Thursday, March 24, 2011

The muted and the Mutated..

The shift of the greed.

The disturbing trend of the unethical migratory movement in the circles of   News  media and electronic media journalist professionals  has forced me into a brooding mood of  my beautiful experiences with my journalist friends with whom I lived for a considerable period  in early seventies. My intention is not to hurt (I know they dont get hurt easily as they are criticism resistant) any particular individual who are presently involved in the mass  media  as a whole.  It is an only effort to console my disturbed state of mind and to find out the reasons for my anguish that has been bothering me for a quite few time now.The  recent incidents of mass exodus and frequent migration from one media house to another. The writers, reporters, columnists and almost  all  writers of different dailies and channels which was more or less like a  new government transferring the bureaucrats in high office after  assuming the power. Professional loyalty, honesty, a personal commitment of human relationship and an extensive uninhibited knowledge have become the rarest of rarer commodity.

Yes..One can understand the sea of changes in all spheres of life. Globalization, Liberalization, Privatization, raising Indian economy, competition, the birth of corporate society, buyers market, increase in the middle class and not to forget the IT and BT and so on. The tentacles of Information Technology have spread far and wide. They have engulfed the entire  fabric of society. IT has changed not only  the very skeleton of Bangalore but the whole of Karnataka with its money inflow effect.  The Information and entertainment have become more than a biological need. The very Serene atmosphere has changed rapidly. Roads are widened, bridges  are constructed. The buildings are no more simple but too massive and  attractive. We could never imagine an university campus like Mysore or Karnataka or any other universities could be built by private sector or by any individual. Today some of the soft ware companies and why even colleges, hospitals are breath taking and looking better than universities or government buildings. Along with this Migration of rural mass has increased. To meet the increasing mass requirement, production units are spreading every where. Hundreds of bordering villages are now transformed into  new posh extensions beyond anybody's recognition. Naturally with such  conspicuous changes  around you, you cant afford to be blind and sessile. Thousands of new things are pouring  everyday in all most all outlets simultaneously. And these are so attractive, it is impossible to turn away from them.  Domestic needs are completely changed. No more only fan for breeze or earthen pot for cool water in summer. It is air conditioners, and refrigerators. No more powerless Luna's or SUVEGAS, JAWA bikes Vespas, Lambretta scooters, but Suzuki's,Honda's,rule the road. No more theaters, commercial complexes. It is Mall and Metros now.You should move on and join the main stream. You are tempted to get these wonderful, luxurious and comfortable things for your life.  Agreed... We are not saints or hermits. We should enjoy as others do. Nothing wrong in it.   But whose money is it? Have you earned it?  If so?? what are the means you followed to amass that money. Is it fair?  At least do you question yourself boldly at least once? My foot.....why should I? when the whole world is swimming in the direction of the current, why should I go against it.? Wont your consciousness prick you? No need to answer these absurd questions!

Once we believed that simplicity is the best way of life. Lesser the needs more comfortable you are. This idea was cherished and nourished  by idealists once. and journalists were the supreme exponents of this idea along with intellectuals to nurture this great idea of happiness. Even today there are some specimens left out to keep up the tradition of simplicity.

The attraction of these changes is so great the entire society is drawn towards it. Everyone wants to become one in having all that are produced, seen and enjoyed. With this avarice and rapacity flourishing in the surroundings the intellectual class, the writers and journalists could not sit back and watch simply and helplessly. I always believed that these are the most intelligent, well read with bundle of knowledge and uncompromising in their ideological commitment and dedication to their profession.Their stand on national issue and humanity at large were unquestionably exemplary. They were the real great souls of adventure and human endeavor. They could not  be lured by anything or by anyone.

This was my comprehension, because the Media professionals of my time were like that.   They were the role model for the youngsters. They were so simple but commanded a supreme respect from the highest office. The journalists of our time  and their long association of which I am really proud of are still my friends even to this day. of course many of them are no more with us today. It is not an exaggeration to say that we really were proud to be a friend of some journalist. And for me they were celebrities. Of course not of the glamour world of cinema or of horse racing.  For them it was their adventurous path of free expression. It was an inborn talent of great integrity and  a fearless life.Their knowledge about almost everything right from science, literature, music, dance, cinema, and very importantly political field. But they had their own political affiliation with an undying commitment. In fact they used to follow their own leaders of their ideology. But their identification with their political expression was not on or for sale. Right from top most political leaders to top most government employees  bureaucrats or officials in police department, or judiciary respected them and trusted them. Though they were very near to government power it never occurred to them they could exploit anybody for their  personal benefit. So nobody dared to bribe them. They were simply clean and very powerful. More than poets, writers, artists it was journalists I always thought were very special. Because all other people wanted them for their growth. May be the time was not ripen for a metamorphosis!!! Then...Or may be they were not very practical personalities with a positive attitude! as it is named today....

My association with English journalists was not very large, a few I knew through my Kannada journalist friends. Just to give an idea of our hero worship of our times, my dream was to become a journalist and work as reporter in any dailies ( In seventies there were only  Prajavani, Samyukta Karnataka and Kannada Prabha dailies and other few weeklies). but I never even dreamed  to become an engineer or a doctor (May be we were neither meritoriously fit nor financially feasible) or an accountant in any bank which were secured and most respected and accepted job.

One of the jokes in those days about the financial stability of journalists was that journalism was not a salaried job or a profession but it was a hobby which would never guarantee you the financial assistance. Indeed people were reluctant give their daughter to any journalist in marriage as they feared that their daughter would suffer with such outlandish and indifferent reckless irresponsible characters who were broadly committed to social causes through their profession. Indeed it was a joke but it was a great compliment for their true love and passion where money or regular income  was secondary. It was their passion and ferocious self respect and honesty  loaded with dedication and love for  their expression of simplicity and of course most conspicuous and glaring undisciplined  life. Intellectual giants with little egocentric behavior with  an equally eccentric attitude..Many may think that they are too self centered. Yes..indeed, they were.. but they always had their head  above their shoulder.

I often used to wonder how could they live just on cigarettes or beedis and countless cups of coffees and with always an empty stomach. No regular timely meals like many mortals.They were symbols of rebellions.'Don't care' or 'care free' attitude always attracted me. I did live sometimes with them for a quite sufficient time to encounter their habitat. Ii is really frightening. The so called room was empty expect for all news papers and scattered and few ash trays lying haphazardly. A kerosene stove without kerosene and one can make out it was not in use for a long time. The few cooking vessels not with any dishes but with water. One or two dresses hanging here and there to a nail on the wall.They always fascinate me as they always stand significantly different from others.It seems there is a rejection of everything on which  the blind society is standing on and for.

I don't know whether to name  some of my close journalist friends with whom I stayed and did enjoy a quite challenging life. They may feel bad or proud as I feel about those days which were really pathetic according to the social standard. But for me it was a great period of rare experience and challenge of which I really enjoy recollecting those free life. The zeal and enthusiasm of life was so great and we were so naive about the realities of life, even we romanticized the death in our intoxicating dreams.

I am not a journalist by profession, but a teacher, fortunately I was blessed with the wonderful company of well read individuals with unbound and  unlimited knowledge and information. Till today, all most nearly four decades of my association, our friendship and attachment have stood as solidly as it was in our distress.  Of course number of friends have dwindled to only a few.  The common thing that brought us together was no doubt writing, literature, music, theatre and other cultural activities. In those days many young poets, short story writers novelists, scholars. critics, artists, painters, and theater artists were all in close reachable vicinity. Invariably the common meeting place for all were Kalakshetra, Kalasampada  (Near Minarva circle  close to NMH hotel),

Central college library, Air line hotel (no more in existence now) and of course the restaurant near present Indian express.(Now it is demolished). Theater was at its peak. Karnad's TugalaQ was running, and Sophocles's Oedipus was much talked about. Press people were inseparable part of all those activities. Nagesh, Prasanna and many others were making their in roads into the playwright field. Lnakesh, Ananta moorty, Karnad and Karanth  were on the lime light. Samskara had created whirl pool in the stagnated   Kannada cinema of that day.

It was a golden era of Kannada theatre activities. It was the center of theatre, experimental cinema. A great migration was seen with the entry of Nasiruddin shaw,Amarish puri. Amol Palekar from Bombay. They were all basically from Pune Film Institute. Samskara bagged the best film golden lotus award. We felt as if the award was personally handed over to us by president himself. There was an air of excitement everywhere.  And there were up coming star like  Mohan, Ananth nag Sundaraj, Ramesh and many others. Many new comers with theatre background were creating a mark in the field. After Samskara  many films followed. Many of them got national awards. Kanranth, Kasaravalli, Nagabharana,  for their Ondanondu kaladalli, Ghata Shraddha.and Grahana respectively.

Behind all these hectic activities the journalists were playing a major role as critics and as promoters. There were people like  Khadri Shamanna of Kannada Prabha, YNK of Prajavani, Jayasheela Rao and Shama Rao of Samyukta karnataka.  In literature the names of  KuVeMpu, Bendre, Karanth, Adiga, Gokak and other stalwarts of that period were slowly being replaced by people like  modern era  like Ananta  murty, Lankesh, Alanahally, Champa,  PattanaShetty and many others.The famous writers  like  AnaKru , Tarasu, Triveni, Beechi and others were drifting slowly into the background. Domination of Kumars were coming to a gradual end in the field of cinema. In their place, Vishnu, Ananth, Shankar nag and guest artists like Sundarakrishna Urs, Sundaraj, Ramesh, Vaishaali, Somashekar and many other artists with theatre background made their presence felt in the field of cinema and theatre. Among cameraman Ramachandra stood out separately. True to his unique creative mind he remained unsalable till the last.

So my life in Bangalore was revolving mainly among college lecturers, university professors, theater artists, radio Artists, experimental film personalities who were more or less the product of kalakShetra and journalists. who  were synonymous with intellectual expression in any media or field. There was a strong wind of left ideology and   socialism of Lohia blowing through the Ramakrishna lodge  (demolished) Ananda rao circle, Central college, and Gandhi bazaar. The center of interaction was KalakShetra.

I still remember vividly the room in which I used to stay along with my friends in a old two rooms side by side horizontally,next to which there was a bath-room and Toilet without roof in Sushila road near Minarva circle. Among the large number of friend circle, four to five of us were regular and permanent settlers of that room. And there  were innumerable number of people used to throng on some days. Smoking and playing cards were the main activities in between some time singing of  film songs and serious  discussion of socialism, Marxism, literature etc.The discussions were really educative as they were always highly analytical and unbiased.One should have been a person with a decent general knowledge even to try to understand the tone of their discussion. It was out of question to be a active participant. I was a silent listener. Right from Robert Herrick to Alex Hally, Hoysala architecture to pyramids of Egypt, Thyagaraja to jazz....almost everything of that was relevant of that  period were discussed furiously.

Yes journalists of those time were really something special with their characters. May be their needs must have been limited as compared to today's materialistic demands coupled with challenging shift in the very concept of life. For example the days when honesty, punctuality and contentment were virtues of ones uncompromising personality have become negative attitude and non-competitiveness. The very concept of great Buddha about renunciation is challenged today. Desire is the root cause of all miseries he said. But that philosophy is branded as the slogan of "unfit for survival". Toady's philosophy or ideology is 'the more greedy you are the more successful you will be". Even the sadhus of corporate world ( I call them hi-fi or soft ware  Sanyaasis.) preach, there is nothing wrong in desiring and dreaming to be successful in their carrier. Sure the time is changed. But is this change of moral bankruptcy we ever anticipated? As the money is making its way into the pockets of journalists, so the efficiency and the originality have drained out. With their limited talent they have spread their mediocrity in all fields of life. Be it cinema, poetry, drama, painting or  music. The standard and the taste and the needed innovations are glaringly lacking. The public is forced to enjoy whatever they produce. No choice....poor audience.. Many journalists who started as writers or for designation sake as sub editors of magazine section, or news editors or translators and editing or selecting the stories, or poems or writing the reviews for films on Fridays for new releases and reporters of the current events. They are sharp enough to make best use of their professional connection to their personal ends. The result is many of them are writing screen plays and even stories for many T.V serials.Of course it is not a crime. They have all the freedom to express their talent. I don have any objection. But the reason behind these exercises of exploiting the media itself, are they  really capable ones? My answer would be 99% NO... And that question bothers me most. They learn the simple formula of  a laid out generalized trade secret and write the story. The word the extension of stories is new. The original story writer is someone but that is being developed endlessly for years!! Really a great skill and an unique talent!! Misleading the audience and take them for granted when once you test their pulse of interest. And the saddest part is that the people are so serial addicts that they forget to think that they are taken for a ride by the Director and the others involved in it. This has taken away the people from being active in every aspect. It is quite unfortunate. Is there any director or producer or story writer etc to answer the product they are presenting to the society is really worth in any way? The formula of TV serial is more deteriorating than films. The same story of vengeance, revenge, which continues for ever. The whole psychology behind the audience gluing to the screen is just all of them want  always the good,  winning over the evil which is given a turn and twist regularly.And of course this type of cliche has been presented by our mediocre films.Should we call it as talent? Only consolation for me is that the artists and other crew members  are getting jobs. That is all. And that too because  they dream to attain the fame, name and money in limited stardom  of TV glamour over night.

And in the name of  journalism like covering the news live, or reporting, analysis and interviews, live coverage and  other   unavoidable interactions has brought a very rare symbiotic  relationship between a politician or a high profile public figure and the journalist where both are mutually benefited and permanently interdependent.As politicians are invariably related to bad elements of the society even the underworld. There is a historical nexus between politicians and Rowdies (goons). Now that empire has spread its borders to so called creative people. Indirectly they are in the same star company. May be in the disguise of followers of politicians and  fans of journalists!! In this process automatically the unwanted bad elements of the society are drawn nearer to the intellectual circle. It is extremely dangerous trend. Even we have been witnessing the so called intellectuals giving sweeping statements to please some one. Nobody knows for sure the real stand of these opportunists. Let the topic may be anything they want sound special and separate from others. They always play for  the gallery. Remember, politicians, journalists, intellectuals, artists,  goons, Mafia dons, gangs have been directly or indirectly linked together. This development has created a dangerously volatile situation. But don't worry... All is well....Ones ego is taken care of!! and others pocket is taken care of!! Great! Fair enough..

Nowadays nobody is talking about the salary in the Field of mass media. The very word Salary is out of course...for some mortals are still are forced to say the same word salary)  it should be an annual package of lakhs. New words deal, package have replaced the worn out words like remuneration, token etc..There was a time when one of my friends was asked about his monthly salary, his jovial reply was "getting  thousand rupees" and after a deliberate pause he used to complete his answer saying "for four months!! Income was secondary when compared to their spirit of life.Now there will be no zeal without money! Lobbying, Sycophancy, hypocrisy and collusion  have become the order of the day. They can stoop to any level to get their work done.

In desiring, dreaming and pursuing them, have we not become more and more self centred and cut throats of  hypocrisy of highest order? We have lost somewhere the sense of vision. Nobody seems to be caring about the society as a whole.There is total moral bankruptcy! There is no much time, not from work but from non stop 24X7 entertainment. Any time of the day, any place on this earth and any type of entertainment is O.K. Just go on and on browsing your system or changing the channels in your T.V sets. So there is hardly any time left to think even, forget  to think  seriously. When reading itself is becoming a rare habit, how can you think of writing. As there is no need of writing even letters which has really blunted some of the surprise talents.Nehru's letters written to his daughter is a classic example for the art of writing letter and there by evolving as a creative writer. Many people do have a flair for writing. Now that opportunity is not there as mobile does the duty of communication and postal department. Slowly they have become non thinkers with hardly any imagination left of their own. Today you have access to everything. No question of going to library or searching or reference books for hours, days, why? even in some cases months. The remotest possible information is available on the net at your finger tips.So the brain has very little thing to do and  think apart from the casual computerized official work.

This kind of luxurious but lazy life has become dream of everyone. And for everything you need money. And to get that money, you are prepared to compromise on anything. Let there be flow of money uninterrupted of which we can go to any extent to become socially lethargic and thus we have become great escapists.The world around us is beautiful. Is int it? just look at the malls, theaters, clubs, soft ware companies with unseen and unmatched architecture of which we cannot even dream of ( yet they are monotonously repeated structure of concrete and galas)  We have built a strong and impregnable  fort around our happiness. Beyond our happiness we fail to see anything. We are colour blinded type. We  only see the attractive side of the city and life and scared to see ugly reality of which we are selectively blind or shall I say steel heart robots.

More money, more glamour and more compromises. Nothing wrong. They ( those who are in power or popular in any journalists, artists, literary figures, but should be known?) are the guardians of the morality of the society. So it is they who judge what is right what is wrong or which is human, or secular, non secular according to their convenience.Whether they are right or wrong, we are not right. With the corruption looming large at and  around in the society, journalist the mentors cant sit and watch helplessly and idly. Make the hey while the sun shines. It is time for perfect black mail of kind in the present situation. No fidelity, no ability but why not our own stability and security. What do you loose? Now it is a vast field. Reap anything you want anywhere you like and anytime you can harvest.

Once journalists were the voice of the oppressed and the poor and also society as whole. They were the guardians of democracy and humanity. But now unfortunately the voice of the people is muted by the very amplifier which was once echoing in all directions of the society for Nobel and just as great journalists.As teachers are suppose to be the mentor of the young generation so are the journalists should take the responsibility to display in all its effectiveness the decaying and decomposing body of the social and moral body of the present turbulent but confusing period. May be, who knows? it might be a transitional stage. The people are forced to be muted and the people who are responsible are mutated for the worst. The glittering life style is an aberration for social evolution.

The principle behind the  frequent and  great migrations of journalists talent in recent time is quite disgusting.Nobody knows for sure who is where or when he is joining or leaving. The main intention of leaving the post they are holding which they have joined and served for several years, where they got their recognition and identity as they are now called senior journalists is unethical to the core. Editors behave as if the news media is their own mouth piece as their designation is changed to It is disgusting to see many popular editors or sub-editors or reporters or columnists or layout artists use their media for their personal purposes and gain. Poor juniors have to follow their seniors depending on their annual package. By virtue of their seniority and connections, these seniors behave like gang leaders. Wherever the leaders go the followers bee behind them. No self esteem or self respect but the weight of the package is always expected.  And really I am at loss to comprehend  as to how and why so and so becomes so costly and important when these are ideologically not reliable nor professionally  very significant. Their contribution to the field is not traceable except for the printed name with their post. Editorials are guided and tailored by big houses.Of course nobody cares to read and comment or respect their opinions. Sometimes some of the readers letters or more convincing and effective than some of the present editorials of some news papers. About news channels only god should help us from them and their views,opinion, interpretations and analysis. Especially the TV channels are owned by some of the political bigwigs to show their muscles. But it is a surprise that these journalists have stooped to such a level that anyone can buy them for their channel or dailies to project their self interest in their own way. Everyone knows who is who and on whose side they are and their affinity to any of the present prominent parties. Today I fail to understand the spirit of journalism and the dignified soul of journalists.In the present prevailing atmosphere you cant remain neutral. You have to be on some ones side. Then why not go after a winning horse which might give you very good bet!

I am writing this with a quite heavy heart but in a sarcastic way which definitely irks many journalist friends. But latest developments around me and what I have been witnessing myself in news, entertainment and information in  both print media and television media for few years, have forced me to muse over my own acquaintance with the people whom I admired and respected and did live and enjoyed the real adventurous and serving the social justice and cause.It was a lovely journey of real face of humanity with them the path they tread, the life they chose and lead were simply exemplary. No doubt the life is too demanding but one should be self abounding.The situation is too tempting to be neglected but one should not be carried away easily.

So, we are at the cross roads today. At this time of great churning it becomes really a great challenge to not only to journalists or a set of professional and socially responsible and popular people but to everyone.We should strive hard to  retain our moral and social obligations and to remain firmly to our ground realities and ethical values. Difficult times ahead for the muted and the mutated ones!!

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