Telescope: Here, there, everywhere

Since last year, even when the PM travels, he is just a remote control button away.

Written by Shailaja Bajpai | Updated: May 21, 2015 12:09:33 am
Narendra Modi, Modi selfie Prime Minister Narendra Modi takes selfie at Yoga-Taichi joint event at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing (Source: AP)

Shanghai: Narendra Modi in kurta-waistcoat tells the Indian diaspora that while they holiday on Sunday, he will work (their fault?). Mongolia: Modi in a hat stands beside the horse gifted to him. Seoul: Modi, in a casual jacket and scarf snaked about his neck, asks Korean CEOs to see “the change” in India.

Here’s a striking feature of the Indian prime minister in the last year: even when he is far away from us, he is just a remote control button away. Or, to use the Delhi Police slogan— with you, for you, always.

By stringing Doordarshan along, by going tweet-tweet all day long, Modi has been the overwhelming presence in our lives.

We are unable to ignore him. He is always going places (literally and metaphorically), declaiming grandly on live broadcasts and cutting a fine figure. You may or may not approve of his fashion statements but he makes them all the time, and they say something about the man: He wants his presence known, felt. Can anyone forget his monogrammed suit?

The previous prime minister had many sterling qualities, but addressing the public was not one of them. We barely heard him speak. He too travelled the world and the seven seas, but his media managers seldom exposed him to “live” broadcasts. We witnessed few hugs, warm handshakes with foreign leaders or heard their compliments. With Modi, it is quite the opposite. He is here, there and everywhere — on TV. A calculated strategy excludes the private-owned media from his entourage, but ensures All India Radio and Doordarshan capture and broadcast his best moments. Which is why, even when he addresses foreign audiences, he is addressing “the nation”, too.

Wearing that hat and standing by the horse gifted to him in Mongolia, Modi was like India’s Marlboro Man in the American cigarette commercials: masculine, adventurous and always on the move. (Speaking of ads, noticed Dulcoflex and an Ayurvedic churan for constipation on air — inspired by the film Piku?)

Watched J.P. Nadda interviewed on Doordarshan (Monday). Who? While we’ve been overexposed to the prime minister, his ministers have marked their presence by their absence from public view — barring a few, of course. Now, they are being pushed in front of the TV cameras and told to explain how they’ve earned their keep over the last 365 days.

That irritating gadfly of the NDA government is back. The Delhi chief minister always finds ways to turn the cameras away from Modi and towards himself. Thus, the Arvind Kejriwal-Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung standoff assumed such gargantuan proportions in the media that the evening debates on Modi’s first year were drowned out by the “jung” (poor pun). You see so much of Kejriwal on TV, you sometimes wonder when he works.

No matter how many times news channels broadcast the CCTV footage of the shootout-death of Manoj Vashisht, we couldn’t see what exactly happened. So why run it so often?

Much more satisfying from the viewer’s viewpoint was Sadhvi Pande, who climbed atop the Mercedes of a Samajwadi Party leader and shattered the car’s windscreen. Hindi news channels delighted in the outrage — not once questioning the dangerous consequences of such road rage, which has seen a bus driver beaten to death in Delhi.

Finally, watch Javed Jaffrey or J.J. Singh as he calls himself, relive old films (One More Time, EPIC). He effortlessly entertains and celebrates films like Farz (1967) with Jeetu and Babita. Great throwaway lines: says he of the Chinese villain who dies a horrible death in Farz, it had to be because he was “made in China”!

shailaja.bajpai@expressindia.com

For all the latest Opinion News, download Indian Express App

More From Shailaja Bajpai