Ravish Kumar’s Words On ‘Shut Up Ya Kunal’ Leave You Stirred
Do we have the courage to ask the questions that need to be asked? Journalist Ravish Kumar gets you thinking.
Democracy has become defensive.
Ravish Kumar’s resigned smile is a chilling indicator. He sits across stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra, legs crossed, hands on the armrests, placidly laying out the unvarnished truth.
“Ab aap Bharat ki rajneeti mein phas gaaye ho. Girna aapko hai.’’
The latest episode of ‘Shut Up Ya Kunal’ doesn’t mince words. You get what you see. There is absolutely no shilly-shallying when it comes to the elephant in the room:
The heartbeat of a democracy.
“Sawaal karne se badi koi desh seva nai hai,” remarks the senior journalist, while his book ‘The Free Voice’, lies on the table before him. He makes it clear that the decision to question the status quo is the only way to ensure a fair system of political checks and balances.
Kamra, an evident fan of Kumar, talks very less and sticks to the bare minimum. He questions Kumar and pat comes the reply, unfazed, resolute, and unguarded. On being asked why he doesn’t reveal much about his personal life, he replies, “Kahaani sunakar khud ko bechna nai hai na.”
There is a difference, he claims, a little while later, between “news samjhana” and “news banana”, on being prodded by Kamra.
The reporter has been replaced in the newsroom.
By the anchor.
With showmanship in tow.
The bawling, flailing of arms, and refusal to accommodate other perspectives have quashed alternative voices completely. To an extent where questioning those in power is a crime.
There is a visceral ‘patriotism’ stirring the nation today and Kumar’s words unmask all of it with three neat words:
“Pucchna crime hai.”
Our TV screens have been seized, Kumar rues, and we hardly realise it. The truth, in order to be exposed by TV channels, requires resources, time, and investment. But there is a way around always, right?
What do news channels stand to gain though, asks Kamra. One gets to utilize less resources, Kumar says. “Jhoot hi toh faylana hai.”
Mass media has diverted our attention from jobs, education, and social well-being to well-orchestrated ‘news’ and the common man is bearing the brunt of it all.
There is a raw energy that takes over the screen once Kumar starts talking. You start pondering as he talks and keep pondering even after he stops.
The young are redirected to Kim Jong’s marital life when they switch on their TV sets, while the old, Kumar claims with a sense of foreboding, are quite close to being relegated to the background... hands folded, voices stifled.
“Mujhe manzoor nahi hai,” bemoans Kumar while talking about L.K Advani’s gradual erasure from collective consciousness.
“Gareeb log barbad ho gaye hai...”
The self-congratulatory nature of the dominant political narrative is the kind of vulgarity Kumar isn’t okay with. Our “democratic instinct,” he says, is being bludgeoned to death.
Kumar’s answers leave you unsettled, anxious, and rearing to go. Do we have the courage to ask the questions that need to be asked?
Why are there no teachers in our classrooms?
Why are women not receiving child-care leave in sarkari banks?
Why are women working till 9pm in sarkari banks?
Why are our news channels not talking about the dismal state of schools, colleges and hospitals in the country?
Why have the cashiers, who were made to pay hefty amounts (as fine) during the note ban, not been reimbursed?
Can we afford a complete erosion of the very rights promised to us?
But with resistance, comes repercussions. And Kumar is ready to face all. ‘PM Ke Dwara Hataya Gaya Bharat Ka Pehla Patrakar’ - A headline he wouldn’t mind. Someone has to raise the questions, right? “Taqleef hoti hai,” he says with a sigh.
The sixth episode will leave you stirred. Take my word for it. It will also put things in perspective: We are all quite scr**ed, stuck in a vicious web with our netas and their politics.
The important thing to remember is that Kumar is no Noam Chomsky. Neither are you or I. There is no party or ‘ideology’ weaved into our daily grind. Our interests lie in our well-being. The details.
The space to question what doesn’t sit well with you.
The 38-minute interview is mostly a serious one. But there are clips in between that provide quite a bit of tragicomic relief. Modiji’s catchphrases are weaved in with astute precision.
Former Times Now news anchor Arnab Goswami is seen in a heated debate with Opposition leaders, almost commanding them to “give up”- “Do NOT talk about Una, Rohit Vemula, lynchings, JNU, FTII...’’
You also watch Advani Ji on tenter hooks (at a political event with Modiji) while ‘Tujhe Yaad Na Meri Aayi’ plays in the background. When that is not enough, there are some rib-tickling boomerang-ish clips to keep you absorbed.
You laugh out loud, but the lesson hits home almost instantly.
Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.