Mr Gandhi, Mr Gandhi, Mr Gandhi, the nation wants an answer: Are you ready to resign from being a Gandhi?
Well, thank your grandmother’s lucky stars that no anchor/panelist/reporter/
Now that I have established I am no paid attractor or detractor of TV news, the question before the nation tonight is: Who won the day? Let’s take them one by one.
NDTV 24×7: With a gloomy set that’s straight out of a depressing ’70s ‘realistic’ film, Prannoy Roy and Dorab Supariwala tried their best to strike that (missing) chord in your heart, harping back to those good ol’ days when an election-result day was better entertainment than a humdinger of a one-day cricket match. But alas! Sounding aged, jaded and quite literally faded, Pronnoy managed to sound more like your retired uncle who has started losing his marbles just that teeny-weeny bit.
His questions somewhat inane and his famed analyses somewhat clichéd, the man who arrived with a bang for all those growing up in the late ’80s with a refreshing The World This Week, and took over a nation’s conscience in the next decade, Pronnoy, sharp-suited as usual, looked a shadow of his former self.
The choice of guests/panelists leaving much to be desired — let’s face it, their attention-grabbing faculty was as high as The Hindu’s in making you laugh every morning — the channel’s coverage got a shot in the arm, for momentum if nothing else, as Barkha Dutt took over. The good Lord above and the Devil below know I am no fan of Barkha, but at least the poor viewer was saved from going off to sleep.
As for its graphics, that team in NDTV needs a desperate overhaul and pull up its socks, pants, dirty underwear and everything — they looked, well, old, and you couldn’t but feel a sense of deja vu as they rolled down with the latest news, one at a time, even as many channels (Star News, for instance, which covered the whole screen for minutes at a time with graphics but voices coming like ghosts’ from the background.)
CNN-IBN: This is one channel that leaves me a little confounded. I believe Rajdeep Sardesai, despite the irritant in the pitch of his slightly nasal voice, is most astute journalist on Talk TV today. His interviewing skills are the best. The conversation with Digvijay Singh in the evening was a case in point. While everyone was gunning for any Congressman/woman available to get him or her to confess that the party came a cropper in UP largely due to Rahul Gandhi’s ineptness, Rajdeep got Piggy to admit that Rahul being a Gandhi, he is not meant for small jobs (my words, not Diggy’s), “work on the shop floor” in states. He is PM material straightaway.
Very, very impressive, especially at a time when Sagarika Ghosh was making a hash of it all while anchoring the show at that very moment. She was acerbic, vain and fighting as if she was trying equally vainly, like a heartbroken teenager whose boyfriend has walked off to make a point with the opposite woman. And that precisely is the problem with the channel: Sagarika gets too much time for the channel’s own good/sanity.
The poll expert/psephologist, Yogendra Yadav, is another weak link. He tries to come across as more of an expert than purported experts sitting on the panel. He should focus on the trends, and leave on the likes of Ajoy Bose, Sharat Pradhan and Swapan Dasgupta. Those gentlemen were brought in for their expertise (and gift of the gab).
On the field, Bhupendra Chaubey stands head and shoulders above most other reporters across channels, and should have been given more airtime
And that, in effect, is the problem with that channel — uncertain how to pitch its pitch.
TIMES NOW: A former colleague, understandably completely fed up with the channel’s star face, commented on Facebook midway through the day: despite eight panelists, why do I hear your voice for most of the time, Arnab?
Well, that’s the fun with Arnab Goswami: he is entertainment personified. Never shy of telling (yelling, actually) the world that everything humanity is learning is, thanks to his “your channel Times Now”, never afraid of admitting that he was left with a bit of egg on his face on a line of argument going wrong, and never self-conscious enough to let the panel throw questions at guests (in fact, more panelists questioned the guests from different political parties on his show than perhaps all the others put together). He is pure entertainment.
Knowing that the anchor is the real hero on such days, Arnab was also smart enough to get a perfect foil in Navika Kumar, who intervened in just the right moments, and making his poll analyst/psephologist to act like a handyman, not an expert.
Arnab was smart enough to understand that it is entertainment, pure and simple, and no amount of haranguing would have fetched him the eyeballs on Talk TV on such a TRP-needed day.
The panelists on the show, too, were good choices: smart, savvy and the young crop, there was little flaunting of punditry, more come-to-the-point-straight questions or wrapping up. Even the ‘oldies’ like Vinod Mehta and Indra Sinha were entertaining.
HEADLINES TODAY: Frankly, I didn’t watch it for long enough to draw a conclusion. Rahul Kanwal alone is enough to deter me, unless I am paid, of course. The likes of Akash Banerjee and Kartikeya Sharma with their all-knowing grins and questions just add to the problem.
HINDI CHANNELS: While NDTV India was smooth and on the ball as usual, and Aaj Tak looking and sounding more like Pronnoy Roy’s NDTV 24×7 — more ‘has-been’ than ‘is’ — I found News 24 quite cutting with their questions. Not curt but not soft either; not bad.
Star News, with its weird idea of making people sit in the studio as if they are on a railway station platform, was dim. And like NDTV 24×7, guys, please pull up your pants so far as graphics is concerned, your dirty underwear is showing. For a channel that purportedly takes graphics so seriously that it was content to fill up the whole screen with them at times, at the cost of the speakers, it was ridiculous. No one switches on the telly to look at a screen full of graphics; one can do that on the Internet.
PS: Renuka Chowdhary of the Congress takes the cake for being the biggest irritant among the guests. Her screechy “hello!” to interject and also start each reply/rebuttal gives you the creeps. We left that lingo back in college, Ms Chowdhury, it’s not cool any more. Certainly not for a 50ish political leader of some stature. Less said the better about coy permanent coy smirk — wipe that off, Ms Chowdhury, before you come on the screen next time, because unfortunately you would never know how exasperating that looks. It would have been different had you had any acumen and smart Aleck comments to make, but for someone whose only claim to TV fame is being a Gandhi family devotee, it is anything but good television.