Who made news, how and why?
If you were to ask who hogged the limelight the most in recent times and what caused maximum speculation, the answer is ‘Ash’. It was almost as if the entire nation was pacing up and down, along with Abhishek, outside Aiswarya Rai’s labour room.
What was heartening about the entire episode, which culminated in a happy ending, was that, in spite of the reams of newsprint and hours of air time spent on the subject, the media on the whole exercised caution and imposed certain restrictions on itself. They did not send paparazzi to the hospital to exlusive photos but waited for the official word, which often came in the form of a tweet from Big B. The tabloids and magazines went on reprinting the same photograph of Ash, all covered and puffed up.
There was one moment in the run-up to the Ash delivery when it seemed that the media would go overboard; when the magic figure of 11-11-11 was round the corner, speculative reports appeared that since the Bachchan parivar had booked the hospital room, the plan might be to get the baby out on that magic hour by Cesarian section. Future events showed that these reports were nothing other than the result of rich imagination.
After the baby girl was born, there was high-voltage coverage and understandably so. But one trend that emerged was how media is now increasingly dependent on celebrities’ tweets. Instead of taking the trouble of faxing press releases to newspaper offices, they now simply tweet and the media immediately pick it up from there.
Vijay Mallya was another celebrity who took to Twitter to clarify his position after he came under fire from armchair critics of the television world for seeking a bailout from the government. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh didn’t find the request absurd and agreed to talk to the minister concerned. “Crony capitalism,” screamed one of the commentators who took part in a television discussion.
It was definitely a juicy story for the media, especially the electronic one; the ‘King of good times’ going to the government and the banks with a begging bowl. They resorted to a thousand puns on how the King had fallen on bad times and how the Kingfisher was flying low, so on and so forth. An airline company struggling to survive is definitely an important story but what made it a hot story was the fact that the company belonged to a successful, flamboyant and high-flying liquor baron.
Azharuddin rubbishing Vinod Kambli’s charges that a match may have been fixed was picked up both by the channels and newspapers, even though there was hardly any surprise element in either the allegation or the rebuttal. You are talking about a man who was banned from playing and shunned from the commentary boxes. The former captain had simply waited for public memory to fade, got the biggest political party to make him an MP and managed to earn back his celeb halo. When fresh charges were made, Azhar reacted by calling Kambli names and the media lapped it all up.
Centuries and even victories hardly make it to the front pages these days. People, even inIndia, are showing signs of viewer fatigue. Not many turned up the ongoing Test series and slowly they will get tired of the one-dayers too. But yes, if a player gets married or some new muck is raked up, it will become the subject of hot debate.
In Kerala, the routine political debates and the court-bashing apart, nobody really did anything to dominate the news world, not since the young MP famously cried in front of the cameras. Oh yes, Yesudas reached a milestone by singing for half a century but then there was hardly anything new to report. People already know every little detail about the great singer’s life and the interviews on TV and the write-ups in the newspapers contributed little to enlighten people any further.
Yesudas has agreed to appear in the episodes of the Idea Star Singer programme, which is facing a tough challenge from Mazhavil Manorama’s similar music reality show. No doubt, the participants show a high degree of professionalism and sing well but the programmes are no longer about the competiton. It is the judges who are peforming better than the contestants.
At the national level, Big Boss in Colours continues to have a good viewership but the current edition must rank as one of the least interesting they have put out so far. The people behind the show seem to be running out of ideas and it is not clear what the entry and exit of Swami Agnivesh, for instance, achieved.
Oh yes, there was one person who made news in Kerala and how! Santosh Pandit, the one army behind the movie Krishnanum Radhayum, was the subject of discussion in the print media, television and blogs. The film, according to some who flocked to the theaters in the first few weeks, is a lesson on how not to make a film. Pandit is dead serious in his endeavors but a section of the public finds it hilarious.
There are many gifted comedians who keep a straight face and make people laugh. But they are acting and actually laughing at themselves. Pandit, on the other hand, is causing some unintended laughter, it seems. But can we say about the psyche of those who are ready to pay to watch a film that they are damn certain is of low aesthetic value? Isn’t it a sadistic kind of pleasure?