The worst puns in the world were playing on the news channels over the last few days and the sole reason was one Jarnail Singh who gently lobbed a sports shoe at Home Minister P. Chidambaram. We saw the shoe being thrown from every angle, in slow motion, with freezes, the works. Then we saw close-ups of the shoe sitting on a carpet.
One Hindi TV news channel showed us the visual of the shoe with the words “joota” written below (suppose nobody got it?). Maybe they should have had a hand repeatedly jabbing at the joota for full clarification, in case some viewers still had any doubts as to the identity of the object. (Useful suggestion: the word ‘joota’ could have flashed on the screen like the words ‘Breaking News’ flash every five minutes on our news channels; methinks a straightforward caption-type super saying ‘joota’ was not enough). Indeed, I’m surprised the channel didn’t tap the full potential of the joota. Think about it. They could have had an SMS quiz for viewers: “Can you identify the make of the joota? If you can, please type the following numbers-space-make of joota and SMS it to us. Lucky winners will get to have dinner with Jarnail Singh or get to throw a joota of their choice at a person of their choice.”
Clearly the Dainik Jagran journalist (about whom we now know more than we do about P. Chidambaram; do we know the kind of footwear the Home Minister favours, for instance?) has started a hot new trend. Emboldened by his instant celebrity-hood (not to mention the thousands of Sikh organisations offering him lakhs of rupees), many other latent shoe-throwers have found the courage to fling their footwear at netas. On Friday, a determined-looking old man flung his shoe at another Congress politician, Navin Jindal. But I was disappointed to see that TV channels didn’t give this shoe-thrower the kind of comprehensive coverage they gave Jarnail Singh. It’s a bit discriminatory; all shoe-throwers should be treated equally.
The fallout of the shoe-throwing incident was that Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar got thrown out of the election fray by their party. Tytler appeared on all the channels, muttering darkly about political conspiracies and also vehemently reiterating his innocence.
What will catch the imagination of the news channels next? I have no idea, but I do know what caught their imagination a few days ago. Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan came together on one platform, along with a whole lot of other Bollywood heavyweights like Ronnie Screwvala and Karan Johar, to present the producers’ case against multiplexes. I watched the coverage on a couple of channels, like Headlines Today, and by the end of it, I knew all about the SRK-Aamir jhagda, their body language during the press conference, what they said to each other, what they said about each other, what they should have said but didn’t, whether they’d actually kissed and made up or not… in short, I knew everything except what the press conference was for. What was the fight with the multiplexes all about? What did SRK-Aamir and the other producers (reduced to props in the background) really want? What did the multiplexes want? No answers. But I can tell you that SRK and Aamir scribbled notes to each other and that SRK said that Aamir likes to have meetings at midnight.
And finally. The glam event of the week was the Miss India pageant (telecast on Sony). I watched it intermittently (didn’t have the energy to watch the entire show which went on for several hours). But I saw enough — I watched, for instance, the crowning of Miss Beautiful Smile and Miss Beautiful Heart and Miss Agile (no, I have no idea what they meant), saw the girls pirouette on the stage in a variety of designer garments (one set looked like a collection of baby doll nighties) and was grateful none of them could any longer declare that their dream was to work with Mother Teresa.