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Media irresponsible says Aamir

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Friday, March 24, 2006

New Delhi (UNI): Lashing out at the mainstream media in the country for its ''misplaced emphasis on the sensational'', superstar Aamir Khan has said the degeneration of the level of news reporting in the fourth estate has led him to keep the media ''off-limits''. It is his sense of outrage at the attitude of the print and visual media and the ''absurdity'' of the mainstream media content that, Aamir said, led him to keep himself 'aloof' from the media during the pre-release publicity of his superhit film 'Rang De Basanti', the actor said in an interview to the Tehelka newspaper. ''Despite the expected media interaction that the release of 'Rang De Basanti' demanded of me, I could not bring myself to deal with this kind of people--this monster that the media has become,'' Aamir said in an interview in the April 1 issue of Tehelka. Instead, Aamir said, he let 'Rang de Basanti' ride on its inherent strengths to become a blockbuster.

Aamir said news reports like the Salman-Aishwarya tapes, the sting operation on Shakti Kapoor, a channel's faux interview with him (Aamir) and the ''poaching'' on an ailing Bachchan were examples of the ''misplaced priorities'' and the absurdity of the media. ''It isn't just the cynical decimation of the professional or intrusion into deeply personal aspects (his marriage) that irks Aamir, but also a cause of worry is the misplaced emphasis on sensationalism. ''Because they want ads, they are destroying what is a very important part of society that is news reporting. They are wasting important national space that should be used in a more productive manner,''he said

Stating that the core principle of journalism, that of being a watchdog was today being violated by the print as well as the visual media, he said,''the media is meant to be a watchdog of society, not its lapdog!'' Aamir said that when he started out as an actor he shunned the ''tinsel press'' for the same reason even though not talking to film magazines at that time (when there were no satellite channels) would mean cutting himself from his fans.  ''I understood that but I chose to do what is right,'' he says. Today, however, he felt the same way about the mainstream press.

Countering the argument by many media houses that readership and viewership tastes are paramount, Aamir said, ''great responsibility is invested in the press. Media has to exercise more restraint and discretion than filmmakers if it claims to be a serious purveyor of news. On sting operations, he said such operations were admissible if they were governed by public interest.

Holding the Hindi as well as the English media guilty of ''overkill'', Aamir said, ''some news channel has to get up and say I am not indulging in this. It might lose viewership for the first month or so but it will establish that it is not indulging in all of this. And I am sure people will come around.''

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