Saturday, April 24, 2004

Sight & Sound
No let-up in poll fever
Amita Malik

Amita MalikAs usual, we go to press before the event. At present the exit polls are giving startling results and the voters will know the best or worst before this column appears. So let me concentrate on different talk shows.

A different, soft-spoken Rajdeep Sardesai did a very good long interview with the Prime Minister and did not spare him difficult and embarrassing questions. Vajpayee coped well and threw in some poetry as well. Arnab Goswami has been shining for some time with his 8.30 p.m. slot. He is politically alert, always polite and relaxed and throws in some humour too.

Two significant talk shows, involving participants from young school children to university students, have been a revelation on NDTV. Small Talk went to schools all over the country and allowed young boys and girls to ask tough questions from political leaders. Ajit Panja was a little taken aback when asked if he read Harry Potter. He replied that his grandchildren did.

University students in Bangalore, Nagpur, Chennai, for instance, asked very tough questions from two leaders in the Opposition. Surprisingly, the netas looked subdued, did not raise their voices and were even humble at times. They spoke like normal human beings.

I am in Kolkata and it is amazing how many more channels one gets here as compared to Delhi. They are from every part of India and we also get Pakistan TV. I have asked my Delhi cable operator for PTV, which I have to watch for professional purposes but they refuse to give it. With this bonanza of channels in Kolkata, I was surprised to find South Indian channels giving brief bulletins in English as well. This is something which Hindi channels, except those with parallel English channels, could consider. The Bengali channels also do brief interviews in English. And they do extremely well with their news bulletins.

It is an intriguing thought what the channels will do now, considering that the India-Pakistan cricket matches are over and the election fever will be gone in a couple of weeks.