If this begins to read like “Sex, Lies and Videotape”, shh! Please don’t tell the Karni Sena, the BJP, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting or TV news anchors, otherwise we might witness more protests or be cut off in mid-sentence.
So, it’s perfectly acceptable, in these times of Swachch Bharat, to talk about toilets and what passes inside them, publicly, but we must see no sex, speak no sex and never ever have any sex. In Tuesday’s Nimki Mukhiya episode, one character asks, “Where is damaad ji?” and another replies, “In the toilet, motion tight hai”, at 8.30 pm, prime family viewing time (Star Bharat). That’s okay.
But it’s a “#GujaratSexScandal”, when in a recording, Patidar leader Hardik Patel, or someone resembling him, is seen in conversation with a woman, on a bed, before the lights go out and they’re in the dark. So are we, but we have enough imagination to know how one thing leads to another.
In this case, it led to outrage, Monday, on television news channels — especially Gujarati channels — which mostly took the form of repeatedly showing the recording, gleefully, one might add, and labelling it, “Hardik sex tapes” or, “Dirty CD” (News 18 India).
The mere use of the word “sex” in screaming headlines is enough to smear Patel’s image and raise doubts about his impact on the Gujarat polls, irrespective of whether he is in the recordings (there is more than one), or that he is a single, adult male entitled to his privacy. Republic TV asked: “What is the relevance of the (tapes) to the elections?” Or to anything else, for that matter, but on TV news, that doesn’t matter.
Still in Gujarat, it was “#ModiMaligned2017” on Times Now featuring “red crosses” on “the houses of Muslims” in a “communal plot to malign Modi” (Upfront and The Newshour, Monday). Why is a “desperate Opposition” (read Congress) doing this, the BJP — and of course The Nation — wants to know. In two hours of discussion, no hard evidence was produced to
support accusations of the Congress’s involvement but no matter, it makes for a sensational debate.
Some newspapers on Tuesday and ABP News in the evening examined the red crosses and found that they had been painted on the homes of both Hindus and Muslims, in all probability by the municipal authorities who admitted to marking homes for sanitation work. There is no link to any parties or any communal intent, ABP concluded.
What is the truth? Does it matter?
And then there was Padmavati. Most news channels in Hindi and English, like India Today, stoutly upheld artistic freedom while extensively covering the “right wing… spew venom” on Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film. Most, except a channel like Sudarshan on which a very self-righteous young anchor announced with complete conviction that the film was lowering the honour (“gaurav”) of the country. Since the film has yet to be released and she was not on the film’s production team, she cannot know this, so why did she say it? Perhaps because it doesn’t matter what you say on TV news?
India Today brought us a “world exclusive” (aren’t you just waiting for a “planetary exclusive” once humanity lands on Mars?) that “will shake Bollywood to its core” with the “most compelling leads” to the murder of Gulshan Kumar, in conversations with Dawood Ibrahim. What we heard was one voice talk about a “London friend” and his legal problems and the purported voice of Dawood ask, “You are talking about the goggled man?”. “Yes, the Karachi man, Chana Mursh”, he was told. According to India Today, “top investigators” say this is none other than singer Nadeem accused in Kumar’s murder. Well, Nadeem may well be shivering after the “exclusive” but surely it takes more to “shake” Bollywood?
CNN International waded into Delhi’s smog on Monday and came out gasping: This wasn’t only a health hazard, it was bad business for the Indian economy, CNN suggested even as PM Modi did a good job selling India at the ASEAN meet in Manila. By the way, notice his silence on what we might call “choke North India” and the BJP’s tepid comments?
Lastly, DD National has been showing a cross-section of Hindi films ranging from Sardar, Band Baaja Baaraat and What the Fish to The Shaukeens, Sultan, and Dhoni: The Untold Story, to name a few, at its weekday evening prime-time slot. Few commercial breaks. A relief from the unbearable boredom of watching most Hindi serials.