Friday, August 22, 2008

Conversation with a news-channel reporter

Reporter: Mr Singh, we’re doing a story about the chick-lit genre, based on all these new books – The Zoya Factor, Almost Single and Meenakshi’s book – and we wanted a quote from you.

Jai: Okay.

R: Basically you can tell us all about how superficial and superfluous chick-lit is.

J: Hold on, are you giving me instructions on what to say?

R: No no, we just want your views on the subject...

J: Well, okay then, we can fix a time.

R: that you can rip the genre apart.

J: Um, you are telling me what to say. What if I want to say instead that a book should be judged as an individual work instead of being lazily lumped with a whole lot of other books that might be of vastly varying quality? That there can be good chick-lit, bad chick-lit and a whole lot of other intermediate types? That the "how" is more important than the "what"? And that the notion of “ripping a genre apart” doesn’t make much sense to me?

R (speaks after long pause, sounds bitterly disappointed): er, oh okay, in that case, bye-bye. (Hangs up)

No room for nuance, people. None at all. This is why we prophets of complexity rarely appear on TV and never get invited anywhere.


  1. NDTV used to have "Talking Books", which was really good, hosted by Sunil something. Don't know if it is still there...

    May be you should try proposing something to the TV honchos after all :)

  2. It could have been worse. You might have found yourself in the report under the heading "Jai loves Chick Lit"

    I suppose a gig as a Talking Head on VH1 or some other such channel is out of the question for you.

  3. Hey Jai,
    Sounds like you are disappointed when you say, "No room for nuance, people. None at all. This is why we prophets of complexity rarely appear on TV and never get invited anywhere."
    I am disappointed by this Jai just as human like rest of us..

  4. I read this recently in one of chick books recommended by Oprah. There comes a time in everyone's life when you start realizing that you cannot label things and box them as good or bad.

    Yeah, let's wait 112 years for such news-channel reporters to grow up and believe in nuances !

  5. You are more likely to find a virgin in Mumbai's red light district than nuance on Indian television news channels.


    Mayank Chhaya

  6. Haha, Can't get better than this for chick-shits.. I mean chick-lit of course..

  7. I'm totally alarmed! Even reviews are 'scripted'!

  8. Space Bar: brilliant, thanks. Love the repeated "husband-wife" bit.

    Anon: no, not disappointed, that was tongue in cheek. I am human in some ways though - I frequently eat and sometimes even step out into the living room for a short conversation with any persons who happen to be sitting about.

  9. Nothing surprises me these days when it comes to Indian news channels.

    Or so I thought, till I read your post!

    Absolutely disgusting!

  10. I know I am asking for too much. Name the news channel please :-)

  11. Rada: oh, I don't know. If I had to use a word as strong as "disgusting" (I'd probably avoid it in the first place), it would more likely be for some of the Aarushi Talwar murder coverage - e.g. the news anchors standing in front of a "blood-spattered" wall in a dungeon-like setting.

    Vishesh: nope, not asking too much - it was CNN-IBN. The reason I didn't mention the name was that it could just as easily have been any other channel - I've had similar experiences before with NDTV and Headlines Today, and many other people I know have had such experiences too. It's hardly limited to electronic media either (though they often have to work on tighter deadlines, which encourages this kind of sloppiness) - you'll find equivalent cases in just about any print publication you can think of.

  12. and they call people and give them fancy titles...heard on TIMES NOW...calling their sport editor "OLYMPIC HISTORIAN"

  13. Perhaps the only solution is to shut off the idiot box :)

  14. Haha ! I second Mayank on that Virgin thing !

    I remember some post from my feeds, it was about how some school promoted to teach shooting or something and this reporter was talking in a decided tone saying how children will become terrorist et. al. and the guy tried to be patient but finally gave up and said, "Mam you were supposed to be an arrogant whore, but your are not. You see its not that straightforward" ....

  15. I was least expecting CNN-IBN. Of all the news channel, that was the best or should I say andho mein kaana raaja

    Mighty disappointment seeps in.

  16. Guess your "expose" worked - check out this link criticism there "blessed" it seems...Interestingly these upholders of taste - cant even spell right!! Amost for Almost - right in the title and then Falvour for flavour....I feel sort of bad for them now!!

  17. Anon: no, that doesn't look like the story I was called for - seems more like a generic "review of books" piece.

  18. C'mon, surely you could have plugged those marvellous chick lit writers C. Bronte, E.Bronte and J. Austen and pointed out the noble traditions of the genre? You failed in your duty as a critic and arbiter of taste.

  19. This is regarding the comment left anonymously saying "and they call people and give them fancy titles -heard on TIMES NOW calling their sport editor OLYMPIC HISTORIAN".

    They were not calling their Sports Editor "Olympic Historian", they were calling Boria Majumdar "Olympic Historian", which he is. He is a sports historian and has done a fair bit of work on the Olympics as well.

  20. I can't see how you can give Boria Majumdar any other title but "Check Out This Guy's Voice"..