In a May 2009 interview with senior journalist Anil Thakraney in Impact magazine, former editor, columnist and television personality Vir Sanghvi said the following on being asked about who’s his favourite TV journo — Arnab, Rajdeep or Barkha: “Barkha. Because of her range of programmes. I think she’s India’s best reporter. She does ‘The buck stops here’, which is a serious political programme. She also does Oprah-like ‘We the People’. Rajdeep is a brilliant journalist, but I can’t see people opening up and crying to Rajdeep. And Arnab is very good at just one thing, doing that one discussion show, but that’s it.”
Nearly five years later and four years after the Radia tapes controversy, I would say Vir’s words still hold true. Barkha Dutt is undoubtedly better in doing certain kind of shows. Indeed she isn’t as argumentative and offensive as Arnab Goswami is. She’s possibly not as versatile as Rajdeep is who is as comfortable with a cricketer and a film star as he is with politicians.
But on Sunday evening, her show called ‘Political Roots’ is something that I don’t think an Arnab or a Rajdeep or anyone else would be able to do as well. Save on getting them to do a high five on various issues, she got both Chandan Mitra and Shashi Tharoor to reminisce their St Stephen’s days and also talk about their political leanings in a nice, easy way.
And then last night I watched the all-new politician and Congressman Nandan Nilekani talking to CNN-IBN and NDTV.
Rajdeep could be seen making that extra effort in doing an interview with smiles and an understated tone, but not so with Barkha who didn’t really need to put on an act. She was her natural self.
Which is why I spent some hours digging out soft copies of the pages of that old Vir Sanghvi interview to re-read his comments. The Radia tapes controversy has of course impacted my views on Barkha much. As I have written earlier, she ought to have apologised for her act.
She didn’t. And there was no remorse. Quite like the way a certain political party leader who’s making a pitch for the Big Job has behaved thus far?