Did any of us hope that the frenzied reporting on the Sania Mirza-Shoaib Malik shaadi would cease in the wake of the massacre of CRPF jawans by Naxalites? If we did, we hoped in vain. Even on Wednesday afternoon, many of the news channels — particularly the Hindi news channels — were behaving as if it was the biggest story of the year.
We were repeatedly shown blurred glimpses of Shoaib and Sania (seen through a half-closed door at Sania's home), making us feel like guilty voyeurs (not that any of us saw anything we shouldn't have — Shoaib went in, we saw a glimpse of Sania and then the door shut. (Wow! Sensational). Fashion designers Shantanu and Nikhil held forth on Sania's wedding outfit and how it would have four lakh crystals on it (how on earth will the poor thing sit?) We were given the full menu for the Reception (if you're interested, the dessert will have Double ka Meetha and Khubani ka Meetha).
Going by the non-stop coverage and the exhaustive reporting on the most intricate of details, I think the news channels should also tell us a few other things, such as: (a) the crockery that will be used at the Reception (b) the entire guest list, and also the definitive list of people who will not be invited — the Siddiqui family perhaps? (c) what sort of socks will Shoaib wear? (d) and what about his brother – what socks will he wear to the Reception? The poor fellow has been quite ignored. We saw him at the airport in Lahore, busy chewing gum, and then we saw him arriving in India, but not much after that — he's really being done out of his share of the spotlight (e) What car will the happy couple use to arrive at the venue? (f) And so on.
In between all this was the noisy, chaotic press conference where it was announced that Shoaib Malik was going to divorce Ayesha Siddiqui and pay her Rs 15,000 over three months. Here, 'leaders' of the community and family friends played a starring role, and responded to those reporters who shouted the loudest/thrust their mikes the fastest and closest to their faces.
My complaint is not that the Sania-Shoaib (or Shoania, as some channels are calling them) wedding is being covered on TV. My complaint is about why we're being carpet bombed in this shrill manner; and why, even after a tragedy of the magnitude of the Dantewada massacre, we are still being carpet bombed so hysterically and persistently.
It's not as if the Dantewada killings didn't get coverage — they did. The most moving visuals were of the long row of coffins and the neat labels pasted on each, giving the jawan's name and where he was from. Stories about the devastated, grieving families also made it to the news channels — but this is not exceptional. This is what you would expect every channel to do in any case — and more. But Sania and Shoaib stubbornly refused to leave our TV screens.
And finally. I've been seeing some of the IPL matches off and on, but I don't know if I've seen more cricket or more ads. The instant a batsman gets out or scores a four or six, there's an ad break. And because there's clearly not enough time to show all the ads, the last ad often ends mid-way. Since Set Max has paid a minor (not that minor, actually) fortune for the rights to screen the IPL matches, I suppose they have to recover their money. Hence the deluge. But for most of us viewers who don't particularly care, it's not fun.