As the Tarun Tejpal story continues to grab media attention, with some of the media dubbing it as ‘Tejpalgate’, debates on sexual harassment at the workplace, powerful men vs subordinate women are all over national television.
The living room TV has become theatre, as experts and ‘important’ voices debate the hot button issue. Some of the loudest of those voices is that of Times Now news anchor Arnab Goswami, moderating discussions in the hi-octane Arnab style which has now become his hallmark.
On November 25, well-known advertising professional Alyque Padamsee was invited to a debate on the current Tarun Tejpal case and the alleged Tehelka cover-up. As the speakers and Arnab were shouting, one could see Alyque becoming increasingly irked as he was trying to finish his argument.
Towards the close of the show, Alyque was heard telling Arnab, “I would never want to come on your channel again,” even as Arnab was trying to say thanks. It was theatre more than television.
Alyque said in a phone interview post the show, “I told Arnab after the debate, that I will cast him in my next play. Arnab told me: I am not an actor, but I told him, yes you are and you act very well on television.” Alyque laughed as he called Arnab “basically a bully, who sets his agenda. He should let us speak, otherwise, why does he call us on the show? In fact, I sent Arnab this message via SMS just after the telecast of the show on Monday night. ‘Just to clarify Arnab: I believe men in power intimidate employees and feel they can do whatever they want without being answerable. They think they can get away with anything. This is such a horrible state of affairs, and such men should be punished severely.’
Alyque also said that Arnab was shouting, “but he did not realize I am a trained actor and can shout louder than him. In fact, post-show I got several lovely messages saying that Arnab was put in his place.” Alyque said he is a champion of women’s rights and has been fighting for them since the 1980s, through his work like anti-dowry documentary films, for which he faced a lot of flak and “rude letters from men”. Terming women “fantastic creatures”, Alyque also said that Arnab tried to put words into his mouth, and, “like he usually does, pushes guests into a corner. However, everything was taken in the right spirit after the show (laughs). In fact, I told him that I am going to take you in my next play because yours is an entertainment channel.”
News anchor Arnab Goswami, editor-in-chief and hi-decibel face of Times Now laughed as he reacted, “Alyque can call me whatever colourful names he wants to call me (laughed and asked this journalist, are you doing a ‘story’ on this?) he is free to say what he wants but the fact of the matter is that I objected to certain objectionable references he made in the debate. I believe when something is inappropriate then it is my duty to protect my beliefs.”
When Arnab was told that Alyque said he pushed his guests into a corner, Arnab said, “Alyque is too senior for me to get into this,” and added, “People heard what he said on the show, and I needed to object to it and so I did it on the channel, watched by millions.”