Jan 11/10

New Delhi, A new breed of filmmakers is now busy turning the tables on the fourth estate with movies like “Paa” and “Rann”. Incidentally, both star Amitabh Bachchan who often takes potshots at the media in real life.

Promos of director Ram Gopal Varma’s “Rann” clearly suggest he is making an attempt to expose errant journalists and their often wanton ways, particularly those from the electronic media.

“No one is taking the media head-on here. However, what is going to happen for sure is that ‘Rann’ will expose the media in its nakedness,” Varma was quoted as saying by a website.

The director had got a raw deal from the media when he visited the Taj hotel complex in Mumbai post-26/11 with the then chief minister of Maharashtra. The media alleged that he went there to get material for his films.

Amitabh, who plays media mogul Vijay Harshvardhan Malik in the film, has often castigated journalists on his blog.

“They (the media) have simply no sense of ethics or etiquette, even at a most sensitive moment in the life of an individual. The way they scream and shout and push and stampede around is atrocious. There is no concern or respect either, for the temperament of the occasion. Their only interest is in getting that exclusive photograph and that exclusive byte – at any cost,” Amitabh posted on his blog May 3 from his bungalow Prateeksha in Mumbai.

He referred to an incident after his mother Teji Bachchan died.

“At the time of the passing away of my mother, they had the temerity to push a mike in front of Abhishek as we emerged from the ’shamshan bhumi’ and demand ‘Toh…bataiye kaisa lag raha hai (‘So tell me how does it feel?),” he had posted on his blog.

But despite his antipathy towards the media, Amitabh had expressed a desire to be a “journalist” in his “next life”.

He will be seen as a media mogul fighting for survival in “Rann”. The film is expected to show how the media sometimes has no choice but to corrupt itself if it is to be a money-making enterprise.

Something similar was seen in Amitabh’s home production “Paa”. In the film, Abhishek plays a young politician who works for the upliftment of the poor. But his opponent uses the media to tarnish his name and later Abhishek busts the politician-journalist nexus.

In the 2008 movie “Shaurya”, Minissha Lamba was seen as a journalist who capitalises on the quotes of Rahul Bose without his knowing to boost the sale of her newspaper and her own visibility.

Even Madhur Bhandarkar’s “Page 3″ (2005) referred to how the media works hand in glove with the system.

Shah Rukh Khan’s 2000 release “Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani” was a satirical take on the media’s insensitive approach and showed how, for higher TRPs, two rival channels fabricate news.

So far there have been few Bollywood films on the media, though some have left a lasting impression.

In 1986, Romesh Sharma’s hard hitting poltical drama “New Delhi Times” told the story of an honest journalist Vikas Pande (Shashi Kapoor). Set in Ghazipur in eastern Uttar Pradesh, the film showed how polticians and media barons work in tandem and how Vikas becomes a victim of the courrupt system.

Three years later came “Main Azaad Hoon”. In it, Shabana Azmi featured as a journalist called Subhashini who works for a daily newspaper and often invites controversy thanks to her bold articles against corrupt politicians. Then the company’s management changes hand and Subhashini manipulates the new owner for her survival. Amitabh was seen as a pawn used by Subhashini in the film.

Kundan Shah also exposed the media in his 1983 cult film “Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron” through the character Shobha Sen, played by well-known theatre personality Bhakti Barve.

The media and film fraternity are often at loggerheads. Recently the furore between Tamil Nadu’s film industry and local media over a sleaze story led to the arrest and subsequent release of a journalist.

The story, alleging that many southern Indian actresses were running sex shops in the city, invited a strong reaction from the film industry, leading to the arrest of B. Lenin, news editor of Tamil daily Dinamalar, which in turn triggered instant protests from journalists. The news editor was however released on unconditional bail within 48 hours.