The deafening echo of voices bombarded the ears. It had a most pleasing ring to it: This wasn’t the 9.00 pm contest between news anchors and guests in the sound-barrier-breaking competition, but the joyous, “India! India! India!”
No, it wasn’t the loud “India First” “nationalism” drummed up on many news channels over the last three years: These were the real patriot games as Indian athletes and players came first, taking the Gold Coast literally at its name, winning 12 gilded medals as of Wednesday morning.
Ah, the Commonwealth Games. It’s been a real treat for those who don’t watch cricket. Those who watch only cricket are glued to the IPL. To have watched Manika Batra all over the table tennis table to help India win gold in the team event was a genuine moment of chest-puffing pride. Nothing fake about it.
The Indian commentary and studio anchors have been as uneven as some of the performances. Mercifully, gone are the days when a commentator on Doordarshan memorably described a male swimmer as the “best breast-stroker”. Now, we are more sophisticated and circumspect. However, during several boxing bouts involving Indians, for instance, Luvlina, the commentators talked of everything — Mary Kom, Assam — but the bout for most of the 10 minutes.
As for the studio previews and analysis, without naming or shaming, any viewer half interested in sports could have done as well, if not better: Who cannot say, you need “taakat” to be a weightlifter?
IPL: The Hindi film blockbuster of cricket is back, this time on Star Sports, minus cheerleaders in the studio but swooshing merrily on the pitch sidelines — and all the usual suspects in the commentary box. The superlatives continue to roll off tongues as fast as Billings or Russell could roll off the fours and sixes (Tuesday). Some unusual games are being played off the field but let’s keep that for next week. By the way, Doordarshan is showing IPL highlights — why?
Spare a thought for India’s exploits at the Davis Cup. Trailing China 2-0 on day one, we fought back to win 3-2, that too in temperatures so low, you’re sure to catch cold — why, our teeth were chattering simply watching the heroics of Paes and Bopanna (Neo Sports).
Back to the news: While Amit Shah was preoccupied with “snakes”, “mongoose” (mongoose?), “cats” and “dogs” on Friday — his trepidations widely shared with viewers on TV news — the prime minister returned to Champaran to exhort his audience of sanitation workers — and viewers — on the need for toilet-training and cleanliness. Now, if only these could eliminate the said reptiles and other beasts troubling his party president. Recommend Masterstroke with Punya Prasun Bajpai (ABP): Had a wonderful piece on Champaran.
Meanwhile, Mirror Now, on Tuesday evening, stationed itself outside the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Chennai, where protesters had threatened to invade the cricket pitch with yes, snakes — what is it with snakes this week? At the same time, Zakka Jacob found an irritant in the mosquitoes on an Indigo flight which led to a passenger to be offloaded — well, at least he didn’t get bitten (CNN News 18).
And then there was one particular representative of the human species who bothered TV reporters and anchors across channels: “Arrest BJP MLA” from Unnao, they chorused after the father of a minor girl who had accused MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar of rape, died in police custody. But as of Wednesday morning, he hasn’t been arrested — this despite the universal condemnation on news channels — a sobering reflection on the power of the electronic media and those channels which presume to speak on behalf of the nation. Navika Kumar did everything at her command to shame Sengar but he had the temerity to ignore the “No.1 English News Channel”, remove the TV mike and leisurely speak on his mobile — all on live TV. Sengar generously gave out interviews to news channels and each one exposed his arrogance.
All news channels chewed out the Congress, after photos appeared of members feasting on chhola bhatura before fasting, like it was their last supper. Tasty? Perhaps, but not an appetising sight.
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