Updated: December 5, 2021 12:43:30 pm
A pioneer of Hindi television journalism, with interests ranging from politics, culture to food, Padma Shri awardee Vinod Dua died at the Apollo Hospital Saturday. He was 67. Dua was hospitalised with Covid earlier this year along with his wife Padmavati ‘Chinna’ Dua who died on June 11. His health had been consistently deteriorating since then.
Dua’s death was announced by his younger daughter, actor-comic Mallika Dua, on Instagram. The couple was also parents to their elder daughter Bakul Dua, a clinical psychologist.
“Our irreverent, fearless and extraordinary father, Vinod Dua has passed away. He lived an inimitable life, rising from the refugee colonies of Delhi to the peak of journalistic excellence for over 42 years, always, always speaking truth to power. He is now with our mom, his beloved wife Chinna in heaven where they will continue to sing, cook, travel and drive each other up the wall. The cremation will take place tomorrow (5.12.21) at Lodhi crematorium at 12 noon,” she wrote around 5 pm.
In another post, Mallika referenced the sedition case lodged against Dua by a BJP leader which was quashed by the Supreme Court in June this year. “The most courageous, irreverent, compassionate and funny man I know. What a guy. An ordinary boy born in Nabi Karim who took on the high and mighty and won, till the end. Padmashree Vinod Dua. Even at your weakest, you gave Indian Journalism a landmark judgment. No journalist will be randomly slapped with a sedition case because Vinod Dua fought that fight for them, as he always has,” she wrote.
Coming from a family of Saraiki Hindus, Dua was born and brought up in Old Delhi. He completed his graduation in English from Hansraj College, and his MA also in English from DU. Before entering the world of journalism, Dua was active in the theatre circles of Delhi.
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His foray into journalism began with Doordarshan, where he was part of several shows including Yuva Manch, Yuv Jan, Jawan Tarang, and Aap Ke Liye. In the 1980s, Dua along with NDTV Co-founder Prannoy Roy started election analysis on Doordarshan — giving him his first major brush with fame.
On Saturday, Roy took to Twitter to pay tribute to Dua, who he said was “the greatest of his time”.
“Deeply mourning the loss of Vinod. He was not just one of the greatest, he was THE greatest of his time. I have always said that. THE greatest. An amazing talent I admired and respected-and from whom I learnt a lot in the many years we worked closely together. Rest in peace my friend,” he wrote.
He later anchored Janvani, which gave the public an opportunity to question ministers, and later moved to the India Today group in the late 1980s. He was also associated with Zee TV and Sahara TV at different points in his career.
Over the years, Dua came to be associated with almost effortless news reading, combined with sharp wit and insights. Om Thanvi, former editor of Jansatta, says Dua never scripted his shows.
“Few people would know that Vinod never used to prepare the script of his programs. Neither did he refer to the teleprompter. Bold, straight. He was very frank. Sometimes he was bitter, but mostly he had an easygoing attitude towards life,” he wrote in a Facebook post. Thanvi also said Dua was equally at ease in both English and Hindi.
At NDTV India, Dua added another feather to his cap as the host of the very popular show, Zaika India Ka, for which he travelled to different parts of the country, tasting the local food. His catchphrase, ‘bohot umda (very nice)’, to describe all the delicacies he tasted, became a common term in every Indian household.
After his stint with broadcast journalism ended, Dua entered the realm of digital journalism when he joined The Wire Hindi, hosting the show Jan Gan Man Ki Baat, offering his wise and witty take on the news of the day, which became hugely popular.
M K Venu, Co-Founder of The Wire, said Dua was a generous man, and hosted the show without charging a single penny. “Initially he just wanted to help us with the funds when we were setting up The Wire, and later the idea of doing a show was pitched. He said he had made enough money from the big brands, and so he did this free of cost… He came from the old school of anti-establishment journalism and had a huge following,” he said.
“He has such mastery over the craft; he was so easy on the camera. We were so resource staffed, so he used to use my office (at Gole Market) to record his show. He would speak extempore and that was the mark of his professionalism that he would start and finish in 15 minutes. It didn’t even need editing. For a long time, Wire’s branding was associated with Vinod Dua. In our formative years, his name was inextricably linked to ours,” said Venu.
In 2018, Dua was accused of sexual harassment by a documentary filmmaker, allegations he denied.
Apart from those who knew him, several took to social media Saturday to mourn his passing. Among them was Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia. “Deeply saddened by the news of the passing away of the country’s senior journalist Shri Vinod Dua ji. He will always be missed in the journalism world. His presence on the TV screen instilled a sense of credibility. May God give strength to his family to bear this loss,” he wrote.
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