It’s that time of the year when I pontificate about the stuff that I find interesting on TV these days. This time, I talk about interviewers.
1. Karan Thapar – Since he started hosting ‘Devil’s Advocate’, Karan has turned into the human equivalent of a rabid dog (at the risk of sounding offensive). He gnaws at his guest’s intellectual ankle as it were, and doesn’t let go till he gets answers. Occassionally this tendency leads to highly defensive interviews (Ex. Chidambaram, Rahul Bajaj) where the guest turns the entire interview into a ‘Karan vs. Me’ freak show.
2. Arnab Goswami – ‘Frankly Speaking’ is one of the most interesting shows on news channels these days, if only because of Arnab’s unabashed disdain for celebrities. While Karan works with his aggressive puppy routine, Arnab works with a principle of steady, unwavering condescension. Shah Rukh: You want me to be offensive? I can give you a gaali. (Twinkle in the eye. Dimples on display. Audible gushing by millions of female fans.)
Arnab (dripping with sarcasm): You wouldn’t dare to Shah Rukh.
Shah Rukh: Yes I could.
Arnab (unwavering condescension): You wouldn’t dare to Shah Rukh.
If he had a wooden ruler, Arnab would surely cane his guests for misbehaving and/or taking themselves too seriously.
3. Vir Sanghvi: Vir currently hosts ‘Face the Music’ for NDTV, arguably the most tacky show on news channels these days. It looks straight out of DD Metro from the mid 90s. Three guests for a 25 minute show, and a band doesn’t leave much scope for a discussion in any depth. For a while Vir seemed to be the the resident shrink on TV (shades of Simi) with Star Talk (some years back), but since then it’s been a downhill journey of di’worse’ification and dilution of brand equity by hosting multiple shows on various channels.
4. Rajdeep Sardesai, Sagarika et al. – While CNN-IBN is probably the best English channel around, as far as interviewing skills go the less said the better. The dominant strain of interviewing seen here is one of ‘let’s put words into the guest’s mouth – words which we want to hear’. Rajeev Masand also deserves to be locked up somewhere – reading movie reviews from a tele-prompter does not an entertaining show make.
5. Prabhu Chawla: (stunned silence)
Yes there are all kinds of interviewers, but they seem to add a lot more value to television viewing when compared to ‘breaking news’ obsessed journalism.
As for interviewees, Rahul Bajaj takes the cake, cherry, cream, and the cardboard box too.
Rahul Bajaj: (asks where Karan studied)
Karan Thapar:If it is relevant I will tell you. I went to Doon School, Cambridge, Oxford and I know a lot about politics.
Rahul Bajaj: I went to Cathedral, St. Stephens, and Harvard, slightly better than you in every respect. So I understand logic. But I am a humble man unlike you.