Wednesday, August 12, 2009

(Un)Fair and (Un)Lovely debate on NDTV

I saw a TV debate on We the people (NDTV 24 x 7) on this topic. I initially thought it would be interesting but eventually turned out to be same old mundane stuff which has been repeated in various forums. Advertising bigwigs (read the Kakkars and Pudumsees of the world) saying that it is a mindset and a reality, why should we say no if a client wants it. Manufacturing companies promptly pointing to matrimonial ads, saying that this is how Indian want women to look. If they want it, we will give it. (Thereby saying that two wrongs can make one right!) Then there is the usual dark, sorry dusky, Bollywood girl who says with moist eyes how she felt humiliated about the comments hurled at her and how she was very proud of her complexion (thunderous applause!) etc etc.
I find it completely pointless to involve screen actors in such debates. In any case, their true skin colours are only known to them and their make-up artist. Even if it was to be used a strategy to get more viewers for the program, it begs the question why NDTV couldn't find even ONE actress to come to the show? By actress, I mean someone who would command respect of the masses and whom people would look forward to listening to in a public forum. And they could only think of - Deepal Shaw ??

At no point in the debate did anyone take a clear stance that promoting fairness cream in this manner amounts to being racist. One gentleman came perilously close and created a minor uproar. He admitted that if he was interviewing two women candidates who were otherwise equal in their merit, then he would prefer to hire the fairer one. That sent Barkha 'Banshee' Dutt shrieking - this is not only sexist, this is also racist! Racist! RAAAACCCIIIISSSSTTT!
The possible uproar died in an amusing way when the gentleman's wife smiled and said, "actually, I know that he will do no such thing."

Among all this commotion, the debate never touched upon one fundamental issue. Whether the fairness cream really works or not? I think I can guess why. If it can be proved that the cream just creates a feel-good effect and is not actually effective in doing what it claims, then some very big FMCG companies will be in trouble. Calling their bluff will cause some major embarrassment for them. It would mean that not only have they been playing on the minds of a 'gullible Indian mindset' but they have also been selling a product that does not work. And - what if the claims of the cream are proved right? That would mean they are fuelling racist thoughts. So there is little surprise why this issue is skilfully avoided.
Eventually the debate turned out to be quite superficial. And that was not just because of avoidance of the key issues, but also because of a completely ineffective anchor. Barkha Dutt, who else. NDTV has not just one, but TWO people making a total hash of these programs. Barkha regularly does it on We the People and Vikram Chandra does an encore on The Big Fight. He was anchoring a debate on 'Mayawati's statues' and it was all mayhem.
I wish the powers-that-be at NDTV read this and consider letting Nidhi Razdan handle more of these shows. She did a commendable job anchoring the debate on the gay rights issue. It was a far more sensitive issue then fairness creams and ran the risk of turning into a chaotic shouting match, but she didn't let that happen. Good work.


Vinay said...

ha ha... Barkha Dutt has her own agenda on such programmes. Any ways, these programmes create more noise than addressing issues. I never liked We, The people. Big Fight was good with Rajdeep Sardesai. But Rajdeep too tried to push his own agenda in Big Fight. You should have watched, how he cuts out speakers from BJP/ RSS or any such organisation. His bias was visible there.

Pushkaraj said...

@ Vinay and Deborah - Thanks for the comments. My friend told me that this was an old program, being re-run. So looks like NDTV is not just running out of good anchors, but of good ideas too!

Rahul Jauhari said...

Thanks for your comment on my blog.
Do look forward to seeing you there more often.
Cheers :-)

Chhaya said...

first of all, thank u for such a nice review @the indi... would love to hear from you @ my blog. and don’t worry, I can take criticism. so if you dislike what I write, you can freely tell that to my face :)
back to this topic. I guess the first mindset to be changed needs to be the girls with so called dusky complexion. Just don’t give a rat’s ass what others tell you! which man hasn’t quacked in his boots while watching Zeenat Amaan in Satyam Shivam Sundaram? I mean, it’s all about how you carry yourself. If someone offers the advice of using the fairness cream, just tell them that you won’t change ur skin color for anything.. I mean _tell them_ .. don’t just say this in your heart.
You are as beautiful as you think you are.
Barkha Dutt .. arrrghhh.. she gets on my nerves.. hated the way she handled the Mumbai Siege..

Pushkaraj said...

@ Chhaya - Thanks for dropping in and adding to the voice. Yours speaks louder than even my original post!
As for Barkha Dutt, less said the better. I did write about the irresponsible media during 26/11 on my blog too. Take a look at those posts.