Hari Shanker R

Hari Shanker R

A Happiness Engineer at Automattic.

The Debate!

With the proliferation of news channels, the ‘televised debate’ has woven itself into the collective rhetoric of the nation. From the rudimentary, ‘controlled’ versions aired by Doordarsan, (Aap ki adaalat, anyone? Alright, that was in Zee TV, but still…), the ‘debate’ has now acquired too much pomp and panache. Complete with laptop-totting participants, Plasma TVs continually flashing customized Maya-rendered ‘logos’ and topics that’d make you flinch when your parents are around (Sample this for a ‘debate’ topic: “Condom and the Indian male!”) the ‘debate’, now, is the “in” thing for the ‘Youngistaan’! So we have a host of loquacious celebrity-journos from Markha Butt to Ran-deep Surd-uh-shy ‘enthralling’ us with their quips and repartee (not to mention favouritism, bloated egos and outright snobbishness).

Now… now… You just thought I’m anti-news-channel, didn’t you? WRONG! 😛 News channels rock, dude/dudette!!! Time for some reality check. A survey by a self-proclaimed India’s No 1 news channel reveals that youth (and that includes me. Yea, I’m just 19!!) spend more time flicking through those 40-odd news channels in the 200-channel strong television. Though parts of this survey are bullsh1t, it’s not entirely against facts, strictly speaking. Wardrobe malfunctions, french kisses, live bombs… you name it, the news channel has it! And that too… LIVE! Whoa! The televised debate is just a small offering in the hullaballoo. Lemme be frank. I used to be a bigtime fan of all those televised debates. Not ’cause I’m mad about Markha or something. I’m just preparing for my IIM-A GD! 😛

*Correction: I USED to be a fan of televised debates till roughly six hours ago, when I actually participated in one such show in a popular Malayalam channel. 😐 Allow me to elaborate.

It was my friend Kuttan who enlightened me about this debate on this party-owned TV channel. The topic was enthralling enough for me to jump at the opportunity. It bordered around the privatization of Kerala State Electricity Board. Well, dad being a senior KSEB engineer, I’ve lived my entire life listening about the plight of our state’s beleaguered electricity board. Dad’s debriefing sessions at home meant that I knew enough crap to be TV’s ‘Surd’ with one shot! Besides, the post-noon session at college that day was free for my class, so I wouldn’t lost any attendance either. I readily nodded and set off with some nine people, which included two girls. Only Satheesh (my batchmate at Mech – a ‘voracious’ speaker-cum-quizzer) was from my batch. All others were juniors. 😀 I amply provided my compatriots with all those catchy, questionable points. Satheesh, his debating skills perfected by UNI-Y model parliament, keenly noted all of them down, all set to spar on Television.

Enter channel-office. It was an untidy, converted party-office, located in the heart of the city. The studio, housed deep inside the office-complex, wasn’t good looking either. Alright, I haven’t visited any channel studio prior to this, but going by my well ‘experienced’ dad’s description, it was ..well.. umm… not really good. The channel guys didn’t actually starve us, though. So, everyone of us had free tea and ‘vada’ at the dilapidated channel canteen. I also had the ‘privilege’ to meet this totally-eccentric, self-styled, narcissistic channel-anchor a$ whom I’ve wanted to slap ever since I saw him first on TV five years back! I almost did that; but he slipped away flashing me a disarming smile. 😉

Anyways, we got back to the studio. There were around fifty people seated on both sides of the floor as participants. We elbowed our way and made ourselves comfortable in the plastic chairs. No sooner did I rest my tired frame, this stinky-guy sitting on my front started a quick conversation. I’ll describe it:
Stinky Guy (SG): “So, you from which college?”
Me: “All of us are from GEC Thiruvananthapuram.”
SG: “Oh! So, you better speak up here if you wanna get on TV, ’cause this one’s not like the other talk show by this channel. They only show the people who talk.”
Me: “Gee, thanks! That was a nice piece of advice. I shall certainly keep that in mind.”
SG: “So are you for the topic or against it?”

I sensed an alarm bell ringing. This guy is a commie. I could sense that!

Me: (Diplomatically) “Well, I frankly don’t have much opinion on this. Making KSEB a company won’t solve problems. But keeping it intact as a ‘board’ won’t help either!”
SG: “Hah!! It’s a fashion among you kids to support privatization!! You saw what happened in America didn’t you? Millions lost their jobs! That didn’t happen in India just ’cause are banks are nationalized. That’s just because of the timely action of the CPI(M)! (I was like 😮 at this!!) Making KSEB a company is just a blatant instance of privatization! They’re just selling of all the crap… Yada Yada.. blah blah…”

I had to fake an incoming phone call to escape from his blitzkrieg.

And, that was just the beginning.

Soon, the talk show host (another self-styled bearded guy named Moan Brite-ass who also happens to be the the MD of the channel) came in and started memorizing his lines and points. The panel members consisted of A reputed economist, a former electricity minister (now in the opposition) and a former KSEB chairman. After a few minutes of adjustments, the program started.

I shall not go into the topic(s) of the debate. The panel members were erudite and had done all their homework. With time, however, we realized the true colours of the host and most of the ‘participants’. Half of them were left-union KSEB workers and the rest were party-sympathizers/members. We, college students, were nothing but gaping scapegoats!! All nine of us supported the ‘company-fication’ to some extent, while the entire panel was against us! And hardly four of us got opportunities to speak. Like any other discussion in Mallu news channel space, the discussion was totally political and even the host was tacitly flaunting his political colours. There was a lot of propoganda showcasing the supremacy of the party that owned the channel.


Satheesh: Listening Intently


Yours truly!

The ‘audience’ microphone turned out to be the king of the day
. 😀 Select few laid their hands on it and they held on to the prized possession, speaking out loud so as to get themselves ‘seen’ on TV! A friend joked that he’d bring a mic the next time he’s participating in such a show!!And there was this guy sitting straight in front of me who’d come with a prepared set of irrelevant points, with a sole aim of getting his (badly contorted) face seen by the state’s populace. (Or at least a minuscule fraction of the state’s populace, who see this program!) He’d break into violent spasms of unintelligible dialogue at the top of his voice (yea, he was SHOUTING) without any provocation. Moan almost lost his cool at him! Finally, thoughtful quips by Moan interrupted the guy’s thought process and he was out of points once and for all. It was like this:
Guy: “There’s this alumnium company XYZ in Uttar Pradesh…”
Moan“But we’re talking about Kerala!”
Guy: “This company…”
Moan:”You won’t be heard without a mic. So better shut up!”
Guy: “No sir, I just want to convey my point to you…”
Moan: “Then come to my room after the show’s over instead of showing your aged a$$ on national television. Allow those who’ve ‘seen’ and ‘heard’ stuff themselves speak!”

The guy on the left is our stinky guy! The talker is the person on the right.


The ‘talker’ in action! (Finally, Brite-ass felt pity for him and granted him a mic)

Then, there was our Stinky Guy! He too followed the path of the other guy and would shout “TO HELL WITH PRIVATIZATION” every five minutes. My friend Satheesh finally got his two minutes of fame with the mic after lots of futile gestures. As we was making his valid point about helping the transition to the company aim at the greater good, Mr SG suddenly shouted out his privatization slogan again. Man, Satheesh grew SO red in the face and would almost have beaten the guy up black and blue, had I not stopped him!! (I think they showed that on TV! :P) We all supported Satheesh by clapping out loud and as I’d predcited, Satheesh became an instant-celebrity!

Another view of the stage. 😀

The program went on for over an hour in that note, until Mr Brite-ass said enough’s enough. Well, he didn’t forget to ‘courteously’ extend the mic to the two lone female members before he quit. One of them had spoke in anglicized mallu (to which I’m totally allergic!) while the other cited another valid point about the polarized nature of the entire debate. The cameraman, who was supposedly obsessed with one among them zeroed in on that girl for over a minute or so on TV!! (And they didn’t edit it out. Period.) In the end, after the filming was overe, there was a ‘doubt’ session where we students showed our might by enamoring the panel members with our intelligent questions. 🙂 Satheesh too attracted lots of accolades. Soon, we left for good in the same channel van that brought us to the studio. Thus, the debate where I couldn’t utter a single word, came to an end.


Satheesh, clearing his doubts. 😀

I made two decisions after the debate:

  1. I’ll practice speaking in debates more and attend more Group Discussions. Got over the ‘wrong notion that I’m good with GDs. I couldn’t even utter a word even when the topic was something I was totally familiar with. (Still, I came on TV ’cause of Satheesh. The camera man was more attentive about my amused expression rather than Satheesh’s impassioned speech, apparently. ;-
  2. I’ll blog more about the debates I’m going to attend.

P.S. Due to some internet connectivity issues at my home, I won’t be able to come online for a week or so. That roughly translates to delayed replies for all your comments. 🙁 Please excuse my absence. I’ll be back with more exciting posts. Also, expect a total makeover in this blog! Thank you readers for all your candid comments. Keep commenting! 🙂

A.M.D.G.

14 Comments

  1. Sriram

    Gold!

    Well your narration has changed style over the last couple of posts… its become more racy now 😀
    Great post.. It’s true that our state is so horribly over-political.. which one can see from things like what u experienced, to colleges!

  2. Sibin

    Yea you know what thath Brite-ass guy, I personally hate him too….i swear and pray to the One that he won’t go through a natural death!

  3. alan alexander

    1.too judgmental….

    2.keep it subtle,shouting out doesn’t help.

    3.criticism bordering on character assassination….thats bad

    4.good shot of yours there 😀

    5.proof read your posts…only minor mistakes,but they usually have a tendency to stick out

  4. ~==[[[ Abhi ]]]==~

    Hey great post and good chance to show ur face on tv. Why didn’t u tell abt ur dad’s credentials. Also why didn’t u take tips from ur dad? He sounds very confident in the show’s he’s come in:). Plus try developing ur habit to shout over others in discussions of this sort, you never get the perfect discussions anywhere, be it iim’s or even practise sessions @ local time classes. Plus when you focus on taking pics rather than talking it happens like this:)

  5. Raouf

    Agree with Alan that you were too judgmental. Maybe none of your victims are bloggers, but maybe people who know them are. I know you don’t give a feck, though . Whatever ;D

    Intimate me when you do something to put those resolutions in action. Point 1 especially, has been bugging me for some time.

  6. Neethu

    hey good going!…felt like i was personally present in the studio!:D

    and ya…katta intro *read:i had to use word web*;)

    Good shots too!…but ya…either u shouldn have bithced about them while u put up their pics or vice-versa!

    and aha! so that’s why you didnt speak h?and you said you were interested in debating and have no stage fright…….

  7. Neethu

    oh yea…and there r some spelling/grammar mistakes too…

    and good to know the truth that these ‘talk shows’ show biased version of peoples’ opinion!should keep that in mind while watching them……:O

  8. Ms Cris

    Nice report, now we know what really happens in talk-shows. When will this be aired? Dont tell me I missed it! Similar experience from another blogger and her replies – here

  9. jj

    I m late here!!!
    So, had fun with the mic vizhungis?
    Hope brite-ass and co won’t come after you for posting this!

  10. Hari

    @ Sriram:
    Silver! 😛

    Thanks buddy! I deliberately tried to make this one a tad more racy. 😀 You’re right. No one is spared. Period!

    @ Sibin:
    Hehe… I don’t have much hatred to him, personally, so to speak. 😀 He politicises a lot of stuff, yes. 😀

    @ sandeep ss
    Great to see you back in the blogosphere, bro! 🙂

    Spot on, bro! 😀

    @ alan alexander:
    I’m honoured by your comment, first of all, buddy! 🙂

    1. Maybe. But being judgmental is what blogging is all about! 😛

    2. I love shouting it out. Subtle posts rarely make a well-meaning point, you see… 😀

    3. Did I assassinate anyone’s character? I just made a few points I thought valid. If you felt character assassination occured, my apologies. I didn’t quite mean it. 🙂

    4. Duh!

    5. I know! 🙁 Usually I try to make my posts perfect. This time, I was writing on a strict time limit. Anyways, I’ve corrected many mistakes.

    @ binny va
    This show has been aired more than six times by now in two parts! More people have started recognizing me on the road. 😀

    @ Abhi
    Thanks a bunch bro! :)I could have, but I didn’t wanna make myself sound like a bigtime show-off. I know it was gross of me not to speak in a televised debate, but that’s again my lack of initiative. I did focus on talking, but I was writing this blog post in my mind, real time, as the show progressed, so couldn’t help clicking the pics!

    @ raouf:
    Perhaps! You understand me, friend! 🙂
    We’ll make amends, dude. 🙂

    @ neethu:
    Thanks!! So I did take you into the studio, didn’t I? 😉

    That’s a good thing,no? I’m helping your vocab! 😛

    I didn’t speak ’cause of problems of my own. 🙁 Perhaps I didn’t have the initiative or all my points were spoken out by satheesh/others. I guess that’s the reason. I’m interested in debating, I guess, I should try out more debates.

    Not all talk shows are bad. Only some of them, like this one. 🙂 Some could prove to be gems of valuable information, btw. 🙂

    LOL about Satheesh’s Shirt!! You’re right! Didn’t notice that first! 🙂

    @ ms cris:
    Thanks sis. But, you missed it! 🙁 This person’s way better than me! *fawns*

    @ GWBE:
    Hehe!! I was pissed-off, yes. You’re good at reading faces, sis! 🙂

    @ jj
    Entammachiye!! Mic Vizhungis vizhungified me! 😮 And you’re not late. Period. 🙂

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