What really happened during Karan Thapar’s interview with Jayalalithaa

This is with reference to a 2004 BBC World ‘HARDtalk India’ programme where Karan Thapar interviewed Tamil Nadu’s CM J Jayalalithaa. The series producer of the programme, Ashok Upadhyay, has written an article which can be read here –

http://www.dailyo.in/politics/jayalalithaa-karan-thapar-interview-aiadmk-hardtalk-india-bbc-sonia-gandhi/story/1/14409.html

It seems that there is an attempt being made to give a spin that it was actually Karan Thapar who came out as a hero in the episode.  There are, of course, two parts of the story.  What happened before and after the interview, and what happened in the interview itself.  The before and after part is well known.  However, I think that in the interview itself, Jayalalithaaji did outsmart Karanji.

What is interesting in this article is the following: “After it was aired, we were flooded with requests from her rivals, particularly the DMK, to give them a cassette of the interview. They were thrilled. They thought Karan had demolished the iconic Jayalalithaa in the interview and it may help them electorally.”  So, it was not only Karanji and his team, but also the political rivals.  It seems to me that both the groups are completely out of touch with what the people at large perceive.

Here is the full video of the interview –

This is not the first time that the ‘elite’ in the TV think one way and the viewers have an opposite point of view.  It happened in an interview of Dr Pravinbhai Togadia of the VHP.  In an article on the subject, Dileep Padgaonkar wrote at the beginning: “Did we botch it? Karan Thapar had invited Neerja Chowdhary of the Indian Express and me to question Dr Praveen Togadia on a programme he anchors for Sab TV.”

And ends with:

But our naivete didn’t quite end there. In a chat after the recording some of us, studio hands included, were of the view that we had revealed Togadia in his true colours. But those who had watched the programme and spoken to me about it seemed to suggest otherwise. In Hyderabad, for instance, a bright young businessman with both an IIT and an IIM background put it bluntly: “Togadia had you folks all tied up in knots.” The reaction spells more trouble ahead than we had anticipated so far. Time for an ‘agonising re-appraisal’ of the secular creed?

-Dileep Padgaonkar, “Wages of naivete”, The Times of India, February 08, 2003.

Full article at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/sunday-times/all-that-matters/Wages-of-naivete/articleshow/36893901.cms

One has to realise that the mainstream media’s disconnect with its viewers has a history, in this case more than 13 years.  And the reason why they remain disconnected even today, because there has not been any reappraisal of the secular creed, agonizing or otherwise.

About the Author

Ashok Chowgule
Working President (External), Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bharat.