“We will mislead”, smirked the Headline


There is sensation. And then, there is sensational!

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What is sensation? I know the answer but, I had to rely on Google to throw a definition! And, this is what it says –

“Sensation is the body’s detection of external or internal stimulation (e.g., eyes detecting light waves, ears detecting sound waves). Perception utilizes the brain to make sense of the stimulation (e.g., seeing a chair, hearing a guitar). Sensation involves three steps:

And now, what is sensational?

Merriam Webster says – “arousing or tending to arouse (as by lurid details) a quick, intense, and usually superficial interest, curiosity, or emotional reaction to sensational tabloid news”

Now, let’s talk about sensation first. Well, touching a steaming hot pot, inhaling a whiff of the repulsive HIT, taking a bite of a hot red chilli, getting the flash effect directed at eyes or, shuddering ear drums during times of festivals is sure to give you a platter of sensations you will not want to forget and at the same, will not want to experience again. Sensations! That is what they are! They are meant to be deep. They are meant to make a memory. They are meant to entice you or repel you. They stay with you, no matter what! Just like, I still love the smell of my mother’s fresh cotton sarees. I love the taste of bournvita she makes. I love to hear her sing – Kurai onrum illai (she is a huge fan of MS). Then talking about the other aromas, the making of fresh ghee, preparing chikkis for Uttrayan, soothing smell of freshly plucked coriander and mint, the intoxicating pong of petrol (I know! But I can’t resist it!) stimulate my senses in ways I cannot express….

Anyways, that is what sensation is for me. A memory to retain. A memory to reminisce. Sometimes, a memory to feel pain too! Yes, I vividly remember being stung by the golden wasp on my visit to Amritsar. Even a brandy shot did not relieve me of the searing pain! I tolerated the painful sting for about four days. Heal, it did but, the sensation, the burning sensation stayed behind. So sensations essentially remind us that life is full of butterflies and bees! Hmm.

Now, let’s talk about the term sensation-al.

Sigh….. (I know am heaving right at the beginning and. you will know why!)

I recently came across Shabana Azmi’s interview. You can read the post here. So, when it was trotting around on FB, the headline is what caught my attention. It read –

Health of a democracy depends on how its minority feels and, right now, we are in big trouble”……

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If you go through the article, it is more about what Shabana feels about women empowerment in Indian cinema and how, she is quite proud of the fact that women are trying their passions in the line of production and direction too! Now, somewhere in the middle of the article she was asked – “Given that religious politics has had such a significant impact on who comes to power in our country, lately, do you think the Ram-Sita model of virtue will make a re-emergence soon?

To which she replied what has been covered in the headline – “Health of a democracy depends on how its minority feels and, right now, we are in big trouble

Read the whole interview and let me know if she has mentioned any religion in specific anywhere. For all you know, she might be referring to the women kind as the minority! Because, the whole interview is about women empowerment in Indian cinema, the point of view regarding minority could be anything. And suddenly, the self proclaimed social media frenetic left nasty comments on how she should go and live in the neighboring country and how, she is oblivious to the fact that the said people following her religion are no more a minority!

I am deeply troubled by this. A headline as that was enough to create so much hate for a talented woman who is an irreplaceable artist in Indian cinema. Her notable films like Fire irked the ‘big men’ of her own religion to no end. Her role as a forced prostitute in the film Bhavna gave a different dimension to the entire thought process towards a woman’s choices of do or die in life. Her role in the movies of parallel cinema such as Lakshmi in Ankur and, as Sushila in Nishant are such in-depth portrayals of submissively sensual women! I can endlessly go on and on about her impeccable acting skills. But, that is now what this post is about.

People need to sit back and think after they read something on the Internet. Do they? Do we? Do you?

Well, the most convenient and predictable reaction is – Jump the gun, accuse the person, and then banish him or her to Pak!

Seriously?

Take the example of the recent crack down on illegally run slaughter houses in UP. Apparently, the ILLEGAL slaughter houses have been called to shut down. But, the headline was –Meat ban! So, a majority of people, without taking a note of the actual scenario already cried buckets of tears on social media about how they were going to miss the succulent galauti kebabs of Lucknow!

When late actor Om Puri said something distasteful in a spur of the moment about the Indian soldiers, twitter went berserk! (What he said was wrong. But none cared to know if he was provoked about something) For a moment I thought he was going to be eaten alive! He did apologize for his statement but, none cared! The veteran actor’s words had left his tongue and, as a celebrity he paid the price to be hated! But the question is – “Did he mean what he said?” (Remember, he played the role of a soldier as Col Krishnakant Puri in the movie – China Gate)

Before that, answer some of the questions below.

Dear Indian tweeps,

  1. How many of you say a lot of unpalatable things when you are angry?
  2. How many of you have been pushed to the wall and, hence have opened up your ugly side?
  3. Do you always mean what you say?
  4. Are you someone like Mahatma Gandhi or Mother Teresa who preached about showing the left cheek after being slapped in the right?
  5. How many of you treat your women folk in your family as your equals?

Keep these answers with yourself and, remind yourself of these when you read a post and are provoked to respond!

When FB was flooded with some news of actor Surya having converted to Islam, I checked the article. The headline said so, again! Apparently, he was reprising a role for a movie! See, this is what I am talking about.

Yesterday, I watched the movie – Confessions of a shopaholic and there was this interesting conversation between Becky and Alette (played by Kristin Scott Thomas). Becky beams about writing about affordable fashion – the job offer that Allete herself has brought to the former’s doorstep. And then, Alette picks up a shoe that turns out to be Louboutins. Becky instantly points out that it cannot be covered under affordable fashion. To which, Alette explains – “Fear not, chez Alette. We print the prices very small! And then, what are credit cards for?”

A harmless trick or, a harmlessly harmful trick? But a trick that people shall fall for, surely! Isn’t it?  That is exactly what the news channels and papers are doing these days. Finding ways to print news in a way that is legal and yet, will not give away the whole truth! How convenient? And then, who loves a plain Jane? Everyone loves the spice!

No. Not me. I prefer plain Jane. I want real news. As a citizen of India, I am entitled to receive genuine news that has stemmed from actual facts and NOT from some cut and edited footage tailored by journalists who have thrown away their conscience!

Dear Indian Media,

Headlines are supposed to be leads for your news piece. Unfortunately they are anything but that. Your duty is to ask the right questions. You are not supposed to make statements within questions. If you call people for interviews of debates, allow them to speak.

Sometimes, you need to listen to your conscience too. Whether you want to give good sensations to people or, give sensational people heart burns is your choice. But then, choose wisely. Sometimes, what goes around comes around. God forbid, a day comes in future when we live in a country ruled by a dictator who chooses to silence the true voices just because you behaved so reprehensibly in the past! God forbid.

Freedom of speech is more of a responsibility than a luxury. The day you realize it is the day this country will progress in the truest sense!

I stopped reading newspapers the day, ‘martyred’ was replaced by killed and, obituaries had severe mistakes like gender mash ups! I had great respect for Media once. It is after all, the fifth pillar of democracy (The first four pillars are justice, equality, freedom and representation). It is also our country’s fourth estate. However, the pillar is crumbling down. Worse, credibility is no more a root for truth.

I am sad that I wanted to become a journalist when I was studying in school. And, I am glad that destiny made me an engineer. Enough said.

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