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Witerati | Kangana-Hrithik TV war: For whom the TRP rolls

If Kangana scored Round 1 with ‘Aap ki Adalat’, Round 2 saw Hrithik taking centre stage on news hour’s “Baap” ki adalat.

columns Updated: Oct 15, 2017 13:54 IST
Chetna Keer
Chetna Keer
Hindustan Times
Hrithik Roshan,Kangana-Hrithik war,Arnab Goswami
Hrithik Roshan and Kangana Ranaut starred together in Kites and Krrish 3.

Hark back to schooldays. At an inter-school declamation contest, picture a schoolboy speechless on stage figuring out his counter-argument, after the girl from a rival school reels off her lines with pizzazz. As the crowd hoots, presto, from behind the scenes the belligerent schoolmaster plays prompter. Voila, the boy finds his voice.

Cut to the current stage that TV is. In an akin scenario, it was in prime-time India’s fabled amplifier-advantaged loudmouth Arnab Goswami that Hrithik Roshan found the pugnacious prompter programmed to get silences shattered.

Perhaps, it wasn’t so much breaking the silence as it was being shamed into speaking, what with trolls taunting Hrithik for waiting for Papa Roshan or ex-wife to fight his battle.

With Republic TV’s Hrithik coup, the war of the exes ‘n’ sexes amplified into a war of the TRPs and a war of hashtags, reportedly translating into 10k or so tweets for #HrithikSpeaksToArnab. (Wonder if the shrillness of our Oriental Ex-files found some resonance in the US War of the Exes -- First lady vs First Wife -- playing the Trump card?)

Tamasha TV staged the Theatre of the Absurd thrice over, and how!

First, the ‘trial by media’ template raced into overdrive. If Kangana scored Round 1 with ‘Aap ki Adalat’, Round 2 saw Hrithik taking centre stage on news hour’s “Baap” ki adalat. Prime time seemed so starved of meaningful narratives that Arnab & Co peddled explicit Ex-files with similar gravitas as a David Muir or Harris Faulkner deconstructing the Las Vegas attack. The war of the ex-posés was dissected as if it were the war of the roses.

The TRP wars triggered telling tweets: “Hrithik should have outsourced this interview to Sh Rajdeep Sardesai. He would have implicated Kangana in the 2002 riots!” or “Republic TV should change its name to Kandha TV.”

Secondly, what made it Theatre of the Absurd was the “victim” paradigm driving this ‘trial by media’ template. Channels warred over portraiture of their protagonist as victim. Arnab’s portraiture, scripting the saga a la ‘Darr’ (in reverse) or ‘Obsessed’, imbued Hrithik with shades of a Shakespearean tragic hero, replete with hamartia — silently suffering stalking. In contrast was Barkha Dutt’s or ‘Aap ki Adalat’s’ portraiture of Kangana, more as a spunky survivor than victim.

The million-dollar question: Was Hrithik’s Pope-like poise proof of innocence; or Kangana’s tempestuous temptress typecasting proclamation of guilt? Does Hrithik’s holier-than-thou narrative camouflage an embedded subplot to reunite with ex-wife (who’s ex-factor is that she divorced Hrithik despite describing him a “good soul” and then allegedly couldn’t perhaps officially unite with rumoured married (ex?)boyfriend, though that’s another story), wherein Hrithik now wants to paint ‘n’ project past flirtatious interludes, even if only at workplace, as stalking?

This victim stereotyping inspired Tweeple potshots plenty, “Next time me has a spat with spouse, I shall speak to #Arnab and ask the nation: whose side you are on?”

Thirdly, this Theatre of the Absurd gave “isms” their day out on Tamasha TV, riding righteously regurgitating vocal chords — feminism to anti-feminism, sexism to voyeurism, legalism to nepotism. The one “ism” missing but desperately needed for comic relief was “Sidhu-ism”!

Sexism stood ingrained in this narrative’s paradoxes: Hrithik treaded the moral high ground of not naming the lady, yet Kangana was virtually “disrobed” as Tamasha TV peddled her personal emails made public by “dignified” dad-of-two Hrithik.

Weren’t nepotism-favouritism inherent in the irony that KJo, Sonam Kapoor & Co, who are opposing Kangana, had gloatingly toasted Deepika Padukone on ‘Koffee with Karan’ for her daring digs about gifting c*ndo*s to ex-factor Ranbir Kapoor, after he ditched Dips?!!

But Ranbir showed grace and hadn’t retaliated by complaining Deepika was hounding him or depicting her deranged. Rather, Ranbir appeased the aggrieved lady by teasingly touching Deepika’s feet at an awards function!

That’s the mark of a man — instead of facing hundred studio cameras preprogrammed to project the man holier than thou, a real man shows guts ‘n’ grace to face the hurt woman, with a simple sorry, perhaps.

Had Hrithik emulated “Rockstar” Kapoor, Tweeple may have been spared this voyeuristic Theatre of the A(ha)bsurd!

The author can be contacted at chetnabanerjee@gmail.com

(Views expressed are personal)

First Published: Oct 14, 2017 20:44 IST