>> On Saturday Aamir Khan in a white shirt and jeans that complemented wife Kiran Rao’s long white tunic was looking at least 10 kilos lighter than his Satyamev Jayate self. “He’s working very hard at his fitness,” said wife Kiran “to prepare for his Dhoom 3 role”.
Not only did Aamir look leaner and meaner but also he had the skin of an eighteen year old. “I drink four litres of water a day,” he told us as a prelude to disclosing his fitness regime” when Arnab Goswami standing nearby quipped. “Yes, that’s why at 47 you look 30 and at 39 I look fifty!”
We had met Arnab seven years ago when he’d recently come in to Mumbai to create a TV presence for the TOI. Being TV news junkies, we had been watching him daily since then and have become familiar with his browbeating campaigning approach to interviews.
This did not square up with our memory of the exquisitely mannered and soft-spoken man we had met and it had puzzled us.
Sunday’s meeting cleared this confusion. There in fact are two Arnabs: one is a Clark Kentish character that wouldn’t hurt a fly-and the other is the man who strains at the leash to save the world from daily annihilation.
I asked Arnab if just a teeny bit of his outrage was er … market driven? He disagreed. “Each evening I go by my gut instinct on which stories we’re going to run with,” he said. “At the end of the day passion and belief is what counts.”
We believe him, and are happy to report that away from a TV studio he is the same gentle Oxonian with a slightly absent minded air as ever.
So if you see a man changing into a costume in a telephone booth — you know who that is.
War in Kolkata
>> It is the beginning of an era. The storming of the bastions and a move that has got the media world abuzz. Word has it that when the country’s largest media conglomerate, Bennett, Coleman and Company Ltd (BCCL), launches their Bangla newspaper in Kolkata and take on the Aveek Sarkar’s family-owned Anandabazar Patrika (ABP) at the end of the year, there’ll be blood on the streets (or something more genteel given the Bengali setting-perhaps strident Robindro Sangeet?)
This is because while The Times of India is the largest broadsheet daily in the country; Anandabazar Patrika is the largest Bangla newspaper by far. According to the latest Audit Bureau of Circulation figures, ABP has a circulation of nearly 12,50,000, while its nearest competitor, Bartaman, has a circulation of 5,34,000 copies. The concern is about how Aveek babu, its larger than life publisher, will respond to a direct challenge to what was his unmatched dominion of the State’s media scene.
‘Et tu Brutus?’ is an apt way to describe the TOI’s move. Of course said in a Bengali accent.
A prayer for Captain Lakshmi
>> This column is sending out a prayer for Captain Lakshmi Sahgal the 97-year-old revolutionary whose health remains a concern as she has slipped in to a coma last week. Mother to the CPM leader Suhasini Ali and grandmother to filmmaker Shaad Ali, Sehgal served as the commander of INA’s Rani Jhansi Regiment and was a minister of women’s affairs in the Azad Hind government.
A woman of legendary courage and spirit we wish her a speedy recovery and hope to celebrate her centenary birthday with the kind of honor she deserves.
>> Hmmm, interesting. Which top media maven let it slip that as far as corruption stakes go, a certain leader of an opposition party is not very far behind a ruling party ally. “Money makes their world go round” was the description. Our lips are sealed.
Top Media Gathering
>> Saturday evening saw us cut short our Delhi trip to attend Anu and Uday Shankar’s dinner at his striking home in an old Malabar Hill mansion for what he described as “an informal evening with a bunch of friends.”
Uday is the CEO of Star India network but wears his success lightly despite the fact that STAR India is one of the country’s leading media house and is said to have the highest footprint among the country’s broadcasters, beaming to over 168 million people every week across India and over 65 countries across the world.
Uday, a print journalist who was appointed to head the Murdoch operation following Peter Mukerjee and Samir Nair’s departure from the network when both their jobs were merged in to one, has been something of a wunderkind.
As head of content as well as top management dog he bit the bullet by taking some very contentious tough decisions like pulling the plug on the Ektaa Kapoor Saas Bahu serials that were past their shelf life.
Fortunately for him his acumen paid off and today he’s regarded as TV’s blue-eyed boy especially after roping in Aamir to make his TV debut on his channel with Satyamev Jayate.
At Saturday’s dinner jointly hosted by him and his lovely wife Anu, they were all there: Aamir Khan and Kiran Rao, Arnab Goswami, Prasoon Joshi, Prasoon Pandey, the TOI’s Jaideep Bose, Tata Sons’ Ishaat Hussain, ADAG’s Amitabh Jhunjhunwala — men and women who control huge swathes of our mind space with their output.
Incidentally for a self-confessed health and fitness nut Uday sure provides as much delicious food on the table as food for thought.
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