March Issue 2010
The Media Circus
Ram Gopal Verma films work on the basic assumption that politicians and businessmen are corrupt and together play a very dirty game. Rann, Verma’s latest release, goes a step further to add another player to this game — the media.
Vijay Harshvardhan Malik (Amitabh Bachchan), who represents the old school of thought, believes that the media should serve as an independent institution delivering truth to the people. For Jay Malik (Sudeep), Vijay’s son, a media outlet, in this case a news channel, is a business that needs to make money to sustain itself and compete with others in the market for good TRPs. This, he feels, is especially difficult when competitors don’t hesitate to stretch the truth and sensationalise news items to make money.
Mohan Pandey (Paresh Rawal), a member of the opposition party, realises that allying with Vijay is his best shot at increasing his chances of election. The principled Vijay is not interested, but his self-serving son-in-law Naveen aligns himself with Pandey in the hope that a Pandey victory will lead to favourable trade legislation. Jay, too, is roped in with the offer that money will be poured into his channel, allowing it to surpass competitor Amrish Kakkar (Mohnish Behl).
What happens when a politician aspiring to become prime minister, an industrialist trying to make it to the top, and the head of a news channel trying to secure TRPs for his company all join forces to achieve their goals? A devious concoction of falsehood presented as truth.
Together they create news. The man implicated in a recent bomb attack appears in a video stating that Hooda, Pandey’s political rival, ordered the bombing. Jay delivers this CD to his father, insisting that it would be in their best interests to break the news. In a moment of disillusionment with his political idol, Hooda, Vijay goes live and releases the video. What follows is the media circus we are all so familiar with — reruns of the videos on every channel, demands for resignation and the emergence of Pandey as the public’s political sweetheart.
Nobody questions the authenticity of the video. Only Purab, a young journalist aspiring to become like Vijay, is not ready to accept everything at face value and tries to uncover the truth. In the process, he learns of the corruption of the media and that there are very few honest men left in the field.
Verma’s maxim is, “accept nothing without questioning.” The media does not serve the people or democracy, it serves itself, just like other institutions, and Verma wishes his audience to be mindful of that.
Farieha Aziz is a Karachi-based journalist and teacher. She joined Newsline in 2007, rising to assistant editor. Farieha was awarded the APNS award for Best Investigative Report (Business/Economic) for the year 2007-2008. She is a co-founder and Director at Bolo Bhi, an advocacy forum of Digital Rights.