Monday, July 02, 2007

Much ado about nothing...

"SMS us on XXXX and tell us why you think the snake is after the little boy."

"SMS us on XXXX and tell us what you feel about the marriage of Abhishek and Aishwarya."

"Call us on 011-XXXXXXXX and tell us what you feel about the Bipasha - John split."

"Call us on 022-XXXXXXXX and tell us how should the government react to the Richard Gere and Shilpa Shetty kissing episode."

Many a times, I am bewildered by these kinds of announcements on the news channels, especially the Hindi news channels. Star News, Zee News, Aaj Tak, IBN 7, Janmat, India TV all these news channels deserve to be in the Guinness book for dishing out nonsense in the name of news. Every news is supposed to be 'exclusive' and every news is supposed to be 'sansanikhez' too. Crap! The most hilarious thing is that viewers actually call back and text their 'valuable' views and comments on all such ridiculous topics and questions.

Some news anchors are not only irritating but they also have the habit of repeating things over and over again until it almost sounds like they are memorizing something before an exam. There's this fella on Aaj Tak viz Deepak Chaurasia. He is like the self proclaimed messiah of the masses. He has taken the responsibility of bringing such 'sansanikhez' news items from nowhere to shock the masses. I feel like slapping that guy whenever I see him. I remember that just after the Abhi-Ash engagement was announced, this lunatic was hosting a special show on Aishwarya Rai's future. Javed Akhtar was called up and quite appropriately Mr. Akhtar was furious at the ludicrous nature of the question. He refused to comment and banged the phone down. On some other channels astrologers were called in to speculate and predict on their future married life. Why? All in the name of publicity? Why in heaven's name should we care? Why should we know about how or when Ms. Rai will quit films or will have babies?

And then there are these crime related programmes! 'Sansani', 'Crime Reporter' and the like. Their anchors are straight out of asylums. They have a typical style of presenting the programmes. They speak in a very weird way. "Chain se sona hai toh abb jaag jao". It's funny like hell. More often than being scared by the criminals they show on their shows, you are actually scared by the anchors themselves. I remember the ace comedian Raju Shrivastav mocking them in one of his shows. It was hilarious.

Anyway, the bottom line is that much of the news shown on television is like the Shakespearean classic "Much ado about nothing." They invent news to gain TRP's. They blow small incidents out of proportion like the incident about Richard Gere kissing Shilpa Shetty. All the channels continued to show the incident over and over again until it snowballed into a controversy. Then they started showing people (VHP, Bajrang Dal types) burning effigies of Richard Gere. And then when they realized that the situation had gone out of control, they showed Shilpa making a statement over the issue. Shilpa was visibly miffed by all the hullabaloo. She accused the media of blowing such trivial issues out or proportion. And I guess she was right.

Indian media needs to grow up. Enough of monkeying around in the name of freedom of expression. We don't need such atrocious news. Show us something good, something which is useful to the society, something that brings forth issues of geo-political importance. See BBC. See CNN. Closer home, see the English news channels like NDTV or CNN-IBN. These channels are much more mature in their content and their presentation. I hate to have to say it but I very genuinely feel that Hindi news channels are still in their infancy. They ought to grow up soon enough.