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News Channels hungry for films

By Faridoon Shahryar, IndiaFM
Monday, March 06, 2006

"Bollywood is spineless," says filmmaker Karan Razdan. He laments the incorrigible media intrusion in the lives of celebrities, especially the Bollywood brigade. "If only there was more unity, one could have checked the rampant degradation of film personalities on dime a dozen news channels emerging on a daily basis," the Girlfriend director says who self-admittedly "went through hell" after the backlash his controversial film received due to the 'unusual' pairing. He is one amongst many film personalities who are increasingly becoming wary of the constant trial through media, especially the television media. Is the tablodization of mainstream news channels justified in the name of tempestuous TRPs?

"News Channels are hungry for content from our films. They can't survive on hard political news for nobody will see it beyond headlines. They show videotapes of 1990 where a Govinda is shown dancing to the tune of Dawood Ibrahim...But what's the point of showing these tapes again and again after so many years," says producer-director Ashok Pandit.

Producer Vashu Bhagnani is of the opinion that there are no ethics involved in media these days. "Earlier I looked forward to watching news and I agreed with what I saw or heard. But now, since I know what's happening in Abhiskek and Aiswarya's life, the conjectures and announcements leave me flabbergasted. Bevakoof bannate hain public ko...They don't have the courtesy to verify."

India TV set the hitting-below-the-belt trend when they literally hammered the salacious details of the infamous Sting operation on Bollywood baddie Shakti Kapoor and Television Anchor Aman Verma. They were the ones who showed the on-camera molestation of South star and Nagma's sister Jyothika repeatedly in the name of a fan's proximity that caused discomfort to the star. The boost in TRPs gave a cue to the other news channels and in a true Bollywood fashion, the news gurus found the mantra to hit the bulls-eye at the box-office. They also underlined their favourite fall-guys. Big stars who make big news. And often commit big mistakes. Salman Khan, Govinda, Mallika Sherawat and Sanjay Dutt are the notable ones that star in sundry controversial mini-documentaries (Many of them baseless and mainly based on rumours) now and then on a news channel near you with a Bhoot like soundtrack playing in the background.

"I condemn people like Anu Malik who went overboard in praising Dawood Ibrahim in Godfather that Aaj Tak showed recently. But I would like to ask why the media never mentions that big stars like Aamir Khan and Sunny Deol have never bowed to the underworld! If Aamir Khan doesn't want his marriage to be covered, then that kind of respectability should be given to him, as he is someone who has brought so much of honour for our industry and our country," says Ashok Pandit defiantly.

Aamir Khan has always been a rebel. The reason he gave for his "Ban the Media Campaign" before the release of his latest blockbuster Rang De Basanti was his answer to the critics who had alleged that Aamir speaks to the Media only before the release of his film and hence he 'uses' the media for his own good. But the real reason was something else. The unsavoury legitimization of his alleged illegitimate child from a British Journalist on National TV, put him off big time. His displeasure was apparent as the security shooed away the Media from his marriage precincts at Panchgani. He recently went a step further when he slapped a suit worth Rs 21 crores on The Times of India group for using his name for endorsing the Filmfare Award function "without his consent."

Ashok Pandit had the final word about the possible remedies to get some more respectability for the film world: "The various film associations must come together to fight out this war of honour. The fight against the wrongful presentation of film personalities. The fight against piracy. The fight against no smoking in films. There has to be a proper organization that has to be formed to safeguard the interests of lakhs of people who are working day in and day out."

On this note, here's hoping that Bollywood stands up for itself and tries showing more transparency in future.

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