Goodbye to all that

George Bush is ready for his close up on CNN,and Indian news is hot and bothered about ‘Slumdog Millionaire’

Written by Shailaja Bajpai | Published:January 20, 2009 2:08 am

There were plenty of agitators on television last week. Leading them was President-till- Tuesday,George Bush. At his last press conference,in his concluding address from the White House and seated alongside Laura on Larry King Live,PUSA (President of the United States of America) was all fire and brimstone and seemingly afflicted by a series of facial tics as he ticked off those who had criticised him. He boasted of his victories,warned of imminent terrorist attacks on the homeland,expressed disappointment with his detractors’ language,hoped the ‘tone’ would be different for Obama and was pleased to announce that even in the nation’s darkest hour,he’d also had ‘fun’. In effect,he was writing his own epitaph as president,one that read,as a CNN commentator put it,thus: ‘I was not always right but I was never wrong”. 

CNN’s coverage of the transition from Bush to Obama has been colourful,lively and thoughtful,like much of its content nowadays. For instance,Anderson Cooper 360 offers a news variety show with all the above qualities,every morning.  

Slumdog Millionaire agitated Arnab Goswami and Suhel Seth over its Golden Globe awards (Times Now) and Hindi news channels too,but their agitation had more to do with Amitabh Bachchan’s agitation over Mumbai’s depiction. That soon gave way to agitated condemnations of ICC’s temerity in ignoring Sachin Tendulkar as one of the greatest cricket players ever,Akshay Kumar offering his Star-Screen Actor award to Aamir Khan and Priya Dutt’s dismay at Sanju being the Samajwadi Party candidate from Lucknow. News 24 read her anatomy more than her words: it was clear from her body language,it said,that she is angry with Sanjay,that she (and her sister!) have never accepted his wife Manyata as their sister-in-law.  

News channels were divided over whether they should celebrate Slumdog Mumbai or revile Danny Boyle for sullying its image (ahem). Celebration won out perhaps because A R Rahman was a winner too. TV discussed whether we are like that only or does the West deliberately portray us like that only — without stopping to take a long,hard look at itself:  the news is only agitated over the Sensex,terrorism,Tendulkar & Co,not the lives of the poor,deprived,under-privileged or exploited. Is there even one drama series about any of them? You don’t need a shantytown crorepati to answer that one: no.  

Speaking of crorepatis,the news was in a delightful agitation over Aamir Khan’s Ghajini breaking box office records with a Rs 200 crore receipt (according to whom?). Aamir was shown rewarding those who had helped the film succeed with an imprint of his hand. Surely a handshake would have sufficed? 

And apropos nothing,Zee News celebrated Priyanka Vadra’s birthday with a special programme,Virasat ki beti. This was Gandhi darshan with Indira (Gandhi) gazing thrown in for good measure. Question: will the birthday of each member of the Gandhi family be commemorated with a birthday special? 

And why is Travel & Living telecasting Nigella’s Christmas Kitchen in January,a good 11 months before 25 December?

Meanwhile,MTV Roadies is practising slamdog. From what we saw,when a female contestant gave the wrong answer to a question,one of the male contestants bent forward like a weightlifter and was unceremoniously slammed between the legs with a wooden paddle so that he collapsed clutching you-know-what. What kind of pleasure does a viewer get from watching this? 

Lastly,just in case you missed each and every promo on the news channels,remember to stay up tonight for Obama’s ‘live’ inauguration. See you there.

shailaja.bajpai@expressindia.com

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