Monday, June 3, 2013

Of limpets & the Renaissance Man


Channel surfer

Randeep Wadehra

Some news channels called him maverick; others described him as Indian cinema’s icon and Bengali cinema’s Renaissance Man. The 49 year old Rituparno Ghosh was on his way to becoming a living legend, when he died of cardiac arrest. He had begun his career with a Bengali movie for children, Hirer Angti. Later, he made such memorable films like Dahan, Raincoat, Antarmahal, Asukh, Choker Bali, Bariwali, The Last Lear etc. Ghosh had much more to offer; he had already won more than a dozen national and international awards, and certainly deserved the rich tributes paid to him on various Hindi and English channels.

Arunima Sinha is the first woman amputee to conquer Mount Everest. This in itself is a great achievement. However, there is a saga of destruction, despair and re-emergence hidden behind it. It began about two years ago. When Sinha was a national volleyball player, she was thrown off a moving train, leading to her left leg’s amputation. This ended her career as an active sportsperson. But Sinha proved to be a gritty sportswoman. With the legendary Bachendri Pal’s help, and the Tata Steel Adventure Foundation’s support, she reinvented herself as a mountain climber and did what many dream of but few achieve – fly the national flag atop the highest mountain peak in the world. She can rightly be described as “differently enabled.” This show on NDTV was so different from the din and waffle that passes for information on news television.

Nevertheless, women were in the news for other reasons too. For example, girl toppers outnumbered boys in the CBSE exam results announced on Thursday. CNN-IBN’s Sagarika Ghose anchored a discussion on the desirability of having a marks driven education system. As more and more students are scoring 95+ percent marks in various board exams there is a need to have a relook at the entire system. But would this happen? Not, if one goes by what the toppers had to say. Understandably, they are comfortable with the status quo. If the discussion had also included some low scoring students, it would have provided a balanced perspective.

After four years as a member of NAC, Aruna Roy suddenly discovered that there was “lack of political will” to implement MGNREGS properly and take up social welfare legislation seriously. She even hinted at a rift between the Prime Minister and the UPA chairperson on the matter. As if on cue, various talk show wallahs took up the issue, which focused more on the alleged rift than on the merits and demerits of having one more populist legislation, which may or may not benefit the poor. Talking of the poor, the IBN Live telecast a video clip of a woman cop thrashing three poor women in Aligarh. An improvement, really, by the UP police standards; last time it was a male cop in Ghaziabad who was caught on camera, slapping a woman. Carry on cops!

However, most of the week, the news TV remained full of… no, not what you are imagining, but quite close to it. Yes, the IPL; even as the Indian team was leaving for the Champion’s Trophy. During the press conference, Dhoni wore his smile like protective armor against questions from journalists. A lot of footage was gobbled up in deciphering the implications of this silent smile. Had Srinivasan instructed him to zip it? Was Dhoni practicing maun vrat as a penance of sorts? After all, even in the Kuru court there were clean, wise men who preferred discretion to valor while Duryodhana and his gang went on an evil spree. Meanwhile, Srinivasan stood his ground, or rather desperately clung to the increasingly unstable BCCI throne, as others – his so-called friends, and hidden foes – gradually ganged up to try and unfasten his grip – a situation that continued until the filing of this column. Reminds you, no, not of Angad’s immovable leg in Ravan’s court – that would be a heresy – but of what the late Rajiv Gandhi had uttered while describing a certain set of politicians, “The limpets.” However, will Srinivasan’s successor be any different? This is something that our omnipresent, omniscient news TV alone can (fore)tell.

Published in The FinancialWorld dated June 03, 2013

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