February 13, 2010

MNIK - Media Holds India Hostage

February 13, 2010 Posted by Vijay , No comments
Though I have been trying to restrain myself from blogging about My Name Is Khan (MNIK), the outcome and the coverage it has been given warranted me to write atleast a few words about the entire episode. There are three main protagonists about the entire MNIK episode. Shah Rukh Khan, the Badshah of Bollywood, fondly referred to as SRK, Shiv Sena, and the third annoying protagonist, the media.

Frankly, the Shiv Sena's protests and insensitive posturing and violence are but sure signs that it is in its last leg as a prominent political outfit. Its protests against Rahul Gandhi died down in a whimper, and even though they threatened to cast a shadow of violence around the screening of MNIK, the film has gone on to open to full house audiences. Another blunder by Shiv Sena, which is ailing under the senile leadership of Bal Thackeray. Not only is the Shiv Sena devoid of any agenda which helps Mumbai or Maharashtra as a whole, it has brought embarrassment to itself by taking on national icons like Sachin Tendulkar, Mukesh Ambani and now, SRK.

SRK, to be fair to him has found himself in the midst of unnecessary politics, which Shiv Sena claims to have had success at. SRK had made statements on NDTV that there was a problem about signing Pakistan players in IPL. And that he wanted to have Abdul Razzak in his Kolkata Knight Riders for the IPL. Shiv Sena conveniently misconstrued his statements and branded SRK a traitor, and asked him to apologise, questioning SRK's intentions behind signing Pakistani players and his statement of Mumbai for All. SRK to his credit, stuck to his stand and insisted that no one should question his Indianness. He was even asked to go to Pakistan if he felt so strongly about his support for Pakistani players. SRK repeatedly held his ground and refused to tender an apology for something which he never alluded to as anti-Maharashtrian or anti-Indian.

While SRK has been strong and has won the hearts of millions of Indians, the Shiv Sena has further floundered and its demise seems all too imminent. Uddhav Thackeray looks more like an order taker from his father, Bal Thackeray and is devoid of any political know how. In all this peculiar drama, one eerie coincidence is noticeable. Karan Johar (KJo) has been involved in all the major Sena protests in the past six months. Beginning with the use of Bombay in Wake Up Sid which Raj Thackeray's Mentally Nil Sena (MNS) protested, then the Shiv Sena presenting sarees for Kareena for her dare bare in Kurbaan, both of which KJo produced. Now it’s his own directorial MNIK under the Sena hammer. Is Karan Johar the silent marketer that the Sena badly wanted? Is Karan using the Sena to gain publicity for his films?

Amidst all this, the media has enabled and embraced this episode and lapped it all up. The media has tracked down what SRK tweets, what Shiv Sena retorts and given it all the coverage which KJo would have hoped for. What is astonishing is the kind of headlines this whole nonsensical issue has generated. Over a period of an entire week, SRK emerged as new age India's freedom fighter against Sena and its goons. The media kept praising SRK over television, and insisted to the audiences in the country that SRK is being hard done by, and the Sena is being over the top.

Now why does this issue need to make the top of the headlines day after day, is downright ridiculous. Important issues such as fuel hike, its impact on inflation, and even the upcoming budget has been sidelined. These are the issues which need media coverage and will influence decisions and inform citizens of what lies ahead. Utterly irresponsible coverage by the television media which is hungry for TRPs alone. The day isn't far away when sting operations by media are done inside the hospital ward of film stars to assess if their urinary trouble is still persisting. The reporter may then say - "As you can see from the sting operation we conducted, X (the star) still urinates in trickles. The drops fall down due to force of gravity, and each drop is less dense than the last time we did the sting operation. Up ahead, watch our live coverage about how X goes about morning defecation."

The positive outcome of all this farce has been Sena's complete rejection by almost the entire nation. With MNIK opening to packed theaters, the message is loud and clear. Holding a city hostage to prevent screening of a movie and creating violence is insane and unacceptable. The other observation has been the alacrity of the police establishment. If only Mumbai Police had acted with such co-ordination and alertness during 26/11. The attacks could have been atleast mitigated to an extent. SRK and KJo have achieved their objective, and walked away with laurels for MNIK. The Shiv Sena has yet again shot itself in the foot. The television media has walked away with TRPs, and held the entire Indian audience hostage to an issue which has neither thrown light on the upcoming budget, nor addressed inflationary trends.