Category Archives: A bit of fun

Even a mad ‘Fox News’ anchor like Tucker Carlson says Coronavirus didn’t happen because the Chinese ate bats. So why do Rahul Kanwal and Vineet Jain want them to eat ‘khichdi’ and ‘papdi chaat’?

Even in the best of times, Indians are never short of sanctimony and self-righteousness but there has been an oversupply of both since the outbreak of #Coronavirus. The virtues of ‘Namaste‘ as a form of greeting—folded hands as opposed to a physical hug or handshake—has been extolled ad nauseam, even briefly inspiring a BJP IT…

If you come today, it’s too early. If you come tomorrow, it’s too late. But between that tomorrow and today there will be many tomorrows: Shekhar Gupta meets Dr Raj Kumar with Swami Nityananda watching.

*** It is not widely known that the Kannada movie legend Dr Raj Kumar won only one national award in his long and illustrious career, but it was not for his acting prowess but singing. Dr Raj Kumar won the award in 1993 for his rendition of Nada Maya in Jeevana Chaitra but the Raj…

How language newspaper owners “advised” Narendra Modi on how to shape his response to COVID, six hours before he announced a 21-day lockdown

Narendra Modi‘s relationship with the news media since becoming prime minister in 2014 has been built on conspicuous contempt and confrontation, but behind the scenes, chummy co-option and cultivation has been a constant endeavour. Modi likes the world to believe he is not bothered with what the “news traders” of the mainstream media say, when…

When Narendra Modi told an impressionable journalist that his glasses cost only a few hundred rupees; that he wore a simple Indian watch; that he got his clothes stitched from the same tailor each time

After eight, maybe nine, years of carefully coiffured image management, there is nearly nothing about Narendra Modi‘s expensive wardrobe that is debatable. Anybody blessed with even just one functional eye can see that he changes his clothes virtually hour of the day, rarely ever repeating colours. Anybody who can type a question in a search-engine…

Pouting, preening, posing, hinting: how ‘objective’ journalists are voting in the Delhi elections without really ‘reporting’

*** Journalists are human, of course, but nobody works harder than Delhi-based journalists to prove that to the world, especially during festivals like ‘Holi’ when the Twitter timelines of the bold-faced names are plastered with unidentifiable faces. #DelhiElections2020 offered yet another chance to ‘Tweetiyas’ to demonstrate they are just like the rest of humankind, and…

To mark Narendra Modi’s “unprecedented” 69th birthday, 11 newspapers in 7 languages respectfully open their editorial pages for the perfect “bow job” by his party colleagues

Narendra Modi turns 69 today. In itself, the number ’69’ is not ‘abhut purva‘ as the alliterator-in-chief himself might say, except for its more popular connotation. Turning 69 is not any different from turning 67 or 68, and certainly not as significant as turning 70. The pradhan sevak is still a sexagenarian. At best, one could…

The Piyush Goyal Theory of Journalism: the farther a newspaper is from New Delhi, the greater its chance of taking the pants off politicians*

  Piyush Goyal‘s theory of Albert Einstein‘s theory of Isaac Newton‘s theory of gravity is a cute case study for headline management in Indian newspapers. The loud railway and commerce minister—who is a chartered accountant and BJP treasurer in touch with corporates—is widely known for his “phone calls”. The coverage in today’s papers of his faux pas reveals how…

After 64 months of ‘desh seva’, Indian political journalists are so unused to demanding answers from the man at the top that there is shock—OMG!—shock when a science journalist does

Not a single dawn sees its dusk in the social media age without the honourable members of the media inserting themselves into a story and putting up a cringe-worthy sideshow, perfect for a future newspaper called The Daily Tamasha. And so, in the year of the lord 2019, it is ISRO’s failed mission to the moon, Chandrayaan-2,…

In 31 days of August, 5 leading English newspapers had 63 political and almost-political bylines on their edit and op-ed pages. Leader of the pack: ‘The Indian Express’ with 32 BJP voices in 39 pieces.

There once was a time, there was actually, when the editorial page was prime real-estate in a newspaper—the home of evolved minds; a trove of thoughts and ideas; and a showcase of scholarly even if somewhat boring writing. The dumbing down of the edit page, which began with the interventions of Samir Jain in The…

In the middle of an inexorable conflict situation in Kashmir, despite a brutal, undemocratic crackdown on civil liberties, there’s only one thing on the mind of a ‘saas’ who was once ‘bahu’

Mothers will be mothers, but reporters can be saviours. Vijaita Singh, a journalist with The Hindu, on assignment in Kashmir, met a woman in Srinagar, at a so-called “helpline” where citizens are allowed to make a phon calls, like prisoners. In the midst of a massive clampdown on communication networks in the Valley, Harvinder Singh…

Wisdom at the ‘Sangam’: Journalist Jawid Laiq has called seven elections in the last 42 years with greater accuracy than exit pollsters just by dipping his finger in the Ganga. Will 2019 reverse that trend?

After watching Indians at a polling booth and failing to read their mind on which way they were inclined to vote, James Reston, the late executive editor of The New York Times, grandly concluded that an election was a secret communion between a voter and democracy—it is sacrilegious to pry.  Now, where “Scotty” wrote this…

All indications are that India is heading for a major economic slowdown, but it is unlikely you will get that impression reading the so-called business newspapers

The less said about India’s business newspapers the better, but sometimes it has to be reiterated that they live in an alternate universe, all of their own making. Not one of them ever breaks a scam, although the state is seemingly receding from the lives of people and business houses are taking over. Most are…

Unused to real journalists meeting him without questions pre-scripted by the PMO, a defensive Narendra Modi mentions ‘The Indian Express’ ten times in his interview with ‘The Indian Express’

*** Prime minister Narendra Modi‘s interview with The Indian Express has been totally overshadowed by Time magazine calling him “Divider-in-Chief” on its cover, and the NewsNation TV “interview” in which he reveals how he fooled Pakistan’s radars by going in for the air strike in Balakot on a cloudy night. But the Express interview with…

Hit and Muss, and the Muzzler: When one of India’s finest cartoonists, Raj Thackeray, rages against Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, political campaigning touches a new ‘Low’

There has been plenty of weird stuff in General Elections 2019, but none weirder than the sight of a political leader whose party was not contesting, drawing bigger crowds than those who were sweating the good sweat. Even more bizarre was the spectacle, and a spectacle it has been, of thousands falling over each other…

You cannot hope to bribe or twist (thank god!) the Indian journalist. Not during elections, no sir, not our brave Leh journalists.

All is fair in love and war—and elections? Clearly, the samosa-jalebi eaters of the BJP have not heard of Humbert Wolfe: You cannot hope to bribe or twist  (thank God!) the British journalist. But, seeing what the man will do  unbribed, there’s no occasion to. Screenshot: courtesy The Telegraph

In Gauri Lankesh’s home-state, a frighteningly real story of ‘fake news’, with the clumsy footprints of BJP and RSS—and embedded ‘sangh’ journalists and newspapers. (And, yes, a fake news peddler followed by Narendra Modi.)

*** A leading Kannada newspaper owned by a former three-term BJP MP and a serial fake news peddler followed by Narendra Modi on Twitter, have been embroiled in a forged letter scandal, following the arrest of a “journalist” owing allegiance to the RSS. # The newspaper is Vijaya Vani owned by former Dharwad (North) MP Vijay Sankeshwar. #…

“Journalists make terrible politicians. You have to have a very, very thick skin to survive the muck. I made a mistake,” says anchor Ashutosh who had vowed (on camera) never to come back to journalism

Do journalists betray their profession when they enter politics? Do journalists make terrible leaders? Should there be a “cooling-off” period before a journalist takes the plunge? Questions, questions, questions. All asked a zillion times before whenever a journalist steps over to the other side of the mike. As Supriya Shrinate, a former ET Now presenter,…

Pritish Nandy was the reason Daler Mehndi made the hit number ‘Tunak Tunak Tun’. As at least one answer in every interview in the ‘Illustrated Weekly of India’ would start, “You know, Pritish.”

The big, booming voice of Daler Mehndi, the superb sufi and bhangra singer, no longer rocks pubs, clubs and dinner parties. Bollywood has moved on to his brother Mika Singh, and Daler’s own legal tangles with alleged human trafficking have cast a dark shadow over him. But, Holi Hai! In an interview to Seemi Pasha of…

‘The Daily Telegraph’ journalist who found Nirav Modi in London was, er, not quite looking for the diamond fraudster that Narendra Modi had happily let go

Journalism doesn’t always happen by design. When The Daily Telegraph found the fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi hailing a taxi in London, and peppered him with questions, it was not because a crack investigative team was actively looking for the man who had defrauded banks in India of Rs 13,000 crore. It was because the paper’s magazine…

Who tried to kill a senior journalist? Anushka Sharma will tell Tarun Tejpal’s novel of his would-be assassins, and Amazon will stream it.

With impeccable timing, on International Women’s Day 2019, Mumbai Mirror reports that former Tehelka editor Tarun J. Tejpal‘s 2010 novel The Story of my Assassins, is to be made into a web series by the actor and director Anushka Sharma. A true story, the novel tracks a senior journalist as he sets out to investigate…