Tuesday, May 15, 2007


A middle aged woman, garlands around her neck, is guzzling whisky one bottle after another, supposedly under a spell of 'shamshaan devi', even as her devotees bring more bottles filled with 'prashad'. This goes on for about an hour after which she starts 'solving' their problems. She grabs one by his hair and slaps him a number of times (The only right thing she'll do that evening!) before telling him he is possessed by some evil spirits. She then proceeds to finish another bottle of whisky, declaring that she will take care of those spirits and move on to the next 'client'.
Cut to ---
A small town in Bihar where a 'Baba' is known to imprison an evil spirit in an iron nail which he hammers into the trunk of a nearby tree. There are hundreds of them in that trunk already. You can see a number of trees around, once healthy and green, but now as dead as the people whose spirits they hold captive. "These trees have died because of these evil spirits" the villagers say; ignoring, quite amazingly, that all those nails in the trunk might have anything to do with it.
No, these are not the scenes from Zee Horror Show or a Ramsey Brothers Movie. I have neither had any of that 'prashad' from 'shamshaan devi' nor am I pissed because I don't get all those bottles of whisky for free.
Believe it or not....these are true incidents shown on the so-called News Channels around India. There is very little said in these programs to discourage anyone from resorting to such measures to solve their problems. There is absolutely nothing to suggest that such cheats are a menace to our society. In fact, people who have 'benefited' from them are shown and interviewed (a la those annoying infomercials you see all the time).
It is obvious that media these days is influencing our lives more than ever before. It has become the 'Big Brother', telling people what is good and what is bad. From the most mundane thing like 'what movie you should see this weekend' to 'who you should blame for your rotten life'. You almost sense a moral superiority in their voice as they openly castigate 'that politician who was caught accepting bribe' or 'that cricket star doing too many commercials'. That is, if they get time between programs about 'How to pacify your 'Mangal'' , 'How to worship 'Shani'' or 'Which direction you should be facing while taking a dump according to Vaastu-Shastra'.
News media all around the world are influenced by the powers that be in their respective area. Even the 'Land of the Free' is not immune to it and news channels over there have been questioned frequently. Serious questions have been raised about their political neutrality. It is not unexpected for channels to advocate certain political ideology; as politicians are, many times, the guys running these channels. But promoting such cheap tricks on television cannot possibly be explained or justified.
Only plausible explanation comes from the most unexpected source. A news channel recently showed an Audio release party held in Patna (where else!!!) of a bhojpuri album. The dancers smooched on the stage as they broke into most suggestive and vulgar dance in full view of the audience and TV cameras alike; apparently to give an idea of what to expect from the album. One TV channel, needless to say, pounced on this 'moral outrage' and showed that clipping as many times as it possibly could to generate awareness among people about the prevalent vulgarity in society (yeah RIGHT!!). 'Payal', the girl dancing on the stage was interviewed later and she said, "Sex is shown because it sells!"
Bingo!....that is the only explanation possible for TV channels to air programs about all those 'Babas', Sadhus', 'Tarot Card Readers' and 'Numerrologgists' (sorry I got carried away..). They do it because IT SELLS!!"
Vijay Tendulkar, the noted Marathi Playwright recently mentioned that "It is okay for poor people to practice such blind faith because they have no other way to see light at the end of the tunnel." Dr. Shriram Lagu in reply said, "You can even justify actions of a thief by that logic because, many times he too has no other choice!" I agree with Dr. Lagu. In fact, in my opinion, it is okay for an Ambani or the Big B to do any of these things (as they are shown doing quite often) simply because it doesn't make a difference to them. But, a middle class person who spends his hard earned money for these things at the cost of food or clothes for his family is the one we need to be concerned about.
---It is, therefore, high time we stand up and protest against these ' Sell-Out artists' masquerading as noble journalists.
---It is high time we tell them:
"You are worse than that girl dancing in Patna because; she probably has more compelling reasons for doing what she does than YOU!!"
---It is high time WE give these TV channels a 'NEWS FLASH':

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