Monday, June 05, 2006

Funny Fanna

"When celebrities speak they must take a prepared punchline from those whom they seek to represent" sounds ridiculous to you ?? me too. But thats exactly what one of our rather intellectually bent media persons would want us to believe.

I am refering to a talk show we the people telecaseted on NDTV on 4th June. Brakha dutt as always was good and could collect a variety of interesting and informed panelists on the discussions. The context was celebrities involvement in issues of public interest. Obviously it erupts out the reaction in Gujarat on Aamir's film Fanna. Thankfully she also kept the discussion on course by discussing neither the film "Fanna" nor the "Narmad Bachoo Andolan" and kept the discussion squarely on the issue of celebrity endorsing issues and implications thereof.

Apart from the usual points about the fact that in a democracy everyone has a right to say what he or she feels about, and that the reaction to aamir's statements in Gujarat are obviously wrong. Almost all in the group seemed to agree with that. However two voices had some interesting points to make. The two voices were none other than Tavleen singh and Nalini Singh.
Nalini made the point that - celebrities need to appreciate that they carry great influence over the public and so they should be cautious about what they say on issues on which they know little about. Not much to disagree here but then to my surprise she ended up suggesting this - "see when Amitabh and Sharukh were given the line - Do boond Jindagi Ke (Two drops of life) - it worked just great for the polio campaign. Thats because - they did not need to know much about polio virus or the disease. Someone worked for weeks - may be a month and came up with lines that they could communicate well to people. Thats an effective way to take a informed and right thing to people." The message - Don't just go out there and speak soemthing that can affect such a large number of people, just like that.

Thankfully someone in the audience was moved enough to ask her point blank - "Does Nalini mean that what celebrities should do is utter prepared lines but never say what they feel in their own words? I am really confused is this waht she means".

Nalini - a professional as she is, remained composed and yet fiddled with words suggesting that this is like distorting what she said and went on to unconvincingly explain that what she meant was that there are so many crores of people out there who might feel and get affected by what the celbrities say and what I am saying is...........blah!!

And then there was the inimitable tavleen singh, columnist - who points out that celebrities need to be responsible for their statements. Sure, not many would disagree with her on that but then what do you mean by responsibility? she says something to the effect - if you have stuck your neck out stick with it. Specifically, in the context of Fanna controvesy - she is unhappy that aamir and company visited for half a day and made those, now historical, statements. According to her celebrities should own it up for long and be consistent about it. She took example of Shabana accepting an award from the world Economic forum when she had already raised her voice against them in a different context.

Well - what does one say. A good TV anchor has to find conflicting voices to bring to her show a variety of opinions. And some in media carve their presence by ensuring that they write or say which is different if not exactly opposite to what media is printing reams on. Both Nalini and Tavleen belong to that brand, whom I admire because they do bring some genuine nuances of the issue. But frankly sometimes this effort stretches into either trivialities or sometimes simply nowhere. Tavleen's issue though right are at the wrong time and hence belong to the former category while nalini belongs to the latter. An entire hour of time wasted on explaining to those two the simple irrelevance of their ideas in the current context - is a huge waste.