How a news channel made Anupam Kher, not terrorists a threat to India-Pak talks
With friends like these who needs enemies.
- Total Shares
Having got accustomed to the daily diatribe via television that also passes as the insatiable appetite of the "Nation Wants To Know", I was surprised to experience it in "at your doorstep" model. A correspondent of the daily diatribe called long distance from Mumbai to ask if I had a response to Pakistan's refusal of visa to actor Anupam Kher.
Frankly, I thought what a shame that Pakistan should deprive itself of Kher's company at the Karachi Literature Festival (Jaipur are you listening?), but equally that since I will be there I will miss him too. He is wonderful company when not screaming about returning awards and I have admired him over the years. His charming wife, Kirron Kher, has been a cherished guest at our parties.
Curiously, I did not get to see the Kher performance on the world without Pakistan visa but as I drove to the airport for departure to Karachi via Dublin, a young and persistent correspondent wanted to know whether I would boycott the lit fest in support of the actor. On not getting the right response, decibels and all, the young man asked how I could not boycott when the enemy had treated a citizen colleague in a ham-handed manner.
I sensed the story that was yet a twinkle in his eye and a torrent in his throat: Salman Khurshid betrays Anupam Kher.
Mind you, Kher had not exactly reached out to me for Gandhian support of satyagraha but repeated that incensed the man further. At this point I began to enjoy the conversation a bit more than I enjoy the channel's shouting matches.
So I launched my version of the Agni missile: "To tell you the truth, your channel has on several occasions chastised me for not supporting the PM and this time I must do just that. He made an unscheduled visit to PM Nawaz Sharif's family event and hugged him, held his hand and gave him a paghri, the ultimate respect according to our ancient traditions. I cannot repudiate our PM by boycotting the fest for a lesser soul than the PM. No hugs and kisses, no hats and bats but I will go," I said somewhat peremptorily. "But I fail to understand the logic," was the retort. "What does this have to do with the PM?" I was repeatedly asked. If I had provoked him a little I might even have been rewarded with a "What does the PM have to do with Pathankot?"
The conversation began with a request for a camera bite and ended up with a plea for an audio reaction. I explained to my interlocutor that my impression was that his channel adhered to the philosophy that the unsuspecting be lured to the channel to be told what the channel thought and not to hear what they had to say. "You mean that you will not boycott the enemy who has insulted a fellow citizen because he supports PM Modi and is a Kashmiri Pandit?"
That is terrible, to involve Pakistan in our internal matters, I chided him. "Sure I will if the PM declares it an enemy country and your channel stops paying ludicrous former Pakistani colonels and air marshals for their appearances", I could not have been more direct. "But we pay Indians too," I was told as though that would silence me.
But I assume my next barb was unexpected: "I wish you were recording this conversation," I told the correspondent, "You could then have used it as a spoof not that your daily dose of self-righteous pontification is not spoof enough. However, you are welcome to quote me but please be fair in your choice of the words." A little bird tells me the conversation might have been recorded. I hope they have the guts to use it.
One thing, of course, was made clear that the said channel had the view and it does not hesitate to attack other views. "So take it from me that your view of the world undermines our democracy (I could have used a harsher term) by insisting that there should be no other view than yours. By the way is this your job compulsion or do you really believe what you are saying?" My intention was to search for some element of humanity but all I got was, "So can I then sum up your position...?"
The virtual interrogation was over. I must now await a verdict (as usual, in absentia) and then a popular demand for an ISIS-style public execution. And to think, as I told the correspondent, his boss is (sic) a friend. Presumably he is a friend of Anupam Kher as well. With friends like these who needs enemies? Would it be rude to suggest that this applies to our PM as well? How does our PM do a "katti" with Mian Saheb? Ask for the paghri and shawl back? Or simply call off the presently postponed talks agreed at Ufa and Lahore?
Meanwhile thanks to the channel, Kher is a greater impediment to India-Pakistan talks than Hafiz Saeed and Maulana Masood Azhar. Is another award due?
(Courtesy of Mail Today.)