Disaster frames

And some bad-tempered television over a sting operation.

Written by Shailaja Bajpai | Published: September 11, 2014 12:12 am
Intrepid cameramen and women captured the human predicament and geographical devastation in the time of floods. We saw people look heavenwards, perhaps for solace. Intrepid cameramen and women captured the human predicament and geographical devastation in the time of floods. We saw people look heavenwards, perhaps for solace.

And some bad-tempered television over a sting operation.

A national disaster” received nationwide coverage, not least on the Hindi and English TV news channels, especially after the prime minister visited Jammu and Kashmir, Sunday and saw the damage for himself from an aerial survey. Thereafter, news channels followed his example: they clambered aboard helicopters and recorded the distressing condition of people stranded everywhere.

Intrepid cameramen and women captured the human predicament and geographical devastation in the time of floods. We saw people look heavenwards, perhaps for solace. Instead, they received water bottles and other essential supplies, hurled down to them from whirring helicopters. The packages thudded to the ground, their contents scattered while desperate people scampered after them. Visuals of rivers in destructive spate reminded us of the tragedies in Uttarakhand last summer (News Nation).

“Words cannot describe the scenes,” said the ABP reporter, who proceeded to describe the scene before him. “There are people sitting on rooftops waiting to be rescued,” he added, but try as we might to magnify our eyeballs, we could not spot a human being on a rooftop.

Reporters and camerapeople from most news channels waded in where ordinary people feared to tread. The IndiaTV man-on-the spot was often waist-high in water in Srinagar; NDTV’s correspondent was at Saida Kadal watching Dal Lake rise dangerously. Times Now’s Shamsher travelled on board the Mi-17 as it surveyed the submerged terrain and looked as though he might join the packages flying out of the open helicopter doors.

The other big news of Monday was the sting operation on senior Delhi BJP leaders allegedly offering a bribe to an AAP MLA. Most channels had a discussion on the video’s content, which nobody could verify. The discussion on Times Now reached a new high on decibel count and an all-time low in etiquette as anchor Arnab Goswami, frothing at the mouth, scolded a BJP guest speaker in an insulting exchange of words: “You will not… you will not… you will not…” he declaimed time and again. He then ordered him to stop the “jibber-jabber”. Surely a mere sting operation should not lead to such bad-tempered television?

India News was very good-humoured about a crowded tempo that overturned in Hyderabad. After showing us the visuals of the accident half a dozen times, it reflected on the great escape of the passengers, who were injured but alive, during a Ganpati immersion: luckily, policemen were present at the venue of the incident and an ambulance appeared from seemingly nowhere almost immediately. This is the doing of Ganpati, claimed the anchor, adding more conscientiously that so people believed. Ahem.

The Anupam Kher Show (Colors) is a talk show we believed should be good fun given Kher’s lively personality. However, the most exciting element it possesses is the backdrop, which looks like the titling of The Godfather. On Sunday, Kher hosted actress Parineeti Chopra, also an effervescent character. But the encounter did not go pop. It was relatively straightforward, as though Kher had restrained himself — perhaps it’s all those blazers and waistcoats he wears that straitjacket him.

Look Who’s Talking with Niranjan Iyengar (Zee Café) is all about the looking. Iyengar, lyricist and scriptwriter, spends most of his interviews with Bollywood stars like Alia Bhatt staring at them from across a table, that too in profile. Nothing wrong with that, except it does distract from the conversation. Not that the latter was scintillating. If you do a talk show with Bollywood in English, then you must offer something different or better than Koffee with Karan (Star World). The Anupam Kher Show and Look Who’s Talking need to find that certain “something”.

Something the prime minister chooses to do is to do his own talking. He is his best spokesperson. And he likes to do just that — speak directly to the people, or the media. Hence the interaction with children on Teachers’ Day last Friday; hence his detailed briefing to the media during his visit to J&K. Announcing relief measures offered by the Central government is usually done by the relevant ministers. But Narendra Modi chose to do it himself. Thus far into the NDA’s tenure, we would be hard to put any face to the government but the PM’s.


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More From Shailaja Bajpai
  1. A
    Aug 21, 2014 at 2:26 pm
    The writer is a self proclaimed intellectual type socialist/communist type . I know it all. No head or tell of this article.
    1. D
      Aug 21, 2014 at 2:15 pm
      So, are you suggesting that anything to do with Hinduism and its observances are toxic - even radioactive - and news channels should shun coverage? Perhaps, the ISIS claiming religious sanction while beheading a non-combatant makes for makes pleasant news? Religion and gore, great television.
      1. G
        Sep 13, 2014 at 9:34 am
        eyeballs can be used to magnify, not the other way round.
        1. Kuldeep Saxena
          Sep 11, 2014 at 2:01 pm
          There are problems though our home minister and Prime Miniter were the first to take the Arial view of the situation. But I fail to understand how the journalists from various TV channels are authorized to take a ride on IAF helicopter. Specially talking about the NDTV, specially Barkha Dutt and others is it a joy ride or they are on chartered plan and at whose cost. But certainly, I am of the opinion that there is a violation of law as how can they have access to IAF Helicopter would it not be Okay if violation is noted and action is taken to void such occurrences.
          1. M
            Aug 21, 2014 at 9:58 am
            What did i just read....3-4 minutes of my life wasted.
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