Death By Media

The media is like a tennis racquet because it wields so much power with other people’s lives as tennis balls.  It is a story line Mumbai producers share with their Hollywood counter parts, including the media scrum scene with twenty or so cameras.

Amol Arte, played by Abhishek Bachchan is his father’s (Paresh Rawal) only begotten son in the film Paa. His father is very wealthy so Amol never felt the need to be corrupt, something that irks his rivals.  One of them buys reporters to spoil his name.

He flips the media’s script when he sends the masses to homes of reporters who always side with ‘the people’ against the government. The reporters are furious and one of them is caught in a delicate situation, sleeping soundly with a bottle of whisky on a side table.

Amol wields the racquet in this television scene when he pounds reporters with a taste of their own medicine i.e. inciting ordinary citizens with half-baked reporting and endangering the life of a ‘political citizen of this country’ as he puts it. While his performance as Auro’s father is jerky, this particular scene is profound. Vintage Abhishek!  It brought back memories of the film Guru.

Paa was just the semi-finals. The final match played by politicians and reporters was in full spotlight in Rann, directed Ram Gopal Varma.

Much as I love his signature half-moon close-up shots, tear drop lighting and unconventional camera angles reminiscent of Orson Wells, music in a Ram Gopal Varma film is injurious to my health.  No, make it ears. Cinema music is generally loud, but he is the master of decibels.

In the film Rann, Amitabh Bachchan is Vijay Malik, the owner of India 24/7 and Ritesh Deshmukh is Purab, the young reporter who idolises him.

The issue in Rann is not that Malik’s son Jai (Sudeep) is in the pocket of that vicious politician Mohan Pandey played by Paresh Rawal. Malik just wants to get paid, if I can borrow the expression from African Americans.

His father is the beacon of journalism subjectivity, which attracts young reporters like Purab, but Jai has bills to play and therefore has to beat Amrish Kakkar (Mohnish Bell) in television ratings.

Journalism school taught me that the media was objective.  It hid the most exciting part, that producers and reporters are imperfect like the rest of us.

They vote Republican or Democratic.  They belong to European fascist organizations and the National Front.  They think black people are inferior.  They condone wife abuse. They don’t like same sex love.

Sure. They have a right to their beliefs, but where does that leave the assertion that they are objective?




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