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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Paid News, or the sad mechanics of money

Thanks to producer Umesh Aggarwal's persistent invitation,last wednesday found me at the IIC, to watch a documentary directed by him, titled "Paid News". The hall was packed, and after the film was shown, there was a lively debate. The film was interesting, though it cannot be shown on any channel or any theater, because it bluntly named individuals, such as Burkha Dutt and Vir Sanghvi, and therefore is subject to defamation laws.
However, what struck me was the panel discussion, which had the Chairperson of Prasar Bharti, Mrinal Pande, pontificating on the ills which ail the private channels and newspapers, while being entirely silent about how the government is gagging Prasar Bharati from doing a honest and fair reporting of stories in AIR and DD News. To add to this, a few gasbags had tagged along from Doordarshan, who heaped even more abuse on private media, while being entirely unashamed of how they had blacked out Anna Hazare.
Even more curiouser, was that the Director did not say a single word about his own film, even when invited to do so, while Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, who emerges as the Knight In Shining Armour in the film, seated himself in the back of the audience, and refused to say a single word.
Were they scared? Or simply self-effacing individuals? Nope.
They and their film had boxed itself into a position where they were the accusers, the judge, and also the jury...so, basically, they were hiding behind the panel, not really wanting to reply to the audience....

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