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Monday, June 25, 2018

An open letter to Anurag Kashyap: Stop using the media for your convenience

Anurag Kashyap, you claim media is a bully looking for headlines. Have you forgotten how this 'bully' stood up for you during Udta Punjab controversy?

Written by Sonup Sahadevan | Mumbai | Updated: October 19, 2016 2:20:41 pm
Anurag Kashyap, Anurag Kashyap media fights, Anurag Kashyap tweets, PM modi An open letter to Anurag Kashyap: You only brand media as bullies and headline seekers when you are facing flak for your comments and opinions.

Dear Anurag Kashyap, you say media is a bully looking for headlines. Have you forgotten how this ‘bully’ stood up for you during Udta Punjab?

Let’s try and dissect your perpetual hate for the media. You accuse us of looking for headlines when we reach out to you which makes me ask what exactly is a headline. Simply put, headline is something that you magnificently created by posting the Whatsapp screenshot containing the number of a female journalist who was only doing her job by trying to get an interview with you.

This headlining act of yours made sure the journalist’s personal number became public to a large number of strangers in the digital world, the repercussions of which she had to face for the rest of the day. That was the impact of your headline. And talking about impact, I am reminded of the infamous Udta Punjab row when our headlines helped your cause, something that you now seem to have conveniently forgotten. Just to spare you the trouble, I have pulled out a few news ‘headlines’ that you had retweeted during that period and I will start with the one belonging to Indian Express.

On June 22, you retweeted:

Rewinding a little, one can see how magnanimously you have retweeted positive headlines of all film critics who heaped praise on Udta Punjab. Little more down, one will see a retweet of Times Now’s flash headline outlining the observations of the Bombay High Court in the Udta Punjab case. Now let’s fast forward a bit. You have retweeted all news items that praise your film Raman Raghav 2.0. Ditto with Akira. Quite a predictable pattern.

So my question is – When did we become the bully? When did we become a ‘headlines only’ hungry medium? Didn’t we stand up for you, your film and the film industry? Didn’t we hail you for your extraordinary courage for raising voice against grave injustice being meted out to you by the CBFC? But I guess those headlines were in your favour and hence you didn’t brand media then as ‘looking for headlines’. You were more than happy to give interviews, attend press briefings and appear on various news channels. You were willing to talk to us then and didn’t label our phone calls as a waste of time. Why? Just because we supported you and your cause needed us then.

And now, when you are facing huge flak for your comments and opinions, you want to hide behind the veneer of Twitter and not grant interviews and instead brand us as bullies and headline seekers. I accept that you have the right to decide when to talk and when not to depending on which way the ball is swinging, but in the case of the journalist who you chose to ‘expose’ you could have simply told her right at the start of the conversation when she wrote, “You should talk Anurag,”‘ that you are not present in your house. That would have put an end to the so-called headline seeking act.

Also read | Anurag Kashyap clarifies tweets: I didn’t ask PM Narendra Modi to apologise

Your tendency to warm up to the media when praised and shoo them away when criticised is reminiscent of the child who angrily walks away with the bat after being given out in a game of street cricket.

Today, I believe not all of what you have tweeted, posted or uploaded in relation to the ADHM controversy are praise-worthy and certainly not the part where you tagged Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Irrespective of whether you asked the PM to apologise or not, let me tell you India is not a centralised nation where the power to take decisions is vested only in a single authority. As a decentralised government, powers have been disseminated to the middle or low-level administration. Instead of trying your usual stunt of tagging Narendra Modi for every small issue, you should approach the relevant authorities in the state which is exactly what Mukesh Bhatt and others did yesterday with great success.

So the next time you think of tagging PM Modi in cases concerning ‘art’, ‘artistes’ or ‘ban’, please do yourself a favour by referring to your own tweet dated June 10 where you have yourself thanked Narendra Modi for putting it out loud and clear that art can’t have any restrictions or limits. And that remains the government’s official position till date given the fact that there hasn’t been any announcements suggesting the contrary. And don’t expect the PM to sit and reiterate the same thing for your benefit every single time.

And before I sign off, I just wanted to say your assessment of a party being redundant and irrelevant is not entirely correct. Haven’t you heard form is temporary, class is permanent. Just like Ranbir Kapoor will remain a superstar even if he gives 25 flops, Raj Thackeray’s say in issues that are political in nature pertaining to Mumbai and Maharashtra will make it to the top headlines. Even the story of him gifting Amitabh Bachchan a sketch made it to the front page of a leading city tabloid. Would you call this a headlining act, Anurag?

(The views expressed in this piece are of the writer.)

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