Saturday, July 31, 2010

Newsanchors as Stars....

When news anchors become the news…

We start thinking of them as our best friends. That’s the power of television. More than most characters in even the most popular of soap operas, it is news anchors who crawl into our lives and stay there. We believe them, trust them, fall in love with them. They are the people who tell us what to think, what to do, what to feel. That is, if they are good at their jobs. And you don’t get to anchor news or interview hot shots if you aren’t bloody good at what you do. I was thinking about this in a vague, distracted sort of way when I watched Barkha Dutt interviewing Digvijay Singh recently. No matter what she asked him, the man would giggle away, laugh uproariously, and generally carry on like a smitten schoolboy. When he wasn’t actively flirting with Barkha on camera , he was ogling her blatantly. Well, Barkha is not known for her bashfulness either. She was making eyes, cracking jokes and flirting right back! Excellent television, if you ask me. Some may call this tactic ‘establishing a rapport with the subject’ ( oh yeah?), but most viewers would describe this as the most public form of courtship – intentional or otherwise.
This is a worldwide phenomenon. Larry King, who recently hung up his colourful suspenders, was another tv personality who went flat out to woo his interviewees. In the bargain, he managed to get the unlikeliest celebs on his show to say the darndest of things. Ditto for Jay Leno , who often blushed and collapsed in a heap of embarrassment ( real or fake) when a particularly fetching female guest came on too strong. Unfortunately in India, most of our top male anchors refuse to do anything more than growl at guests. Sometimes ( but all too rarely) Karan Thapar lets up just a little and cracks a genuine smile and forgets to sneer. But most of the time, his trademark smirk stays fixed. Arnab Goswami remains determinedly stony faced, regardless of who his nightly panelists are. He is focused and forthright, sparing no one. There is no such thing as a ‘charm offensive’ in his book – not even in the larger interests of getting more dope for the all too frequent ‘Breaking News’. There was a time when half the women of this country ( well, those of us who belong to a certain vintage) had a major crush on Prannoy Roy. He made the Budget and Elections analyses super sexy with his suave manner and reassuring air. Never mind that the data and statistical overload went above our heads. We watched a handsome, bearded man reeling off numbers in a bedroom voice … and swooned. There are enough fans of Rajdeep Sardesai out there who will gladly vouch for his sex appeal. He knows exactly how to woo his constituency, adopting the manner of a rogue boy friend and using raw Salman Khan techniques. This alpha male approach obviously has its takers going by his popularity.
In the old Doordarshan days, people of my father’s generation were fida over a news reader called Salma ( the lady who wore a gigantic chrysanthemum or dahlia over one ear). I remember how avidly he used to hang on to every word she uttered, and rave over the way she draped her saree pallav, much to my mother’s annoyance. Salma was very much a fantasy woman for senior citizens . Smita Patil came later and was rapidly snapped up by Bollywood. There is something irresistible and alluring about the men and women we watch nightly in the privacy of our bedrooms. They become such an intrinsic part of our lives, we miss them when they aren’t around. I recall Rajat Sharma telling me candidly that his biggest high was to get recognized at airports and sign autographs. He was being honest. The truth is, we do engage with television anchors in a very intense sort of way. Their livelihood depends on the credibility they establish. And our faith in what they are saying depends on how convincingly they put it across. It is all make believe and word play. Anchors are performers, too. Just like discounted movie stars. Only difference being anchors get to write their own scripts, direct themselves, perform live with no scope for retakes, and keep their fingers crossed they don’t mess up big time in front of gigantic audiences. It’s a tough job. But someone’s got to do it.


I managed to locate Sidharth's website. It is

Look out for his reclining Guru Nanak on a verdant , luminous green field.


Anonymous said...

Do you remember:
Salma Sultana DD News Reader

*Aham* said...

barkha has the knack, she could get the best secrets out of anybody, by just being friendly... you know in her we the people show... all bade chotte people she single handedly womanhandles.

we all know that she completely dislikes some people.. but the way she manages her dislikes is just amazing.

i used to love rajdeep when he was in NDTV... much that he was my college profs son gave us a high. but post him joining cnn ibn he has completely become some atom bomb. he speaks from his stomatch... looks like "gareeb ki bhooke pet ki pukaar" types. he rants more than he delivers.

arnab, aiyyooo, he is one typical closed minded import from bhadralok. a rare picture of him smiling would create more sensation than nangi pungi naagin mallika sherawat.

another fataaka anchor is Shai, ndtv ,she has no powder-laali very gharelu, next door neighbour type reporting. my fav she is, sans all nautanki and jing bang...

and the only hindi anchor is richa aniruddh from IBN7... humaanity jhalakta hai in all her words.. heartfelt she is.

pranoy and shekar kapoor wallah, my mom also has a crush on him. at times when my parents have a tussle i simbly say "himmat karke pranoy ko bol diyaa hota, toh aise nahi ladna padtha"..(hmmmmm...but then i wouldnt have been born)

there was this doordharshan girl, geeta or something her name is, she used to look so pretty and fashionable.

de, i have this huuuuge crush on mumbai nu gujju anchor - tejas mehta, ndtv. every time i see him on tv... my dil bajaaos gitaar... he is one,, take home show mom... type.

krunal said...

jay leno is superb. i really don't know how he does what he does. you forgot one big name- ellen degenro (sorry for the spelling mistake- i don't know it precisely). but she is one of the coolest talk show hosts i have ever seen. she has got a male-like sense of humor. no wonder she is lesbian and married to a woman. i didn't know smita patil was an anchor. but she was so full of smartness and talent that her dark color never mattered. in fact i don't think i would have found her beautiful if she would have been fair complexioned. she was a black beauty.

Anil Kumar said...

Barkha seems to be scared of asking tough questions from Muslim leaders. I have seen her programs WE THE PEOPLE many times and whenever someone tries to make a point which is against her beliefs then she tries to cut them off quickly. Her approach is similar to loads of anchors in FOX NEWS channel in USA...the mouthpiece of Republican party of rich americans.

Barkha Dutt's BUTT and Indian Democracy are both out of shape. I hope no one should have any doubt about that. They both STINK in their present form and shape

Manmohan Singh sardar seems to be under the influence of alcohol when he compared Indian democracy with that of American during a press conference.

I gave Barkha my 2 paise worth of advise but obviously it fell on deaf years. My point is if you bring 20 experts in your program and think that in one hour program she can find some meaningful answers to an issue then it's WASTE of everyone's time. It may be good for her RATINGS but doesn't serve much purpose. To have a meaningful debate among experts, you need to give them sufficient time and ask tough questions and cross question them...rather than jumping among these 20 experts and giving them 10 to 25 seconds multiple times and cutting them off at will.

krutika said...


Except for Karan Thapar, nobody really asks good questions. You cannot forget Oprah..she goes where no one does, inspite of the huge audience, the guests reveal the inner most secrets to her as if they are having a conversation in a coffee shop. But i do like Bill O'reilly, he grills people on his show, but goes to extremes sometimes.

I am not very sure how the Indian media works, but in the US the mainstream new channels are predictable fox is for republicans and Cnn is for liberals. i mean these guys are predicatble and not neutral. Is CNNIBN more neutral?
I dont know everyone seems to be so pro congress.

I suggest shobha watch FAREED ZAKARIA, india born muslim, his show gps and his book post america world, is amazing....he is prtty good and very neutral for a muslim. You wont see him taking any sides and is prtty unbiased, love hi columns in news week as well.

Pinky Says said...

Well, Barkha acts like the star of the show and is on a self glorification spree. Was watching a program recently on 10 years after Kargil where she was interviewing some soldiers who she had interviewed 10 years ago and shared a bunker with. The program should have focussed on the soldiers and their brave deeds...but it seemed to highlight how brave she was in covering the war rather than on the bravery of the soldiers.

Today, hubby and I were watching one of the regular NDTV programs on Investments when it was rudely cut short to take it to some Breaking News on Barkha's interview with Suresh Kalmadi that is sadly not breaking. We all knew what a disaster it would be if CWG came to India. Are we fooling ourselves?

Anyways, point is Barkha acts like the queen of NDTV so thinks its her moral right to rudely cut short people on her programs, cut programs for her bulletins and go on and on about her achievements. Should be renamed to Barkha Dutt channel. No wonder she has a fan following on Facebook "Can you please take Barkha off air"

sidhu said...

@pinky says

u speak my mind yaar.

Anonymous said...


ameya said...

NDTV used to be a good watch before.
I dont waste my time on news channels anymore.
Doordarshan reminds me of Usha Albuquerque, Mini, Tejaswarsingh and the likes ... oh the days !!!

krunal said...

LOL, well said. you nailed it. i too think that barkha is a conceited queen. somebody ask her to get off the pedestal

Softy said...

krunal said...

if i were a soldier , i would have retorted to barkha dutt this way. dialogue from 'a few good man' by jack nicholsan

"You can't handle the truth! Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Lieutenant Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom! You weep for Santiago and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that Santiago's death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives! You don't want the truth, because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall! You need me on that wall! We use words like "honor", "code", "loyalty". We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline! I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it! I would rather you just said "Thank you," and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand a post. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you are entitled to!"

Manjiri Kale said...

Dear Ma.De.

Happy friendship day to u...!

Latha said...

The one who had a lesbian marriage is 'ellen degeneres'.
Shobha, you have to moderate these comments on Manmohan's Singh's drinking (he doesn't drink) & Barkha Dutt's butt.
Anyways this blog was interesting. You are 100% true regarding Prannoy Roy & Salma Sultan (I don't know what those men found in that dead pan - expressionless face !
There was this Sadhana Srivastav who used to come in the middle of the night with sleepy eyes. I've seen old bald men staying awake blinking with red puffing eyes & salivating at her.
What about Komal GB Singh & her luscious hair ? Where are these damsels now ?
Rajdeep Sardesai ? You want to join him in this list ? Oh, he'll be thrilled ! He is the son of the famous cricketer Dilip Sardesai.
I missed the Barkha - Digvijay Singh interview. Won't somebody Youtube it ?

Pooja Rathore said...

Dear blog dost Ma de - Happy friendship day and belated gurupurnima day - i have learnt a lot from u and will continue to learn from u.
I still like Mr roy , Barkha is good and has done well in her field.About Arnab i agree with your views.

Pooja Rathore said...

Dear blog dost Ma de - Happy friendship day and belated gurupurnima day - i have learnt a lot from u and will continue to learn from u.
I still like Mr roy , Barkha is good and has done well in her field.About Arnab i agree with your views.

Divya Virmani said...

Interesting article. I do remember Barkha Dutt covering Mumbai Terror Attacks. People sure went gaga over her bravery. Infact, at time, I've heard elders in my family chanting Barkha Dutt's bahaduri ke kisse... They seem to be quite entralled with her skills.

As far as Fox news is concerned, that seems more like a Punjab Kesari to Indians living in abroad. They come up with their own news and present their anchors as celebrities.

Everything is commercialized these days.

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