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Sunny steals the show

Many in the media and the film fraternity are upset with what has been dubbed a regressive and sexist interview of actor Sunny Leone by journalist Bhupendra Chaubey on CNN-IBN. There are some who say Chaubey was just doing his job. There’s no doubt he was, but sadly, not too well.

I have never been fond of Chaubey as an anchor. He was fine as an understudy when Rajdeep Sardesai helmed the channel, but that’s about it. Barkha Dutt and Arnab Goswami too worked under the shadows of Sardesai. They got into their own pretty fast.

Having been a seasoned political reporter, he may be fine grilling second-rung party leaders, but one can’t expect Chaubey to do much with a top politician. Now, we know Leone has been a porn star. She has no regrets about her past. A few weeks back, Shekhar Gupta interviewed her for his popular show, Walk the Talk on NDTV 24x7. The questions he posed to her were similar to that of Chaubey’s, but the difference was in the style of asking.

Gupta in fact spoke of her “notoriety” and got her to talk about how pornography was just another day at work... very mechanical. But while doing so, he accorded her the respect just as he would with a political biggie or a corporate czar.

Not so with Chaubey. He smirked, asked her questions in a very condescending way, and very rightly, got rapped hard across social media. When he tried to argue his case in a blog post and brought in his wife and daughter to gain sympathy, they too weren’t spared.

Bhupendra Chaubey is no Prabhu Chawla whose tease in Seedhi Baat on Aaj Tak would enrage many guests. My fear with the former India Today strongman was that he would be punched back for his inquisition. But I am sure Prabhu too wouldn’t be as dismissive as Chaubey was of Sunny Leone. It is, of course, incorrect to compare a Chaubey with a Chawla, who is a far, far more senior journalist with legendary connections.

Meanwhile, if the trailer is any indication, Sunny’s act in Mastizaade doesn’t leave much to the imagination. That’s what adult comedies are all about, and we are being subjected to a heavy dose of that genre only in recent times. Does that allow Chaubey to be patronising in an interview? The fact is that he wanted her on the show as much as she wanted to promote her film. I am sure he would’ve thought it would help build ratings. And make him a superstar.

And what a fall it has been. Not only has he disgraced himself, he has even brought disrepute to his profession with the masses, because the person interviewed was not a politician but a popular star, so what if some or a lot of it is in the realm of porn. A friend, who has nothing to do with the media, lampooned the tribe on Whatsapp, saying, you reporters think you can get away with anything. Sad, for it’s not always true.

It’s the responsibility of media organisations employing journalists to rein them in and let the power not go to their heads.

As we have seen in the recent past, the public, especially via social media, can tear you down in minutes. It’s a mob out there. Thankfully for Chaubey, he hasn’t been mauled socially. But if he doesn’t correct himself soon enough, he will face the wrath.

In fact, much as I detest her for the “ sikka hila ...” refrain in Mastizaade (which I am sure will be a blockbuster after this), I must admit Sunny Leone was excellent in her interview. She spoke very well even as it was evident that Chaubey was determined to damn her, and a video that I saw of her thanking people post this controversy was super. I won’t be surprised if she gets some really meaty role after this.

This year’s Bigg Boss hasn’t been the best in its nine editions. A lot has to do with the inmates who were cobbled together. But the show does wonders for those who stay on for a few weeks. You don’t need a Sunny Leone to tell you that.

The writer is a commentator and editor working across media. He is founder-editor at MxMIndia and Happ Post , an alternative news offering. Tweets @pmahesh

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Printable version | Apr 20, 2021 4:46:36 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/entertainment/Sunny-steals-the-show/article14015824.ece

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