Aug 26, 2013

The World That Week

After about a year or so of telly-abstinence, I have once again begun watching the news on TV, that too at that traditional hour between 9-10 pm. Things really are the same: the conflicts of Afghanistan, global recessionary trends, Indian film awards, and young Sachin Tendulkar's plans for the summer.

Yes, young Sachin.

I have, you see, stumbled upon the fact that at 9 pm each weekday, NDTV Profit airs episodes of "The World This Week", that 90s show. Mercifully, there are still those of you old enough to remember a time when news studios were not like the set of Hollywood Squares and when someone read out the news to you instead of behaving as if they missed those days of quoting prices on the floor of the BSE. Right into your malleus-incus-stapes. 

So yes, I have been watching news from around the world; only that it is from two decades ago (they are currently in 1992 with the Barcelona Olympics around the corner). It is instructive to note illustrations of both "plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose" as well as "plus ça change, +1 change". Afghanistan stays rocky, Scotland is still looking for independence, the Tories are back in power. But there is no Gabby Sabatini, Narasimha Rao is forgotten, and terrorism is prime-time news every week. 

"The World This Week" was anchored calmly and patiently by the psephologist-turned-mediaman Prannoy Roy, whom history will now only recall as having unleashed upon the us the likes of Barkha Dutt, Rajdeep Sardesai, and He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named-BUT-SHOUTED-OUT-WITH-EXTREME-OUTRAGE-NOT-TO-MENTION-PREJUDICE. There was the bearded special correspondent Appan Menon, whose preferred style of letting his interviewees say everything would soon be rejected by every media school's syllabus in the last decade. TWTW was an example of how news could be interesting, even if it was about the elections in France or South Africa, and relevant, with reports on the then emerging AIDS epidemic or rap music from the US. Where breadth of coverage didn't mean sacrificing depth, and listening to the news just once a week meant a chance to let the substantive events surface above the knee-jerk flavour of the day.

This may be the nostalgic rumblings of a Doordarshan-era apologist who forgets that then, news could often be staid and unimaginative, or worse, dangerously status quoist and propagandist. But programmes such as TWTW and production houses such as NDTV showed us the light at the end of the TV camera and laid the foundations for TV news media as we know it today. If they turned me on TV, their successors have sadly turned me and the telly off at 9.

But not any more. Tune in to TWTW: the good thing is you know how most things are going to turn out, so there are no worries. You can see a somewhat random collection of sports clips from alpine skiing and Italian Serie A action, and the occasional entertainment hilarity such as the inaugural "Natraj Awards", billed as India's answer to the Oscars. You can live in the past with the assurance that you made it to the future despite the news.

And for once, the nation should demand to know how.

5 comments:

Upasna Kakroo said...

haha! so funny to end it so. I have never brought myself to hear the last line in reality. Even the ads/ video links all over the place are an overkill.

Upasna at Someplace Else

Kartick Vaddadi said...

You clearly have a skill for writing, Ramanand. This is better than 99 of 100 things posted on Facebook.

Ramanand J said...

Heh, thanks Kartik.

Santosh Kumar T K said...

I just happened to catch the nearly delightful trailer of The Lunchbox.

Dear the trailer of The Lunchbox, meet Ramanand's "The World That Week."


If only endings like "... you made it to the future despite the news," won awards, you'd bag your Natraj Lifetime achievement, Ramanand!

But for that we'd have to travel back in time. You just initiated it. So let's keep going.

Beautiful!

Ramanand J said...

Heh, thanks. Looking forward to The Lunchbox too.