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Monday, July 23, 2018

Telescope: State in the bedroom

Pahlaj Nihalani would have given TV shows on Section 377 an ‘A’.

Written by Shailaja Bajpai | Published: February 4, 2016 12:32:11 am

So there was a lot flying around this week, at least one kite but primarily a lot of garbage. Of many kinds, but primarily rubbish, also of many types, but primarily the waste from our homes that we saw on the roads and on the news. CNBC Awaaz juxtaposed the man-made mountains of litter with the dirty tricks department of Delhi Police as they assaulted protesters outside the RSS office in the capital. Their lathis were whirling around like M.S. Dhoni’s bat in the helicopter shot.

The airwaves were then filled with allegations of police brutality and the RSS defence that they were not responsible for the police action — quite so, but did anyone hear them condemn it as loudly as we all heard it on the Arnab show?

Ramdevji threw around his own noodles, sorry allegations (ABP): The yoga teacher-pastamaker alleged an MNC plot against oodles of his noodles. Meanwhile, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh has also become a market guru: He launched his own food products — 14 types of daal, three types of tea, and many other what-nots. He claimed that his products will help close the “black market”, end “contamination” (News 24). Now, if that isn’t kite flying, what is?

We saw an aircraft flying about — a Russian Sukhoi jet, claimed News 24. It was killing the IS — “aag ubal raha hai”, or so we were told. However, the footage had no source, date or geographical detail. The planes may have been over sub-Saharan Africa for all we know.

It was a report on the “brutality” of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, IS leader, and his band of brutish followers. We saw footage of IS terrorists leading men to their beheading, speaking to camera, posing for shots; cars and buildings exploded in grey smoke, people fled, bombs fell everywhere — repeatedly. The voiceover said that recently, the IS had killed 20 of its own men and four of them were Indian. None of this was confirmed or sourced. Two Muslim clerics warned young Muslims not to join him. The anchor told us, “he [Baghdadi] hates Indians”.

Hindi news channels delight in unidentified flying objects — extra-terrestrial or of human creation. They also have a particular weakness for terrorists and criminals: Dawood is a great Aaj Tak favourite and so was Chhota Rajan until he was caught. Pakistan-based terrorist groups proliferate on channels like Zee News, India News, News Nation, News 24. Little of the material is ever sourced, attributed, dated or identified. Higgledy-piggledy, random visuals are combined and a commentary says what it likes — normally, an impassioned condemnation of the blackguards, a warning to India’s Muslims not to fall for their charms — and if a little anti-Pakistan sentiment informs it all, well, so be it.

Plenty of three-, four- and multiple-letter words wafted in and out of conversations on Section 377. Never heard so much sexual talk on air in one night. How very refreshing. “Sex,” said one participant on India Today, “for procreation or recreation is a force of nature.” “It is against the order of nature,” insisted Zafaryab Jilani of the AIMPLB, “Indians believe gay sex is unnatural.” “How long did it take for you to admit you are gay?” Barkha Dutt (NDTV24x7) asked the scriptwriter of the film, Aligarh, Apurva Asrani, in a debate on the “right to love, to have sex, consensual sex”. Kamal Farooqui thought homosexuality was a “medical disorientation” (told you there were multiple letter words) but said “private things, let them remain there”, while Wendell Rodricks said he didn’t want the state in the bedroom. On CNN-IBN, Ashok Row Kavi spoke about how he “desired men”.

Censor board chief Pahlaj Nihalani would have certified all these shows “A” like he did the Aligarh trailer.

shailaja.bajpai@expressindia.com

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