National Journalism Day: When Bollywood met journalism

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Cinema

November 17, 2020

/ By / New Delhi

National Journalism Day: When Bollywood met journalism

Peepli Live showcased the system and media's apathy to such farer suicides in the country

Bollywood has a few films that show the strength of ethical journalism and how its misuse can lead to total chaos.

India has recently been witnessed an ugly tussle between its biggest film industry, Bollywood, and some of the mainstream television news channels. A fight that grabbed the central stage on all social media platforms and common people’s drawing-room via TV, for the past few months, is likely to be at the centre of further discourses.

“While this love-hate relationship between Bollywood and journalism is not new, one can argue that it has reached an all-time low. As a result, it will not only hamper the engagement between the two but also bring down the quality of content Bollywood has been producing when the two came together on screen,” Anupam Kant, a Delhi based filmmaker and critic, told Media India Group.

Kant refers to many films that have either portrayed the power of ethical journalism or made a satire of journalism that works without. On the occasion of National Journalism Day, here are a few films that appreciate journalism as well as others that raise questions about the degradation of the profession.

Peepli Live (2010)

Peepli Live is a satire on media

Farmer suicides are a grim reality of India and the film showcased the system’s apathy to such happenings. It also sheds light about how the television media manipulates a situation in search of higher ratings. While the agenda of the media gets served, the issue they focus their limelight on seldom gets resolved. The issue is very well portrayed on screen in Anusha Rizvi’s Peepli Live, starring Omkar Das Manikpuri and Raghubir Yadav in lead roles and Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Naseeruddin Shah in supporting roles.

Story revolves around two brothers Natha (Omkar Das Manikpuri) and Budhiya (Raghubir Yadav), who are slackers and drunkards with a large loan on their heads. They are without means to pay the loan and spend all their free time getting drunk. They come to know that the government pays huge compensation to the family if a farmer commits suicide. As they are discussing this, a local reporter overhears them and reports it.

It soon becomes national news and two rival news channels descend on their village to cover the suicide. It becomes a media circus of sorts. The political parties get involved too. Everyone tries to take advantage of the situation and Natha, who has become an unwilling celebrity, starts to fear for his life. While the film ends on a very grim note, there have been very few Bollywood movies of such calibre that have fearlessly portrayed the ugly side of irresponsible journalism.

Page 3 (2005)

Page 3 portrays that real news never gets written

Madhur Bhandarkar directed and Konkona Sen Sharma, Atul Kulkarni & Boman Irani starrer film, Page 3, broughtout the seedier side of both page 3 journalism as well as the mainstream reporting.

Madhavi Sharma (Konkona Sen Sharma) is a young journalist, who arrives in Mumbai looking for a job. She is hired by a newspaper editor Deepak Suri (Boman Irani) and is assigned the task of reporting on celebrity news, writing articles for Page 3. Reputed crime journalist, Vinayak Mane (Atul Kulkarni) is told to mentor her. They witness a bomb blast in the city and Madhavi is shocked by the antipathy shown by the authorities on the whole thing. This is but only a starting point of the tragedies throughout the plot of the film.

The film portrays that real news never gets written and showed a mirror to the society enjoying substandard journalism and what consequences it may have on individuals.

Tere Bin Laden (2010)

The film had come years before we knew the danger of fake news

The Abhishek Sharma directed Tere Bin Laden (2010) is a dark comedy which pointed out how the craze of breaking news makes the media forego editorial protocols. The film may have come years before we woke up to the very real danger of fake news, but it did point towards the risks involved and the ease with which it could be spread.

Ali Hassan (Ali Zafar) is an ambitious reporter with Danka TV, a downmarket local TV channel in Karachi, Pakistan. His dream is to make it big so he can earn enough money to settle in the USA. Through his own foolishness, he gets deported out of America. Later, he chances upon a lookalike of terror group Al Qaeda’s leader Osama Bin Laden, Noora (Pradhuman Singh). He makes a plan to make a fake video of Bin Laden.

With help from his travel agent’s assistant Zoya (Sugandha Garg) and a local radio jockey Qureshi (Rahul Singh) and his assistant Gul (Nikhil Ratnaparkhi), he fools Noora into dressing up like Bin Laden and makes a fake video. When he ‘leaks’ it, it creates a sensation among the American and Pakistani intelligence circles. The defence agencies of both countries hound Ali and Noora. After a long set of misadventures, they are both captured. To save the face of the Americans, Ali proposes to make another fake video where Bin Laden proposes a ceasefire. As a result, the American in charge of the operation gets promoted, and even Ali realises his American dream.

No One Killed Jessica (2011)

This film came as a surprise to most as one had expected the film to revolve around police investigation but turned out to be the story of a female journalist who stands her ground despite political pressures to suppress the case.

The film narrates the story of female journalist who stands her ground despite political & professional pressures

Director by Raj Kumar Gupta and with Rani Mukerji and Vidya Balan in its lead roles, The film is based on a real-life case of the murder of model, who also works as a serveuse, Jessica Lal and eventual processes that led to the culprit getting punishment.

This hard-hitting movie stars Vidya Balan as Jessica’s sister Sabrina, whereas Rani Mukerji’s character of Meera Gaity is inspired from the various TV news reporters following the case. Jessica (Myra Karn) refuses to serve three men after the last call. One of the men, Manish, played by a very young Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, who’s the son of a big-time politician, shoots her in the head in anger. Though there are dozens of eyewitnesses, no one comes forward as a witness as everyone is afraid of Manish’s political clout. In what could have been an open and shut case gets botched by the police and the judiciary.

While Sabrina loses all hope of ever getting justice for her sister, a news reporter Meera Gaity picks up the gauntlet. She starts investigating and is helped by Inspector N.K. (Rajesh Sharma), to gather evidence. Her reports start a mass outrage and the public demands a retrial. The case is fast-tracked, the police do their job properly this time and the accused gets sent to life imprisonment.

New Delhi Times (1986)

Romesh Sharma’s directorial debut, New Delhi Times fetched Shashi Kapoor and cinematographer Subrata Mitra their only National Awards besides the Indira Gandhi Award to the director for the Best First Film of a New Director.

In the plot of the film, Shashi Kapoor is the upright editor of a daily newspaper called New Delhi Times. The film depicts how, in the end, the two leading political parties – the Establishment and the Opposition, use him as an agency to get their work done but he does not suspect their motives or that he is being used as a pawn and in the end, both the parties join hands behind his back and he is made a scapegoat.

New Delhi Times is one of the highest-rated films based on journalism in Bollywood

Vikas Pande, the new editor who arrives in Delhi from Ghazipur in Uttar Pradesh to New Delhi, uncovers corruption, murder, and bribery in high office. When a politician is killed, a journalist discovers that a member of parliament had the man assassinated. More shocking news are revealed when this member of parliament it is learnt is an underworld gangster. As the editor digs deeper, the complicity of higher-placed politicians comes to the surface, which leads to riots in one town and an attempt to suppress his story.

Unfortunately, despite being one of the best rated film based on journalism in Bollywood, this hard-hitting political drama was hit equally hard by Indian distributors and television because they refused to take on the film for either theatrical release or television viewing.

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