The media is a reporting agency. It reports news. News is what you hear for the first time and for it to catch your attention the media has to make the news sound as dramatic as possible. The publications and Channels have no choice but to do that so as to be able to stay in business and make money. So finally is it only about just making money? Not necessarily intended by all concerned, it could also be for the individual egos and clamouring for fame among the journalists themselves. Most of the media people bitch about each other as much as they bitch about others. But again like any other industry you cannot generalize them. Like there are good, bad, ugly filmmakers, there will be good, bad and ugly media people as eventually they are all human.
The interesting point is that how smoothly and without anybody consciously realizing the media has transformed from a truth telling machinery to a power-mongering and money-making enterprise.
What the media basically does is, it just strips everybody and makes money out it. The only difference between a strip-teaser and the media is that a strip-teaser bares herself so that others can enjoy her and give money, and the media strips others so that some others can enjoy and give them the money.
I know it sounds far fetched but does anyone out there believe that anybody in the media truly feel the gravity or the tragedy of happenings. They can hardly conceal the glee in their eyes when bad things happen. The badder the better, as there will be more eyes reading and watching them. Did you notice the pleasure they get in ripping films or personalities apart? But wait a minute. The film people are worse.
For all the anger film people show against critics it is actually the film people who enjoy and relish the nasty and bitchy comments or reviews much more than the public who read them, that is, except obviously the people who are being bitched and commented upon. The reason for this is nothing but jealousy and jealousy is a human trait and like lots of other emotions it gets magnified in the context of the entertainment industry.
The main reason for the jealousy is because people by nature cannot bear anyone else to be successful except themselves and one way of feeling successful even if one has not achieved anything is to watch with glee someone else fall down and to be ripped to shreds and the media supplies this pleasure to everyone in well-cooked great helpings. I truly think I deserve great credit for creating a project such as Aag to enable the media to dish out such fantastic entertainment to all concerned in ripping it apart. If entertainment is the sole purpose of a film, I think Aag has done more than a wonderful job, definitely much more than what it could have done in the theatres even if it turned out to be a damn good film.
The pressure to perform and the fear of failure and ridicule are at utmost peak in the film industry more than in any other place and that is mainly because of the media. Nobody knows or is interested what decisions went wrong in an hoteliers or a cloth merchants business and how much money he lost but if a filmmaker makes a flop everybody will know that because of the media. Fair enough the media is also responsible for the fame it gives to the same.
And fame is the key word here. Much more than money everybody wants to become famous, whoever comes to the industry they want to develop their own identity. The Khalid Mohammed’s, the Deepa Gehlot’s and all the other etc’s of the media are all desperate to get their individual fame and identities registered with all concerned as much as the film people. So as a consequence they tend to fall in love more with the way they rip the film apart much more than they hate the film.
The reporters is a truly thankless job what with day after day hour after hour to fill in so many papers and Channels and on top of that it has to catch eyeballs at any cost in fear of competition so they do it even if they have to be ruthless enough to hurt and scandalize personalities, and they do this to even to the people who they know on a personal friendly level. (Agar ghoda ghaas se dosti karliya toh khaayega kya?). When they get a certain whiff of an interesting story on someone a journalist’s greatest fear would be that it will be denied by the person. But still the necessity of having to feed the media monster he will cook up something even in that situation.
A few days back one Ashwini Deshmukh from Mumbai Mirror texted me to ask if there was rift between me and Amitji, to which I replied in the negative. He sent the same message to Amitji, to which Amitji replied that he was planning to do 20 films with me. So now one would imagine that he would drop the story as the only 2 people who could confirm or deny the story have spoken. But he went ahead and put a story with a headline “Kaput… Ramu and Bachchan relationship over”. He gave all kinds of reasons, what he heard or imagined and incredibly at the end quoted mine and Amitji’s denials in small print.
Now why would he do that? It is simply because he knows mostly people read only the headline and even if they read the rest of it they will only remember the headline like always people remember the number of stars more than the reviews.
The proof of this is the number of media people who asked me about the rift taking their cue from that article and when I said ‘didn’t you read our denials at the end?’ they grudgingly said ‘yes’ almost as if given a choice they will believe the rift part of it than the denial because the rift is news and it will help fill pages, web-space and TV footage whereas the closeness of me and Amitji will be expected and hence boring. So the logic is if so many media people and film industry people can have a field day discussing, speculating and getting entertained on it, the irritant it will cause to just 2 people, me and Amitji, can be ignored in the larger interest of making fools out of the common people.
Similarly a report mentioning a war between me and Karan Johar appeared where Subash K Jha the reporter claimed that he has seen me lashing out at Karan on my blog. Now even a dim nitwit can see that I was joking and making fun of everything and most of all myself in that blog post. It’s not that the reporter can’t see it but he will choose not to see it as he wants to take out only what suits his own agenda.
Another interesting part of the media is the difference between the Mumbai media and the media elsewhere. It’s primarily because the most of the Mumbai media hobnobs and rubs shoulders with the film people.
The film people out of their fear and greed and in order to use the media people open their doors to the media people and almost become informants to the media about the rest of their colleagues in the industry. So the media kind of looses its primary objective and tends to get embroiled in the camp culture of the industry.
An outcome of this rubbing shoulders with film people, results in the journalists stepping beyond their job responsibilities.
While Khalid Mohammed initially in his position with Times of India and his supposed influence over the Filmfare awards wanted to use actors and technicians to make his classics, they all primarily obliged in fear of getting bad reviews and the greed of getting awards. He openly uses his position in the newspaper to write articles and bitchy pieces against several people who he wants to settle his personal scores with and on top of that he brags about it to all. It beats me how the management of those papers can’t see this. Today he can’t do it that much as Hindustan Times does not carry the same weight as TOI. It might be a good idea for him to convince HT to start HT Awards for him to be able to be back in business.
Subhas K. Jha has a unique trait of calling up film people whenever they are in a low like just after a flop. He will call them with soothing words and gives them a shoulder to cry on. He gives and takes information from various film people and passes it on to all concerned. Most in Bollywood trust him more than the journalists who stay in Mumbai because he stays in Patna and he is a voice on the phone. So they feel safer confiding in him as he is far away, and imagine that what they tell him won’t come back here.
The media elsewhere since it does not have that much of access to the film people is relatively unbiased and comparatively has much more integrity. Another big problem is that we all film people believe that 3 or 4 papers in Mumbai represent the whole country for the simple reason that we get only them into our homes. On a tour to 5 to 6 towns it came as a revelation to me and how much of a frog in the well I was when I realized every town in the country has its own media and I found far superior journalists there. I don’t think it’s because they are necessarily better journalists but I think it’s because they live in a relatively far less polluted atmosphere.
On the brighter side, I don’t think both us film folk and the media are all that bad because after all the pressures and the frustrations we go through, the least we are doing is entertaining the people in one way or the other. Whether it’s a lie or a truth or half-lie, what is the big deal? If the common man’s interest is in knowing who slept with whom? And who slapped whom? The media will supply it and us film industry folk will supply it to the media. I think it’s a fantastic threesome.
I want to sum up this article by taking the line from “Company” which best describes both us film folks and the media. “Yeh bas hamare dhande ki jaath hai.”
P.S:- I am just on the verge of finishing a script I am working on about the functioning and psychology of media. So far you have seen the media exposing things and now I want to expose the media in all its naked glory. I promise you that it will be one fucking hell of a strip tease. Cheers!