Sunday, December 05, 2021

The first ladies overload

The Taj Hotel is still burning into our memory chip the Mumbai attacks still play on all news channels with that single myth-making still of gun-toting Kasab leading the way...

Written by Shailaja Bajpai |
January 6, 2009 1:17:54 am

The Taj Hotel is still burning into our memory chip (as if it wasn’t already indelibly imprinted there); the Mumbai attacks still play on all news channels with that single myth-making still of gun-toting Kasab leading the way; the government or the security agencies are still leaking if not speaking to the media. So almost six weeks after 26/11 nothing has changed. 2008 is dead,long live 2009. 

India TV and NDTV 24×7 offered us Kasab’s interrogation as did others. But no two versions were the same. NDTV brought us excerpts like — I want to speak to my mother,I will stay here and never pick up a gun again,they say I am a hero. India TV had phone calls with ‘Aka’ the controller in Pakistan.  

Sahara Samay and Headlines Today broadcast the ‘confessions’ of BSP MLA Shekhar Tiwari who reportedly killed a PWD engineer. We saw the Guwahati blasts and the injured nursing their wounds on Zee News; and photographs of the dead Mumbai terrorists (enough to curdle amrit let alone milk) are telecast every day. It’s news as usual. 

Except. It wasn’t supposed to be,post-26/11. The government was to have a media management coordination plan that eliminated anonymous leaks here,there and everywhere,or officials who spoke in different voices. The news channels introduced self-regulation that promised not to repeat disturbing visuals of terrorist attacks or crimes. Is there some back-scratching going on here? Watching the interminable ‘Pakistan is the enemy’ coverage on channels such as Times Now,you sense they have become the government’s loudspeakers. However,since they often speak in contradictory voices we don’t know which one,if any,is the government’s. 

Another ‘jodi hamaari’:  first NDTV India telecast excerpts of Oye Friday before it’s Friday on NDTV Imagine where the show is telecast. Then,Aaj Tak broadcast excerpts of Jaya Bachchan from NDTV Good Times’ The First Ladies with Abu Sandeep; next,every single dance show,laugh show,sing-a-ling-a-ling on every entertainment channel is shown each morning,afternoon and evening on all the Hindi news channels. It’s like this only: with media company shares falling,and a 24×7 cycle to run,this is the cheap and best way to fill in the gaps between Kasab and Tiwari.  

When they can’t feed off each other,they head out. To Jaipur,Surat,or Sihore,MP.  On New Year’s Eve,New Year’s Day,the day after New Year’s Day,channels like Sahara Samay displayed every flimsy ‘item’ of clothing on Sambhavna,Rakhi,Minisha and Shefali as they danced to the music into the night (don’t they feel cold?). 

Alternatively,watch your misfortunes with TV soothsayers such as sleek Sunita Menon (Headlines Today) who advised Sagittarians a strict financial diet and promised Capricornians a good financial 2009. Earthquakes,floods,disease and terrorism were on the tarot cards,too. Bring back Shefali any day.   

A few other moments in the news that wasn’t: IBN-7 announced it was the first news channel to go where none had before: the exact point in the mountains where Yudhishtira washed his dog. To this day there are tiny red ants in the water bearing ant-like testimony to that visit. Isn’t there any news?

Or there was Michelle Obama wearing a sleeveless green dress,seated cross-legged to highlight a well-turned ankle,describing her first date with da man of da moment. It was chaste and blameless. Sigh. (CNN).    

That leaves yoga guru Ramdev rallying all lateral thinkers against corruption and proclaiming ‘hum sab ek hain’ (Aastha). Listening to his sermons,you get the feeling that he is after more than just the correct position of your asanas. Could it be politics? 

And yes,we have witnessed the first authentic Bollywood rain love sequence on Mohe Rang De (Colors),where the hero and the heroine made love to the rain. MTV Roadies,into a new season has twins Raghu and Rajiv heap so much abuse on young aspirants you wonder whether kids nowadays want to be whipped,not shaken.

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