Murmurs against the unethical practice followed by some media houses, of taking money for news without disclosing to the readers that it is paid-for, have now found a strong baritone. That of the legendary actor Amitabh Bachchan.
Speaking exclusively to HT City while in the Capital to promote his upcoming flick Rann, where he plays a media baron, Bachchan minced no words in calling the paid-news-syndrome, a malpractice. “The issue was brought up by a hard-hitting column I read on the subject by Rajdeep Sardesai in Hindustan Times. I rang him up to say that he’s done a brave act by speaking out against this very wrong practice. I want a debate around this. I say, if you’ve taken money to carry some news and you disclose it to the public, it is still okay. But presenting it in the garb of news without telling people will kill the faith they have in media.”
Bachchan added, “Media is the conscience of the nation. Media is also a business. Do you compromise with your conscience at times to keep your business going? Or do you compromise with your business to keep your conscience alive. That’s really the war.” Asked if media bashing has become fashionable, particularly after Paa and now Rann, he clarified, “Rest assured we are not out to take pot shots at anyone. If we had to show how the media functions, we would make a documentary, why would we make a film? The film is about poetic justice.”
He denies reports that his character is modelled after a prominent news anchor. “I didn’t need to get inspired by any particular person. There are four hundred channels out there running 24 hours. You can just pick up bits and pieces from anywhere.” Accused often of having a strong bias against media, Bachchan took pains to clarify that his personal views on media have nothing to do with the movie. “My views are not connected to the film. Director Ram Gopal Varma thought that the use or misuse of the immense power that media wields, was a good subject to follow and the outcome is his vision.”
No TV for Ash
Bachchan’s also looking forward to son Abhishek’s TV debut. “Abhishek’s show Bingo is fun. I shall be on its first episode.” Asked if bahu Aishwarya is also planning to do a TV show, he says, “She has no such plans.”
Surprised at reports suggesting he’s contemplating retirement after receiving a recent Lifetime Achievement Award, the 67-years and 184-film-old actor said, “Really? Where have I said that? I must’ve got over 15 lifetime achievement awards by now.” He adds with a sigh, “Now if that’s an indication I should retire, I guess it shall happen soon. It has to happen.”