Of media and mediums

A NEW LOOK At the way the media works

A NEW LOOK At the way the media works   | Photo Credit: Photo: Murali Kumar K.


Amitabh Bachchan tells MINI ANTHIKAD-CHHIBBER, thanks to the rapidity of the information exchange, our lives have become that much more frenetic, frantic and hectic

It is difficult to be blasé about interviewing Amitabh Bachchan especially when one believes the perfect recruitment test would be a “Sholay” quiz! After a hectic security search where the strong silent men gazed long and hard at the orange I had got for lunch, I was ushered into a chair to await The Man.

The steady hum of conversation around me, where the exact temperature of the AC, the correct angle of the flowers in the vase and the right colour of the serviettes were discussed with utmost seriousness, suddenly gave way to pin-drop silence and there he was politely saying “Hi, I am Amitabh.”

I swallow the dino-sized butterflies in my stomach and remind myself firmly not to gawk. “There is something traditional about holding a newspaper in the morning,” he says conversationally. “I feel my day is not complete unless I read the paper. I follow the news on the Net, on telly and on radio. But even when I read news online, I look at the e-paper, which is the electronic version of the print paper!”

While admitting that one has to wait for 24 hours for the next round of news in print, Bachchan says: “Despite that, one goes to print for the systematic analyses and the editorials.”

In town to promote Ramgopal Varma's “Rann” Bachchan says: “I was drawn to Vijay Harshvardhan Malik because the character is topical. I found the concept interesting — of how the electronic media deals with being the conscience of the nation, as well as a business. Malik is the owner of a channel. He has great integrity and is respected for it. Things change and his integrity is called to question.”

About homework for his role, Bachchan says: “It is all there 24x7! I would not say the media is intrusive. It comes with the territory. When you are public figure, people are interested in what you do, where you go — what do I say, the air is free!”

Bachchan did not want to jump on the bandwagon of criticising the media. “It is a brave world out there. I have visited a couple of newsrooms and it is a mammoth operation. Feeding this monster, keeping competition in mind, figuring out what will work, what will not, to keep on your toes all the time is a big job.”

“These are early years for the electronic media. In a developing society like India, every modern invention will have to make quantum leaps to catch with the rest of the world. In this leapfrogging to catch up, a vacuum is created — that is simple physics. Some things are not finished properly. There is no alternative. We cannot not want to leap frog, right?”

And how about the mind-numbing shallowness we are plagued with?

“With the kind of access we have these days, we have to expect a certain amount of dilution. Everything now is about rapidity and reach. This is the time of instant news and reactions as opposed to say 1963, the year Kennedy was assassinated. That was a time when news-time and reaction-time was much slower, days even.”

On song, the erstwhile angry young man continues, “Everything that's being developed puts you in a space where it is all about speed. If on your computer, a window does not open in two seconds, you want an upgrade, this is the time of instant messaging, instant responses and this reflects on creativity as well.”

Admitting there are cynics who bemoan the passing of good old days when there was time to hold a moment, the tehrav, Bachchan says: “I don't know if it is a good or a bad thing. But that is the way our lives are now. If you look at the amount of edit cuts in a movie today and compare it to a film of, say the Fifties, you know what I am talking about. Where once it took 50 words to express something, now people say ‘cool' or ‘mind-blowing' and the beauty is they are able to convey the entire meaning of those 50 words in just one or two.”

“Rann” is Bachchan's sixth film with Varma. “Is it?” he asks looking quizzical. “I like the way Ramu makes films. It is a great pleasure and joy to work with him. When you work with someone and find a comfort level, then you would like to work with the same person again.”

And never mind clunkers like “Ramgopal Varma ki Aag” and “Nishabd.” “Irrespective of the outcome. Success cannot be the criteria for choosing to work with somebody. That way I have also worked in films that have not been successful but people still want to work with me.”

How different is Vijay Harshvardhan Malik from say Vijay Dinanath Chauhan (“Agnipath”)? “Oh they are completely different movies!” So no chance of another ‘Topi Sambhal' moment. Sigh.

Bachchan goes on to say how he suggested Vijay be added to Harshvardhan Malik as “the name has proved lucky.”

Ask him if he is tech savvy and he depreciatingly comments, “Not very. I can make and receive calls, and receive and send emails on my Blackberry. I can take and upload pictures on my blog. But there is a lot more I need to know.”

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