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  

32 Comments

at 7:47 PM Blogger shruti said...

awesome girl ..u rock .. I seriously didnt see a single coverage or readany news abt this gr8 event ... to me they represent two equally arrogant people who probably deserve each other .. aatually I felt nauseatic the otehr day wehn i opened teh newspaper and read something like " aiswarya gets sentimental adn tocuhes abhishek's feet " ... and decided to keep away from any such news for my good health !! Has news really become this shallow and to think there was a time when we had to fight the empire and sacrifice lives to get the right to publish news !

 
at 2:42 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

True Ture True!!!! U've nailed it, as always :) We've lost perspective on what comprises news. Think even Jane Swamy understands that element better!

Am so glad u're bk frm ur 'gloomier shade of blue' phase... that sure lasted a loooong time!

-UrPublicist

 
at 1:52 PM Blogger Quicksilver! said...

Aishwariya Aunty and Abhishek Bacha’s wedding coverage was better than any comedy show.
I heard words like ‘dignified’ and ‘cultured’ and ‘khandaani’ being used for Ms Rai and I was rolling on the floor kicking my legs in the air!
And her ‘demure’ blushing-bride pics! Lol! Chalo, at least if never on screen, at least she did give her best performance off it ;)

 
at 7:56 PM Blogger Fleiger said...

Sorry for being a lurker for few days...

< shameless promotion > BTW, I want some nominations for "Mighty Sword" and "Ink Pen" awards. Please see my blog for details< /sp >

I will be back to normal mode soon.

 
at 1:41 AM Blogger that girl in pink said...

shruti, you're one lucky girl! i tried my best to avoid the wedding brouhaha, but everywhere i looked, there they were!

thank you rocket! will try and be more regular now. think m getting my mojo back. :)

quicksilver: seriously! what was with the character building?!?! i mean, who gives a shit if the bachchan bahu is dignified or a blind drunk? gaah!!

fleiger: you're not lurking! it's called browsing. :)
listen, i did go to your blog to check but couldn't quite find my way to the right link. can you give it to me?

 
at 2:45 AM Blogger crumbs said...

the best part was the media seemed so proud about the fact that they were clearly NOT wanted there!i mean i understand that journalists are supposed to tread fearlessly to places where they may not be welcome, but i always thought that it is for boring under cover operations to expose dirty politicians and such.:D
stupid me i guess

 
at 12:00 PM Blogger Reeta Skeeter said...

Well said that girl in pink! u sure know how to take their chaddies off! The latest to this whole funny media activity is that a popular news channel was giving brking news about the foreign ministry and delhi police issuing sum notice to US, UK and Canadian embassies in the trafficking case and CUT to another brking news about summons being issued to da shetty gal and arrest warrant against Richard Gere! they didnt even bother to give out the details of the earlier news! How SICK can get it?! neway u rock!
P.S.Something on HP is coming up on ma blog for the first time ever :D hopefully it shud b up today eve :)

 
at 1:32 PM Blogger Khuman Ngakpa said...

Well written ! Even I planned to post on the same line some few days back but, had to drop due to other work.Now, news channel has become another monkey business where even Cyrus Broacha and Shekhar Suman can come.A big circus.The censor board needs to review them also what is to be there rather than only trying make snips out of "Adult" rated movies.

 
at 9:12 PM Anonymous ling said...

i love your writing - so happy to see you posting again.

being a media monkey myself, it's really interesting to see certain stories blow up so big, while so many topics needing attention get phased to the backpages.

that richard gere fiasco...goodness!

 
at 1:03 AM Blogger Sue said...

You've fallen behind, girl. Now we are (or at least I am) being bombarded with sneak photos taken privately and now being circulated on the internet. I thought this woman who looked like Tuntun's daughter was Aishwarya Rai's mother -- and my mother and I actually argued over that and Googled for a pic of the lady in question.

No, we don't have lives of our own.

 
at 3:18 AM Blogger the wannabe indian punkster said...

Bwahahahahaha!

I'm upset that I wasnt there for the glorious Indian media circus.

But but, dont you want to know what color Aishwarya's toenails were?

Or how perfectly trimmed Abhishek's beard was? Really, you dont?

 
at 6:11 PM Blogger ~IRIS~ said...

Kudos gurl! It's an awesome post you got here.

I am tired of seeing everything and anything as breaking news. Duno where the media is gonna go with all this. It's not even funny to see abhishek and aishwarya's wedding getting the kind of coverage it has. The news channels are going all shameless for sure.

 
at 7:06 PM Blogger Cyberswami said...

well, if the wedding got you to write after four months of nothing whatsoever, it served its purpose, however underhandedly it may have done so...

 
at 11:42 PM Blogger shefali said...

hey pink!
nice to read you finally!
the sad bit is that the media dishes out what the readers want
toi sells space. to donkeys, monkeys etc. but continues to be the biggest national newspaper.
it even has a two floor office space in the indian express building, while indian express is reduced to a one floor operation
;(

 
at 8:57 AM Blogger that girl in pink said...

stupid us, crumbs! evidently, we've all got the definition of journalism all wrong.

reeta: it's hilarious! did you watch the ruckus they made over mandira bedi's sari this saturday night?

thanks khuman!

hey ling! the richard gere thing is actually really ridiculous. kind of embarrassing even...

sue: ha ha!! hell, who does? if we had lives, they'd be on the 9 o'clock news too! yeah, even i got some pics of the couple on an air craft. i guess their guest list wasn't all that well thought out of, after all.

hey megha! you're absolutely right! more than anything i want to know how this epitome of dignity (sic) and former most eligible bachelor of the universe will handle the everyday trials and tribulations of marriage. what percent fat milk will they buy, do they follow feng shui or vastu in their bedrooms, are they into missionary or doggie...it's all part of the "celebrities do it better" campaign.

 
at 1:17 PM Blogger Sue said...

Nah, you've fallen behind. I got some wedding pics, seemingly taken by a star-struck dude who made them all pose with him. Very funny. Will send them on, if you like.

I have a NRI cousin who is really going nuts over all this, and she sends me the pics. Just explaining, not sure why!

 
at 1:20 PM Blogger Sue said...

To hell with explanations! Here are some more: http://www.kodakgallery.com/ShareLandingSignin.jsp?Uc=19uz45f6.6vo3xe72&Uy=w0fyju&Upost_signin=Slideshow.jsp%3Fmode%3Dfromshare&Ux=0

:D

 
at 4:21 PM Blogger that girl in pink said...

hey iris, i'm telling you, if asihwarya rai broke a bangle that would constitute breaking news!

he he! you're right cyberswami! and good attitude - seeling the whole silver lining of cloud and all that. :)

hi shefali! and thanks for dropping by. TIO's b'lore/delhi etc times are abominable. every inch of that space is sold. it's awful! and the bloody rag sells...

 
at 4:28 PM Blogger that girl in pink said...

sue you horror!! i just went and pored over the entire album, and i feel awful because now i wanna bitch about public interest in the wedding and jaya bachchan's permanently sour expression!

waaah!! the fight between my inner activist and socialite is steadily being won by the latter.

anyway, i have to say, aish looked stunning on her wedding day. abhishek looks like a member of the band (i really hope the kids go on her) and seriously, who is that fat person!!?? is that tuntun?

 
at 11:55 PM Blogger Sue said...

I'm rooting for the socialite, of course. I'm a frustrated gossip columnist, I believe.

While Googling for that pic I came across an article that described the pre-wedding showdown over the saree A wd wear. Bears out my theory, Jaya Bachchan is not exactly ecstatic over sonny boy's choice.

Incidentally, don't give the bride so much credit. She copied my look more or less. When I went minimalist more than a year before her everybody was scandalised... now that she's done it, it'll be the New Look. Damn.

See the similarity for yourself:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/74442193@N00/119662518/in/set-72057594093287213/

 
at 12:16 AM Blogger Sue said...

A real troublemaker, arencha?

Mind you, I'm tempted. I've always held there isn't much difference between Aishwarya Rai and Ayesha Roy (that's me) bar a few letters.

 
at 3:47 PM Blogger Kusum Rohra said...

HA! I have exclusive pichaars of the wedding forwarded to me by some 17 people.

Today afternoon I was on the phone with a friend who suddenly broke into loud laughter, later he tells me on IBN 7 there is a breaking news titled "Maare gaye sasurji." wherein a 55 year old guy was being beaten up by a bunch of women for indecent behaviour!

I am shocked and hurt these news channels still have never covered me commenting from office! Maybe I will call for a press conference.

 
at 3:26 PM Blogger Grey Shades said...

Ah that acerbic humor! Manna for the brain! :)

 
at 6:18 AM Blogger Fleiger said...

Sorry... didn't see your comment for some time. Here's the link:

http://randamthots.blogspot.com/2007/04/rush-your-entries.html

You can also get the link in the countdown on the top of right column on my blogs :D Waiting for your entries.

 
at 2:46 PM Blogger The Dude said...

You know, just thinking that these idiots (and I use the term loosely and politely!) are the ones telling us whats what gives me nightmares!
We have turned into a planet of zombie morons living to keep up with joneses that dont exist except on some crap shoot of a show on television somewhere...

As far as the 'wedding' goes, Ive just stopped watching tv since it was announced and I skip the first 3 pages of my newspaper, its embarrasing!

 
at 11:18 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oye! when's the next post coming up?

-UrPublicist

 
at 11:50 PM Blogger Spunky Monkey said...

Whoa, this blog is a damn good read.
Breezy it is.
Keep the good work going!

 
at 9:12 AM Blogger freespirit said...

LOL! U know i wasn't even in India and I still managed to catch evey last detail of the 'wedding of the century' because TV channels in Malaysia were showing it as part of news and the internet is filled with it and whatever I click, it was somehow related to the wedding! Unbelievable...!

 
at 3:18 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

When's the next post coming up?

Dnt like these long silent spells :(

-UrPublicist

 
at 6:19 PM Blogger that girl in pink said...

kusum: LOL on the "exclusive" pics!

grey shades: :)

fleiger: is it too late to vote? *blush*

hey dude! the wedding finishes and the honeymoon begins. and then cannes...it's never gonna stop, i tel you!

thank you spunky!

hey freespirit! the fame of the bachchana reaches malaysia... did you catch ash at cannes talking about abhishek, the love of her life? barf!

publicist!: all your hounding worked! :)

 
at 12:22 PM Blogger Shubhojit said...

Thankfully CNBC spared me the wedding of the century. & ESPN, STAR Sports and HBO and all also did not disappoint. How unlucky of me to have missed the wedding of the century. sob sob.

 
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