name: that girl in pink
location: Somewhere, India
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Monday, April 23, 2007

what Right to Information really means

It’s a happy day for anyone who ever had a bone to pick with the media. Anyone ever stung by an undercover operation, caught taking a bribe on camera, allegedly accused of amoral activities, caught kissing a member of the opposite sex; anyone whose 15 minutes turned out to be more infamous than otherwise intended.

The Indian media has had a strange sort of evolution. After years of getting our news from Doordarshan newsreaders (remember the lady with the rose in her hair?), who actually read from sheets on their desk, days after the event had occurred, things changed overnight when cable TV entered our homes. Suddenly there were 4 news channels to every 1 newsworthy event, school children started to be recruited as correspondents and ‘everything’ was renamed ‘breaking news’.

Then one day it occurred to some highly educated smartie to capitalise on the whole saas-bahu soap opera craze that was sweeping the nation so news was now married to celebrity and watching a news channel became a one-stop entertainment stop. Politics. Check. Money woes. Check. Storms and dry spells. Check. Marriages, divorces, extra marital affairs, legitimate relationships, children, their weddings, their divorces… so on and so forth. CHECK CHECK CHECK.

As high drama entered our lives in the form of a ticker at the bottom of the screen, some people began raising some tentative questions; “Saif’s chest pains…news? Really?”

“Oh, you better believe its news!!” hollered back the media, “people want to know what’s happening with their heroes and reporting it is our job. People have a right to know. And people watch this stuff alright? It’s what the people want. It’s all about loving the people, OK?!”

Evidently, we the people had asked for it and so we’d better just shut the fuck up and watch what we wanted. Ungrateful wretches that we are. Grumble grumble.

Well, we did shut the fuck up and watched the endless shit we had personally written to channel heads and asked for. I clearly couldn’t get through another day without making sure that Shakti Kapoor got caught on camera as he propositioned a young woman. My cook refused to chop another onion until she’d watched Shilpa Shetty cry in the Big Brother house at least 25 times on the same channel on the same day. My dhobi lodged in his protest against Mallika Sherawat’s New Year outfit by refusing to iron mine.

But all this was child’s play as compared to the news story all of India had waited for since Independence. I swear, if Mahatma Gandhi were alive today he’d have announced a fast unto death to ensure that every citizen of the country got live streaming images of the story as it unfolded. This was beyond important. This was history in the making.

I’m referring, of course, to the Wedding of the Century: the holy union that’s made me realise just how inconsequential my own marriage is in comparison.

Aishwarya Rai weds Abhishek Bachchan and everyone else, please go fuck yourself.

The news channels instructed us that this was a wedding we could not ignore. No reason was given for the same but that’s what they told us and they must know what they’re talking about. They are after all the premier news channels of the country, with award winning reporters and shows and tie ups with international news agencies. These were not small tabloids that openly thrived on sensationalism and shallowness but responsible entities that echoed the voice of the people.

So right after the families of the betrothed requested the media to please give them some space to celebrate this very private event, the media went right ahead and did the opposite. And thus began the event titled, The Great Media Circus. Showcasing asses, monkeys, clowns and buffoons. Come one, come all, entry is free and entertainment is guaranteed.

And entertaining it was. Ha ha! Honestly, such things cannot be scripted. Who would ever thinking of getting a shrieking female reporter to climb a tree outside Aishwarya Rai’s residence to peek in and report on…I’m not sure what…live in front of a camera?
Or how about the other reporter who decided to run really fast down the road in the hope of crashing through the convoy of highly trained guards and solid metal gate and into one of the wedding functions?
Oh oh oh and let’s not forget the Abhishek Bachchan look-alike who was put in a fancy car and driven to his supposed fiancée’s residence. I suppose they figured Aishwarya’s family wouldn’t notice and get their daughter married to just any tallish guy with a beard.
There was also the usual flirting with guards, buttering up the band-walas, interviewing the bhangra dancers and making a complete ass of yourself that goes on when you’re reporting earth-shattering news.

The best part? All this tom foolery and stripping of one’s own dignity was diligently filmed and shown on television for the entire country to titter over. The irony is just too good! A channel puts time, money and manpower to pull its own chaddies off in public!! I’m telling you, these things just cannot be scripted!

Posted by that girl in pink  | 4:25 PM  |  32 comments  

Monday, April 09, 2007

A gloomier shade of blue

You know it's been too long since you wrote when the blogger homepage has changed and accessing your own blog takes you a few minutes.

But what do you do when you haven't had one original or interesting thought in four months? It's not like there isn't enough happening in the world to write about. Since the last time I wrote seasons have changed, AB and AR have found love, the Indian cricket team has gone and returned from the Caribbean, the aliens landed and forgot Sanjaya Malakar behind, Anjelina Jolie has adopted her 34th child and I've changed my brand of moisturiser. So much fodder and not a single remark comes out of me. Can you imagine the agony?

I may as well accept it at then. At the not-quite-tender age of 28 my brain has completely dried up.

Tis most depressing.

Posted by that girl in pink  | 2:10 AM  |  22 comments