‘Indian TV is like nautanki, a real-life soap opera’

Malvika Singh, whose parents Raj and Romesh Thapar started Seminar magazine (and whose attempt to start a news channel for Ashok Advani‘s Business India magazine in the mid-1990s is the stuff of media lore), in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

“An intellectually lazy press corps that controls and operates the electronic media in India, drowning us all in its short bites and screams, virtually taking on the garb of the politician on the soap box, has dumbed down the discourse. It has no idea of how to divide reporting from analysis as it allows the two to merge seamlessly into a stream of confusion and one-sided chatter.

“The other example of that laziness can be found in the guests who appear on all the channels — about the same 40 people who are tossed about as in a caesar salad. No fresh views, no new voices.

“Television was meant to be a tool that would access far-flung views and voices in an effort to expand the real news from the ground as well as the dialogue. Instead, each channel is predictable in its reactions to political happenings and one can clearly ascertain the personal political preferences of the owners and the anchors in the construct of their programmes.

“Indian television is like a nautanki, a soap opera, watched for the ‘live’ entertainment it provides as it shows real life leaders of India prancing about abusing one another, thereby demeaning themselves in full public view.”

Photograph: courtesy Tehelka


  1. This is unfortunately not just an Indian phenomenon; it’s private television everywhere…and ‘to keep up’, public television follows suit. No real debate or discussion, not even a sober presentation of facts – just soundbites and theatre.

  2. Three cheers to Malvika for saying it like it is. Sometimes, the high decibels are put on just for the camera and the TRPs. But I wonder about the people who agree to appear on these channels, who are often made fools of! Why would any self-respecting human being allow herself to be put through such torture and humiliation? Even the publicity that ensues from it would appear to be a double-edged sword!

  3. krishnamoorty

    You said, “intellectually lazy press.” Intellect and press don’t go together. They’re a mismatch. Cliche is a synonym you can use to define the Indian press.


  4. Mohan

    Newspapers or no better, except for a few, numbering less than 10, and i mean the english language press. The eyeballs they seek are the ones who need instant gratification, like drugs that give instant “nirvana”….

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