We were in Mumbai during the horrific attack by Pakistani terrorists in November 2008. Watching Indian TV News during those days was an amazing experience. Every TV network went into competitive overdrive to show every part of the commando operation against terrorists holed up in the hotels. We saw live footage of commandos landing on the roof of buildings. The terrorists themselves could watch the commandos on the television screens in their hideouts.
Indian TV networks did not seem to care that they might be helping the terrorists by showing live footage of military action. Presumably the rationale of each network was that if they did not show the action, a competing network would.
A gripping story of the intense competition among Indian TV News Networks can be seen in the movie “Rann” (war). Directed by the veteran Ram Gopal Verma, it is an intense, taut drama.
This is the story of two 24-hour News channels, India 24 & Headline 24. India 24 is run by the veteran Vijay Mallick who believes in ethical journalism. He has become the most trusted journalist in India by his unswerving commitment to truth. Headline 24 is run by an ex-employee of India 24. He is beating India 24 in ratings by delivering news blended with sensationalism. India 24 is beginning to lose major sponsors as well as ratings. Mr. Mallick’s son Jai persuades his father to let him run the business end of the Network. Jai ends up listening to his businessman brother-in-law who is in cahoots with a politician with ambitions to become the Prime Minister.
As the Times of India writes, “Rann is a film that simply reiterates something you always knew.” But that is what gives the film its raw authenticity. As the reviewer writes, “news is not always credible. That, the fine line between hard news and frothy entertainment is fast blurring. That, news is not brought to you by news hounds alone. There is a politician-businessman-news baron nexus at work that reduces the actual news reporter to a puppet on a chain. Not always, only sometimes. And `sensationalism’ isn’t only the new buzzword in the business of news; it’s fast becoming a synonym for it. “
The film scores big with its handling of every day reality. It is fast, tight, intense and raw. Events unfold before your eyes and grip you. The performances are a treat. The legendary Amitabh Bachchan is superb as the iconic Vijay Mallick. Paresh Rawal is awesome as the utterly unscrupulous politician. Mohnish Behl plays the role of a hard charging network executive who will do anything for ratings. Perhaps the best role is that of Mallick’s son who gets in bed with the devil and gets damned. His imperfections, his complexes about being Vijay Mallick’s son and his slow but inevitable entrapment by the politician-business complex are handled superbly.
In our opinion, every American TV Anchor, Reporter and Executive should watch “Rann“. The American West had a saying “there is no law west of Dodge and no God west of the Pecos”. The movie “Rann” takes you in to an environment where there is no law and where the only God is ratings.
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