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The discovery of Mayawatiji’s ‘ujjwal’ side

india Updated: May 26, 2007 03:02 IST
Poonam Saxena
Poonam Saxena
Hindustan Times
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Did you know that Mayawati sits at her desk every day in the early hours of the morning and studiously writes down her thoughts on how to take her ‘movement’ further in UP? And did you know that she likes wearing pink on special occasions (like her swearing-in) because it is an ujjwal (bright) colour? Or that she likes nature but has no time for films or filmstars? These were some of the, er, fascinating revelations in Mayawati Unplugged — an interview with UP’s new chief minister (NDTV). As to the more serious issues of criminals in her party or corruption charges against her, Behenji got away with standard answers like “no one will be spared” and “my opponents are trying to frame me”.

When it comes to tough interviews with politicians, I still maintain that there are few people to match Karan Thapar. His aggressive, inquisitorial, I’m-not-going-to-let-you-get-away manner may put off some viewers (not to mention some of the persons being interviewed, remember Ram Jethmalani foaming at the mouth?), but Thapar is at his remorseless best when he’s interviewing (interrogating?) netas. (But, as I’ve said often enough before, why does he leave all that aggression outside the door when he goes to interview people from across the border?)

Shootout At Lokhandwala was all over our TV screens the night before the film released — both the real shootout and the reel one. For most of Thursday night primetime, Aaj Tak and Headlines Today went with their exclusive story, a phone interview with underworld don Ijaz Lakdawala, who claimed that it wasn’t a shootout at all but a ‘fake’ encounter (he said gangster Maya Dolas was shot in cold blood by the police).

Then Lakdawala talked about all sorts of other things. Like the fact that he has three people on his hit list currently — Himesh Reshammiya, Raj Kumar Santoshi and Firoz Nadiadwala. He also added that he never made extortion calls to people’s homes (he only called his victims during office hours). And being such a gentleman, he didn’t make extortion calls to actresses either (“poor things, they’re working hard and making a living”). And according to correspondent Shishir Joshi, during the phone conversation with Aaj Tak, Lakdawala was very polite (he said a lot of “hope I’m not disturbing you”, and “thank you” and “please” and “sir”). Since the gentleman don himself called up the channel and chose to speak on the eve of the film’s release, he also appears to have the makings of an excellent publicist.

From the real shootout, we moved to the reel shootout — at the same time as the Lakdawala story was being played out on Aaj Tak and Headlines Today, Night Out (NDTV 24x7) and Raat Baki (NDTV India) were covering the Mumbai premiere of Shootout At Lokhandwala. Both shows telecast some archival footage of the actual shootout (in the early Nineties), which was far more interesting than the rest of the show. Because otherwise, in Night Out, pretty much all we saw was Anisha Baig on the screen, smiling beatifically and talking ceaselessly to another NDTV anchor (who was somewhere else in the city, covering the Cheeni Kum premiere).

When I saw the grotesque visuals of some Talwar baba standing on little children and brandishing a sword, I thought I had tuned into Zee TV, the channel perpetually in search of dhongi babas. But it was IBN 7 that had found this weirdo in Vaishali (in Bihar). The weirdo claimed to cure children of god knows what by walking on them. After the channel ran their baba story, the baba promptly ran away and police officials dutifully came on camera, thanking the channel for having exposed him and promising that they would definitely catch him. I am all for news channels exposing dhongi babas in every nook and cranny of India, but do we have to be shown those revolting visuals again and again and again?

And finally. Away from all the nonsense we see so much of on news channels, it was good to see NDTV’s campaign against the Delhi Municipal Corporation’s decision to impose a ban on roadside cooking in Delhi. I hope they keep at it.

poonamsaxena@hindustantimes.com