Monday, August 27, 2007

It’s Breaking News: The Excitement Begins

My first film It's Breaking News is now ready and slated for release. The promos are out on internet and ETC channel. The movie should be out by the last week of September if everything goes well. The phrase 'if everything goes well' has suddenly assumed the importance of what the phrase 'other things being equal' would have in the life of an economist!

It has been a long wait for me and very hard toil for my brother, Vishal, who has directed the movie. He has been under immense pressure, making this film – at the age of 29 and no Godfather and a first timer producer to back him up. There have been moments of triumph and joy and also of pain and agony which were endured by all of us in the unit of the film.

News is something that we cannot run away from. It is everywhere and it touches every aspect of our life. The word NEWS, I have learnt as a child, is the acronym of North, East, West, South. Media, it is said, is the fourth pillar of democracy. So in India, Media is the fourth pillar of the world's largest democracy. 'The Fourth Estate' – political scientists have called it. It is the watchdog of liberty. It has the power to topple governments. Early nineties saw the advent of satellite television in India. The inevitable followed and India was taken over by a swarm of News channels in the last decade. It is in the last 3-4 years that we have been constantly hearing the term – 'sting operation'. One of the first (in)famous sting operations was carried out on the members of film industry, namely, Shakti Kapoor and Aman Verma by a reporter who went by the pseudonym, Ruchi. In 2005, Barkha Dutt, a director of NDTV, wrote an article in the Hindustan Times, questioning the ethics behind the sting operations which were appearing like congress grass. She has put up a very reasonable case noting that the place of sting operations in journalism is the same as the place of the Death Penalty in the Indian Penal Code – that it should be used in the 'rarest of the rare' cases. I tried very hard to find the copy of the article in the Hindustan Times archives but couldn't. Fortunately, it was still there on one of the news-servers. This is the link.

Vishal was most concerned with the irreverence and the twisted morality of the sting operations especially in the Jharkhand IG Natarajan Case. In the Shakti Kapoor case also you'll note that it was a hypothetical girl in a hypothetical situation, where she made the invitation. There was a widespread aversion to the manner in which the sting operation took place. In the India TV exposé of politicians having sex with call girls, I always felt that in the enthusiasm of catching the politicians, the channel was rather unfair in exposing the call girls too.

What we see on television is the face of the channel, philosophising and moralising. But underneath the moral policing lurks a most despicable greed for sensationalism.

It's Breaking News is a movie which unearths the story behind the sting operations. You have seen sting operations expose a thing or two… now here's a movie that exposes sting operations!