A.Jayasankar rarely watches television. But, ironically, he is one of the most respected faces on the small screen. He anchors ‘Varanthyam’, a weekly analysis of the print media on Indiavision channel. His sharp, unbiased, matter-of-fact analysis of news and views in his tongue-in-cheek manner is the USP of the show. A lawyer of the Kerala High Court, Jayasankar speaks about his tryst with television. Excerpts:
Facing the camera
The opportunity just came by. I used to write political analyses in newspapers. Later I became part of discussions on prime time news on Indiavision and also used to do a kind of print media analysis on some occasions. It was then that K. Nikesh Kumar (the then CEO of the channel) came up with the idea of ‘Varanthyam’. I told him that I had no experience on television. When he asked whether I had watched similar programmes, I replied in the negative. Then he felt that I was the right person to do such a show because I would not be influenced by any other shows on the same lines. It has been on air for nearly six years now.
How has been the experience?
Doing live shows is easier than recording a show. I’ve never had the ‘flexibility’ of present-day anchors. It was quite funny initially.
But then your presentation style has been widely appreciated...
That is because I echo the common man’s sentiments about what has appeared in the media. I come out strongly against many aspects in the print media that the average, educated Malayali would have felt like expressing. Even though I’ve my own political and social views, those never come into the show. My observations are impartial to a great extent. And I’m really happy that the channel does not impose any kind of restrictions on me.
Your observations on the standard of print media?
Every newspaper establishment has its own identity. That is why the same news item is displayed and reported differently in various newspapers. But I’ve found that errors are on the rise, which naturally brings down the standard of reporting.
How easy/difficult is the job?
Being a lawyer, I’d say running ‘Varanthyam’ is almost like arguing a case! I’ve always had this yen for analysing things – somewhat like an organic process, which got me into writing political pieces in newspapers. Now, if I read a particular news item in a daily, I can easily figure out in which page it would be displayed in another daily. That is experience. I do the job in my own style, and since I rarely watch television, there is no question of getting influenced or inspired or threatened by any other show. For that matter, I don’t even watch my show!
(‘Varanthyam’ is aired on Sundays at 7.30 p.m.)