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The Broken News season 2 review: Sonali Bendre is the beating heart of this captivating, incongruous newsroom drama

ByDevansh Sharma
May 04, 2024 03:55 PM IST

The Broken News season 2 review: The new instalment of this newsroom drama strategically depicts clash of three voices – the left, the right, and the unbiased.

The Broken News season 2 review: It wasn't too long ago that we, the journalists, found a dream editor in Mohd. Zeeshan Ayyub's Imran Siddiqui in Hansal Mehta's crime drama Scoop last year. And now, we have Sonali Bendre's Amina Qureshi in Vinay Waikul's newsroom drama. She was a surprise in season 1, released a couple of years ago. But she's a revelation in the new season. She takes her role of an unbiased, idealistic journalist to a whole new level, and in the process, becomes the beating heart of this show.

The Broken News season 2 review: Sonali Bendre plays an unbiased journalist in the ZEE5 show

(Also Read – Sonali Bendre recalls earlier linkups and gossips ‘would be out there’ only to promote a film: ‘Actors had no choice’)

Clash of voices

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Season 2 kicks off exactly where the first one ended – Radha Bhargava (Shriya Pilgaonkar) of the news channel Awaz Bharti is in jail after a media campaign against her by her rival Deepankar Sanyal (Jaideep Ahlawat), the editor-in-chief of Josh 24*7, the leading right-wing news channel. Ameena, editor-in-chief of Awaz Bharti, is trying her best to get her colleague out of jail. As the plot progresses, there's a clash of not two, but three voices – the left (or more like the anti-right in Radha), the right (Deepankar), and the ideal, the unbiased, the centre (Ameena).

This three-way approach is a valid route to approach a newsroom drama set in the Indian mainstream media ecosystem. In the TRP and ego wars between the far right and the left, journalism loses its objectivity, the holy grail that the profession inherently swears upon. But Ameena, the last of that school of journalism, fights a losing battle – against TRPs, against instant gratification, against the system, and against her own colleagues who've chosen their sides. Yet, Sonali instils so much integrity, simplicity, and resolve in her demeanour that you end up rooting for her all along.

Sonali Bendre plays Ameena Qureshi in The Broken News

There's a meta joke about her becoming a top heroine 20 years ago, which takes you back to some mediocre films she was a part of back in the 1990s. But watching her essay an author-backed role with a spine of steel makes you wonder if Bollywood never gave Sonali her due. Or maybe she's come into her own now, also having gone through a life-altering cancer bout. Nonetheless, we're glad that she's at the stage of life and career that she's in now – and the courage, determination, and humility of Sonali Bendre infiltrate seamlessly into Ameena Qureshi.

Shriya Pilgaonkar and Jaideep Ahlawat get steeper arcs. A traumatic incident in the prison leaves Radha broken and desperate for revenge. Her lens gets stained by retribution as she pursues her agenda in every story that comes across. It's a difficult role; Radha goes all OTT, her rival's pitch that she's despised all her career. She lies not only to her audience and colleagues, but also herself. She plays the victim card and becomes the aggressor, as and when convenient. Shriya could've easily gone overboard – and she does, but rarely loses the grip on the audience. Instead of consistently justifying her actions, she enters that murky territory and comes across as despicable. But she gets a rousing redemption, that she ensures is served with the right effect and intent.

Sonali Bendre and Shriya Pilgaonkar in The Broken News season 2

Jaideep Ahlawat is dependably reliable, and gets a few more shades to toss into his otherwise one-note character. Deepankar is happier and more clear-headed this season, and Jaideep ably throws light on that side with slightly wider grins, longer pauses, and more moisture in his eyes. We also see Deepankar's impact on the next crop of journalists – Rihana (Aishwarya Chaudhary) inherits his exaggerated anchoring style and sensationalist news filter without paying any heed to ethics that he still guards with all his might. On the other hand, there's Anuj (Taaruk Raina), who keeps his conscience clean in the cesspool of a newsroom, and ends up reminding Deepankar of the young, idealistic journalist he once was.

The Morning Show of India?

In many ways, season 2 of The Broken News plays out like season 3 of Apple TV's Emmy Award-winning newsroom drama The Morning Show. There's competition within the industry – between networks and even between colleagues in the same organisation – which allows the politicians and the business elite to keep playing divide and rule. Like the American show, The Morning Show also incorporates the most recent bits from the discourse, like government surveillance, the nexus between Bollywood and drugs, and an alleged celebrity suicide being teased as an orchestrated murder.

Jaideep Ahlawat plays Deepankar Sanyal in The Broken News

But Vinay Vaikul and the writers competently adapt the show to the Indian media ecosystem. I laughed out loud when a character clarified a murder is, in fact, a suicide, to which his colleague responded, "Itne negative kyun ho rahe ho? Murder bhi toh ho sakta hai? (Why are you getting so negative? It can be a murder as well.) Or the glint in the eyes of the management and young blood of a primetime TV channel when they find out that a pregnant woman died because of an obstruction caused by the rally of the opposition leader. "That's bad, na?" they say, impatient to get their hands dirty with this scoop.

Besides scouring for negative news to sell sensationalism on TV, The Broken News also gets the pitch (or the noise) of a contemporary news channel right. News anchors don't talk – they shout. They don't address the audience – their eyes are set on the competition when they dole out the news. That's relevant for the digital news age when publications scan their competition to replicate news instead of stepping into the field to gather first-hand scoops. Also, growing tech giants leverage this digital dissemination to lend credibility to the news they want to fan the flames of. There was Jon Hamm in The Morning Show; there's Akshay Oberoi (with an American accent and a boy band goatee) in The Broken News.

Once the Ameena Qureshi modus operandi doesn't fetch the desired results, Radha and her associates resort to the growing appetite for fake news and sensationalism to arrive at the truth. The show is also guilty of that – despite noble intent, it often capitalises on the very evils it aims to lambast in order to hammer home its point. There's emotional manipulation, hyperbole, self-contradiction, and misinformation – everything that's wrong with news media today. At the end of the day, The Broken News is a fiction show, and not a news channel. So it can get away with all that, but still quite rich from a narrative that often invokes Mahatma Gandhi and Faiz Ahmed Faiz's Bol Ke Lab Azad Hain Tere.

The Broken News season 2 is now streaming on ZEE5.

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