Tag Archives: Barkha
Mumbai. 06 May 2010.
More than a billion people, including Arnab Goswami and Sagarika Ghose, went in a shocked silence of more than 20-seconds as Suhel Seth confessed that he “frankly” had “no comments” on the Kasab verdict in 26/11 trial that ended yesterday.The interviewer Rajdeep Sardesai, at the other end of the phone line at that moment, initially blamed the dropped-bombshell to ‘some disturbance in our phone connection’ and asked the question again. But to Rajdeep’s, and the milling Indian masses’ utter discomfort, he repeated “No comments” and cut the line.
Though most of the Indian news channels are still in denial over this unexpected development, Times Now calling it “a passing phase” and NDTV’s Barkha Dutt claiming “Suhel will be present in the studio on the weekend discussion discussing Suhel’s absence”, some seem to have come to terms with this “loss”. A prominent business channel with a multiple of 9 in its name featured a half-hour ‘Suhel in the studio’ (SITS) special, recounting his best moments in newsroom discussions. SITS producer Vikram Randhawa said “He was a tiger (in newsrooms). I hope he has something to say about something soon.”
The common man, though, is less forgiving. Saurov Dey, an executive with an international bank in Delhi and an avid media-watcher, said: “How could he do this to us? He could have just repeated what he famously said about Jessica case, Save the Tiger campaign, Mumbai traffic woes, Malgudi days, Bra color on Facebook, and French food: “I think it has something for everyone.” I hate him now.”
Meanwhile, public prosecutor in Kasab case, Ujjwal Nikam, has been selected as the first celebrity participant for the coming season’s Bigg Boss, owing to his charisma, achievement, and love for drama.
25 November 2009. Mumbai.
Barkha Dutt looks into the calm sea at Marine Drive, her eyes welling up with memories of a day she launched into the biggest shrill-assault on the unsuspecting Indian viewers across the nation. “I won’t take full credit for it. It was an accumulated skill, a ‘being at right ground-zero, at the right time, with the right hoarseness’ moment”, she says modestly while still avoiding a direct eye-contact.
Arnab Goswami, Barkha’s counterpart at Times Now, is more forthcoming. “I was in the studio and my job was tougher. We already had a few reporters on the streets – screaming, babbling, showing ‘exclusive’ footage in a loop, and my job was to tie the loose ends with an equally incomprehensible narration. It was a watershed moment. And as I said, we had ‘exclusive’ footage. I mean ‘exclusive footage’.”
It’s courageous stories like Arnab’s and Barkha’s that make 26th November 2009, the first anniversary of Mumbai attacks, a day to commemorate the spirit of Indian News TV. Never before a wholly complex system of (Papua New Guinea launched) satellites, OB vans, confused mike-holders, and wide-eyed studio presenters was put in such a grave danger of being toppled by the bigness of an event.
“It was BIG. INDIA was ATTACKED”, reveals Rajdeep Sardesai, wearing his trademark silk kurta and white pajamas to show his solidarity with the nation.”We were being tested,” he continues in his calculated style, “and we had to show that we are no flukes, or derivatives of some other channel. Let’s be frank – it was a shrill event, and we were forced to shout. But we are proud of the way we did it.”
Amidst all these candid recounts, one man still remains guarded. Rajat Sharma, whose niche channel India TV was the only one to get an exclusive interview with one of the terrorists of 26/11, maintains his dignity a year later too. “We have the blessings of Sri Sri Bhabhoot Baba – our in-house future teller as well as health show host,” starts Sharma, almost in a trance. “He helped us get a ‘spiritual connection’ to one of the terrorists. But I am sorry, I can’t reveal more. Journalistic integrity doesn’t allow me”, Sharma trails off. But just when one thinks that he is done, he adds, with a rare smile – “We were different that day.”