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Last Updated 18.08.2018 | 8:28 PM IST
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Reflections – Media holding stars at ransom


Shah Rukh Khan had the foresight to show the ugly side of media in Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani a decade back. Ram Gopal Varma thought bigger with Rann early this year. And just a few days back, Aamir Khan went full throttle with Peepli [Live] . What each of the three films touched upon was the insensitivity that was put on display, especially by broadcasting media when it came to questioning an individual. On camera. LIVE.


A tricky situation indeed, especially when the camera is rolling. How does an individual react when he is put in the line of fire with million prying eyes ready to listen to that byte which could make or break the situation? Especially so when the celebrity happens to be a film personality, easily the most recognizable of all. The one who lives in the world of glamour and wants to die there. The one who revels in all the attention around him and
could very well perish in the same.


No wonder, a Katrina Kaif can’t take it any more when cameras and mikes are thrust on her face for that one byte about her romantic life. Or a Salman Khan doesn’t mind taking on the media heads on – even if that happens alarmingly close to his own film’s release – by daring reporters to ask a question about his personal life.


In this week’s ‘Reflections’, let’s ponder if broadcasting media is going a little too far in it’s quest for being the first one up to break that news? Is a reporter with a camera and mike indeed misusing his position and unfailingly coming up with those unflattering queries that are not just far away from being decent but also below the belt? Is there a misplaced belief that a celebrity would revel in anything and everything written about
him regardless of all boundaries being crossed?


Let’s explore


‘Kya aapka XYZ heroine ke saath scene chal raha hai?’


Ok, so it is expected that majority of film celebrities are immune to personal queries. Rightly so because actors are expected to carry their acting hat even while attending press conferences and other dos. Also, with advent of 200 news/entertainment channels, queries like these pretty much fill day in life of a celebrity.


Par kab tak?


Agreed that a star may be fine with such persistent queries but can he be expected to answer the same question with same emotion practically every hour? He or she is expected to become irritated at times, lose temper or just break down at a particular juncture. It’s just human. The same happened to Katrina Kaif recently and one can’t blame her for that.


Now the same could also happen during an interview being conducted for the print media. However, there is still a margin for error there. A break down could result in an attempt for peace by both the parties. There is a possibility of a pause. There are stories that can be re-written. Questions could perhaps be drafted a little differently. Worse, the exchange of words – if at all – could be censored or totally eliminated.


But does any of that work in broadcasting medium? Especially when what is being captured is broadcast live? A recorded conversation could still take a safer route but something which is live is for the keeps. So what does a celebrity do in that case? Clinch his fist and stay calm, continue to smile in front of the camera so that no awkward moments is there for millions to see, stay on to be polite despite the seething anger or act plain indifferent even though a query requires a rap on the knuckles?


No wonder, any slip of tongue or twitch in an eyebrow results in a breaking news. Here is how!


Yeah baby, that’s breaking news for you


A press conference is on. Stars have occupied the stage. And for that brief moment, the superstar out there happens to look the other way. Just for that single moment. Perhaps the one where he may have been called upon by someone. However, what he does for those 5 seconds turns out to be that breaking news which would keep the channel occupied for the next five hours. Here is how:


‘Kya hero hai apne co-star se naraaz’


‘Hero ne dikhayi apne co-star se berukhi’


‘Hero aur heroine mein hui ansuni, raaz khula bhari media ke saamne’


Those five seconds will now start appearing in repeat mode minute after minute with a running commentary spiced up with ingredients that would have been put together with every passing hour. There would be circles drawn around the hero’s face. Statements appearing in bold with zoom in and out would occupy the screen while a vociferous voice be heard in the background around how stars are unhappy with each other.


All due to the fact that someone out there perhaps screamed ‘Hey superstar’ from some distance out there.


Of course, what is being stated above may or may not have really happened. However, what it aims at conveying is the reflection of the today’s time when breaking news has intruded a celebrity’s life in such a manner that there is absolutely nothing that is kept secret at all. But how about some decency in the manner a celebrity is approached?


Are decency and respect for an individual passe?


This is for the students who are reading this feature:


Place: School/college assembly.


Principal announcing on stage: ‘Hey you XYZ, in your last couple of exams you didn’t manage good marks. Don’t you think you are a disgrace to your parents?


And this is for the working professionals who are reading this feature:


Place: An MNC get together with a thousand odd employees


CEO, while addressing the crowd: ‘Hey you XYZ, you have been an underperformer for last 18 months. Don’t you think you deserve to be fired?’


Now both these questions are perfectly fine as long as they are spoken to an individual in a 1-0-1 manner. But in public? Naah, certainly not and I am sure no one would want it that way. ‘Bhari biraadari mein be-izzati? No ways!’


But why do we secretly smile when a celebrity is questioned on these lines on camera? In public. For public. Live.


‘Aapki pichli 4 filmein flop ho gayi hain. Kya aapko aisa nahi lagta ki aapki wajah se producers ko bahaut nuksaan ho raha hai?’


Again, a valid question but does it deserve to be broadcast live? Can’t there be a restraint where a recorded statement is made rather than a celebrity being put under the dock where he has just a couple of seconds to think about the reply? Or perhaps given an option where he opts not to reply?


However, for a broadcasting professional, any of the three responses are good enough to make for that breaking news, just because the moment has been captured live!


Celebrity says ‘yes’ to the question? Flash on TV – ‘Superstar ne admit kiya ki unki wajah se producers hue barbaad’


Celebrity says ‘no’ to the question? Flash on TV – ‘Chaar flops dene ke baad bhi superstar ne kiya producers ki barbaadi se inkaar’


Celebrity says ‘nothing’? Flash on TV – ‘Ghamand mein choor superstar ne media se feraa moon; kuch nahi tha kehne ko toh saadh li chuppi’


Poor celebrity, in his next live interview, he would better opt for saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’. It is still a better way out, isn’t it?


Just think!

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