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Cinema has often flirted with the topic of journalism,with Page 3 reporters and others wearing activism (Guru) and sensationalism (A Wednesday) on their sleeve.

Written by Dipanita Nath |
March 9, 2009 1:34:19 am

Delhi’s campus theatre reports on media

Cinema has often flirted with the topic of journalism,with Page 3 reporters and others wearing activism (Guru) and sensationalism (A Wednesday) on their sleeve. In the past few months,Delhi’s campus theatre turned a critical eye to news gatherers,while in late March,Yatrik,one of the city’s prominent theatre groups,will stage Breaking News — the name itself a dead giveaway on all that’s wrong with 24×7 news.

“Seventy per cent of our country is agrarian,glamour makes up only 30 per cent. Yet,the media stresses 70 per cent on glamour and 30 per cent on real issues,” says Priyanka Sharma,a final-year BSc student of Maitreyee College and co-director of the play Kollage: 70:30/20:30. “20:30 stands for 8.30 pm,the prime-time television slot. Once you understand the numbers,the name doesn’t sound weird anymore. What’s weird is that we see more anorexic models on TV than starving farmers.”

The electronic media seems to the favourite whipping boy for chasing TRPs with a hunger that doesn’t differentiate between news and trivia. Most of the plays attacking the media were born after 26/11 when,as Aparajita Bharti of CBS says,“prominent channels were busy congratulating themselves for exclusive stories even at the height of a crisis”.

A scene in Tu Gir Gaya Toh Kya,a play by the College of Business Studies,shows a reporter at a stall where two monkeys called Saif and Kareena are performing “Bandaro Ka Natak,today’s main news”. Venkateshwara College’s Ki Farak Painda Hai sends a clutch of huffing and puffing mediapersons to interview two bombs. “The bomb scene was a device to show how the media always creates hype. They might even discover a way to speak to two inanimate bombs,” says Ankit Luthra,a final-year B.Com student,about the spoof scene.

There are,however,no references to real channels or reporters. Kollage talks of a fictional NTV,while Khalsa College’s play Aaj Bhi Kal Ke Jaisa Kyun Hain takes on crime-based talkshows as one of the social evils but the only recognisable characters are politicians Narendra Modi and LK Advani.

While the campus plays have raked in awards at various festivals,director Avijit Dutt of Yatrik knows that his satirical take on the media will earn him few friends. “I think it is better than my post-1993 play Bombay-Bosnia,which was banned in Mumbai but was a hit in north India.” Breaking News combines politics with reality shows and revolves around a leader who vows to spend time in his constituency without political trappings or amenities like cell phones. “He can’t do it and disappears. Thus begins a media circus as TV hosts and reporters chase eyeballs by manufacturing clues about the ‘Disappearance’. The nation is hooked and they want to milk it for what it’s worth,” says Dutt. The play unfolds on a chessboard stage,and includes live mixing “so that the audience can see how news is jazzed up for better consumption,” says Dutt.

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