Anuvab Pal is a playwright, screenwriter, stand up comic and novelist, which is a really fancy way of saying his real ambition is doing nothing. Being Bengali helps.
An Ode To Arnab Goswami
I’ve been secretly hiding something and I need to confess. I’m in love with Arnab Goswami. Not the individual. I don’t know anything about the individual. It is rumored he gets his hair gelled in my neighborhood at a salon where cinema star Salman Khan waxes, but that’s only a rumor, and like Arnab, I don’t dabble in rumors. I seek the truth, I am a truth-seeker like him, the John Rambo of the Indian news anchors. So the truth is, I am talking about the thing that’s on TV, the character, the persona that shouts in my face everyday with the familiar, consoling, necessary words, “INDIAAAA…”
Now it’s true that if you are weak, if you muddle through your middle-class life, you may get scared listening to the Newshour on Times Now when he starts shouting. Your child may start crying, you may drop your coffee, or an aging person in the house may have a heart attack and die, but that’s because you are weak. You don’t have the mental and physical strength to listen to the day’s news. You don’t understand that anyone can read the news, but how many can feel the news? Tear the news? Break the news? Blow the news? Be blown by the news? Indeed, I’d go further and ask, how many can just say the word news in so many different ways so you think it’s not news – but your house burning down? That’s right, the answer is two words (or one word hyphenated) – no one.
Unlike weak people, Arnab and I are men of the world. We have strength. We have foresight. But there is one difference between us, I have hair loss and he has a lapel microphone. And into that lapel microphone, more than any other Indian, he knows what to do. To say, “No! No! No! No!” just when one of his guests begins to speak. That’s genius. That’s why he’s where he is (in a suit in Lower Parel) and the rest of us are where we are (elsewhere). He’s figured out the crucial Indian trait that many have forgotten – to deny things even before anything is said. To reject their argument way before an argument. Timed to perfection, like a Tiger Woods-infidelity. Right after “Arnab I think-” and boom. There. Every night. Come the tsunami of nos. Never a second late, like a master craftsman. It’s like watching Michelangelo.
Any Indian who grew up in 80’s Socialist India, filled with income tax raids, knows this. Always start with, “I’m innocent” even if the question is, “What’s your name?” That’s probably his inspiration, but as a cowardly fan I’ll never have the courage to go up and ask.
Many have forgotten that India. He hasn’t. He knows that India. And this India. All Indias. India knows him. In fact, he is India. When he says, “My millions of Indian viewers” or “My Indians” or “You, India” building to his opus “INDIAAA”, I need a drink of water to calm down from the erotically-charged ambience it creates. I’m ashamed that millions of Indians will prostrate before this or that Guru or Rajnikanth, but not before their TVs when he’s on. That they will calmly eat a home-cooked dinner (or dare to change to a sports channel) while he toils and fights every night to create a nation-shaking opinion revolution (that’s what I call it, you can call it “news”, you weakling).
It’s ungrateful. Unfair. But anyone who’s understood the workings of the world, or has watched the Oscars (Arnab has done both, simultaneously), knows that we live in an unfair, ungrateful planet. Where’s his Dadasaheb Phalke? His Nobel? His Rajya Sabha bungalow? His bid for India’s President? Another two words – not there.
It’s sad. But messiahs are never understood in their time. God, Mithun Chakravarty, the guy that invented the zipper – were all considered mortals. It takes a while for it to sink in to these ordinary people, the dead-weight who allow themselves to be clouded by dumb things like “reason” and “education”. Maybe someone someday will understand. Maybe Dadasaheb Phalke will receive the Arnab Goswami award, when there’s justice. As a start, I humbly beg the powers that be to do a version of “Mera Bharat Mahaan”, that old Doordarshan patriotic theme song, and replace it with “Mera Bharat Yahaan”, sung my him. Yahaan being his Newshour studio. Naturally.
That’ll be a start.
I hear Mr Aamir Khan is doing some show about the victory of truth on Sunday mornings. A great effort, but useless. Too late. The truth wins every night in India. That’s right. On Mr Goswami’s show. That’s where Satyamev comes to do his Jayate and hang out. By the way, in case you’re not sure if the truth won some night, wait for him to say,“The truth wins” followed by, “The truth has won” every 4 seconds between the Nos. He’s not a show-off, he doesn’t want to give away the score, he just wants to subtly hint at it. That’s what I call, in a word, class. Look up what it means in a dictionary. It means him.
Yes, Mr Goswami has critics. He has those that say he is opinionated without knowing facts, that it’s only a series of pointless accusations without perspective, that the flashing headline has already decided the debate, that people shout at each other and over each other so you can’t listen and there’s no debate, that mature journalism is about objectivity, about the greyness between black and white, it’s about two sides of every issue, that he doesn’t listen to anyone he invites. To those people, my thoughtful intelligent retort is – whatever. If you don’t like it, we have airports – leave. You are mass. He is class. You’ll never understand. It’s like going into Rahul Dravid’s wardrobe – classy. Don’t go there if you’re not invited. Go away.
Look, any pansy can look up “facts” and “listen”. Especially if you have Google and headphones. Any idiot can have an informed debate where they knowledgably navigate an issue while lacing their point of view. What’s the big deal in that? An emcee does that. Any child can call people on a TV show and be gracious to give them an opportunity to speak. Reality shows do that, and then give away money to the public for speaking (fools). The real talent is challenging the guests with,“Well sir, I have a piece of paper that says…” and then holding up a random piece of paper. Doesn’t matter if it is an empty piece of paper. Only Arnab can do that. Any journalist can sit and explore both sides of an issue with participants. It’s just lazy listening, no maturity required. How many can make up their mind about what’s right and wrong about an issue even before the issue has happened? Only him. It shows that he knows something will happen and knows how he morally feels about it weeks in advance. What happens in the studio later is merely the playing out of how he feels. He isn’t reporting the news, he’s foreseeing it. How long before he stops tragedies from happening? Coming soon, is what I’m saying. Batman, buck up man. And Arnab doesn’t even have an Arnab-mobile (I hope someone from Audi is reading this).
So to him, who is just like Alexander (only greater), Caesar (only more powerful), and Muhammad Ali (only stronger), I will say – ignore your “critics” (whatever that word means) and keep doing what you’re doing Sir, because if you are holding up a piece of paper to show India things, I, your viewer, am holding up a piece of paper in return. And mine says, “I love you”.
What these fools (read: regular humans) don’t realise is that long after they are gone and the world has ended in floods and earthquakes and your critics and other “journalists” have turned into mud, and all that inhabits the earth are microbes, you’d still be there, every night, sitting in your suit, shouting, “Indiaaaa”, forever, into eternity.
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