protest against the All India Bakchod Knockout, a “roast” of Bollywood actors Arjun Kapoor and Ranveer Singh by filmmaker Karan Johar and a group of India’s top stand-up comedians.


All India Bakchod videos found on Youtube – so in a sense it is part of the free world of the internet. It makes fun of our attitudes and us and god knows we need someone to take us down a peg or two. For instance, after the Times of India versus Deepika Padukone fight over a tweet about her cleavage, it took on the TOI with a must-watch “Times of Boobs” edit meet. After actor Alia Bhatt revealed her lack of general knowledge on Karan Johar’s talk show, they made “Genius of the Year” where Bhatt goes to a “mind gym” to get smart.


The AIB Knockout however was a live performance, done at Mumbai’s NSCI in Worli and the profits went to charity. The language was scatological and so were the jokes. But the humour was to the point, it followed the old American tradition of attacking the target and the result was great fun. The audience – which had bought tickets – and the stars were being roasted seemed to enjoy it.


I can hear you thinking, where does the media come into this? Here you go. In the land of 24 hour news television, there is an understandable need to fill up the time. Especially, I assume, if you are bored with Narendra Modi, Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi and the Delhi elections. So India News decided to make the AIB Knockout its focus. It asked a series of questions which were more to provoke a negative reaction than to actually report on the news: Should such a show be allowed, does not such a show attack our culture, should such terrible language not be condemned and so on.


The reporter then pulled out some people from some protesting group and gave them airtime.


I have a question for India News as well: Should news channels report on news or create news? I thought we’d gone past those days when TV reporters begged people to immolate themselves just to get TRPs? And also, should the morality of an individual reporter be magnified and portrayed as the morality of an entire society?


I know I know. Why do I even ask? Meanwhile, do watch the Knockout. Even if you are squeamish about people naming body parts, once you get past that, it’s great fun.




The new Times Now “Action begins here” ads are intriguing to say the least. You see images of India’s soul-destroying poverty. You hear a voice talking about numbers. You hear Arnab Goswami taking on the voice. Or, you see a woman being molested and chased by a group of men. You hear Goswami and a voice talking about women’s safety with Goswami attacking the voice’s claims.


The screen says “Times Now. Action begins here”.


Yeah man, great. But what does it all mean? How will action begin on Times Now? Will Goswami be a one-man crusade to solve the nation’s problems? If so, where does that leave the other two one-man shows Narendra Modi and Arvind Kejriwal?




In other news, all news on TV is about the Delhi elections and the fight between the various candidates. That is mainly the BJP and the AAP with the Congress lurking about somewhere. The rest of India will have to wait for another week.


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One response to “Ranjona Banerji: Do TV reporters need to develop a sense of humour?”

  1. deadlyrocker says:

    Its not feeling squeamish about listening to body parts stated ‘in-your-face-‘ but honestly, if the mention of body parts can send people in splits, the meaning of humour needs to be defined all over again.