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Television’s ready rabble rousers

Is there any way to blank out groups like the Shiv Sena and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) from our TV screens? Just about anything has to happen and they instantly jump in with their own two bits. Poonam Saxena elaborates.

tv Updated: Apr 02, 2010 21:28 IST
Poonam Saxena

Is there any way to blank out groups like the Shiv Sena and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) from our TV screens? Just about anything has to happen and they instantly jump in with their own two bits. If their two bits made even two bits of sense, I would be happy to see them and hear them on TV. But alas, that’s not the case.

Sania Mirza’s impending wedding to Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik is the latest case in point. Someone called Vinod Bansal, apparently the media-in-charge of the VHP (oh boy, do they need help!), appeared on Headlines Today, saying that Sania had hurt the sentiments of her countrymen by her decision. Did he conduct a door-to-door survey of his countrymen (and countrywomen)? Just speaking to VHP-men (or VHP-women) is not enough, Mr Media-in-charge. Tennis player Sanaa Bhambri, who was also in the studio, looked absolutely aghast as he prattled on inarticulately.

(Incidentally, in reply to a query about whether he’d had a girlfriend — after all, everyone has a past — Mr Bansal piously declared that he’d never had a girlfriend in his life and the only such female was his lawfully wedded wife. “It is not in our tradition,” he declared virtuously. Clearly a man not very well versed in Hindu mythology).

The channel also showed us some alleged ‘protests’ by the Bajrang Dal in Hyderabad. It looked like a ragtag bunch of ten or 12 saffron-clad men who had gathered in front of a TV camera and the minute the camera was switched on, mechanically begun raising their fists in the air and making some protest-type noises.

Not to be outdone, Sanjay Raut of the Shiv Sena also spread like a rash on our news channels, raving and ranting about how Sania had become a Pakistani now and should not play for India any longer. No doubt he was taking his cue from his boss who must be the busiest edit writer in the entire country. Writing in his newspaper, Bal Thackeray proclaimed that Sania should have married an Indian. Now I’m just waiting for Raj Thackeray to join the bandwagon and angrily demand why Sania isn’t marrying a Marathi manoos.

There was no dearth of deluded voices from across the border too (“Sania should now play tennis for Pakistan, Sania should coach the Pakistani tennis team” etc).

This entire drama played out on our TV sets with a kind of tired predictability. The moment Sania announced her decision to marry Shoaib Malik, even someone with one grey cell could have foreseen what would happen — (a) all the bigots would immediately come crawling out of the woodwork, knowing that they would find obliging TV crews waiting for them outside (b) all the TV crews on their part would go rushing out of their studios to these bigots to ask them their views on the Sania-Shoaib wedding, knowing that they would get a ready-made controversy on a platter. (Helping both parties along the way is of course, Shoaib’s controversial first ‘marriage,’ which is the other part of the Sania-Shoaib Shaadi Ki Kahani, currently playing on your TV set).

And finally. It’s nice to see that Samir Kochhar has got rid of those kiss curls on his forehead (IPL, Set Max), — one can finally actually concentrate on what he’s saying (which is a good thing, because he has an easy, confident manner). I wish I could say the same for Navjot Singh Sidhu’s wardrobe too but seeing him in a bright magenta turban and matching tie one day and a baby pink turban and matching tie the very next day was enough to make me one go quite pale.