rediff.com

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  

Rediff News  All News 
Rediff.com  » News » In defence of Prasoon Joshi

In defence of Prasoon Joshi

Last updated on: May 06, 2018 18:23 IST

'Would you as the PM go through all the elaborate trouble of an interview, face all the tough questions from dogged journalists, who know what they are talking about, and yet end up with a result where more people are talking about the journalist than you?'
'It begs the question: Why go with an amateur when you can draft a professional?'
'Hence, I suspect, an adman.'
'In other words, let's cut to the chase: Thanda matlab Coca Cola!' notes Udit Misra.

Prasoon Joshi, left, quizzes Prime Minister Narendra D Modi at the Bharat Ki Baat event in London, April 18, 2018. Photograph: Press Information Bureau
IMAGE: Prasoon Joshi, left, quizzes Prime Minister Narendra D Modi at the Bharat Ki Baat event in London, April 18, 2018. Photograph: Press Information Bureau

I just do not get why so many people have been so harsh on Prasoon Joshi for his recent interview of Prime Minister Narendra D Modi in London.

One fellow I met kept referring him to "Bassoon" Joshi. And there are more than a few articles panning him.

For my part, I just find that people are barking up the wrong tree. For many who are criticising him now, Mr Joshi was a great wordsmith, a poet even -- "was", mind you -- who had no reason to, for the lack of a more accurate phrase, "stoop to this level".

But this sentiment seems to conflate Mr Joshi's ability to evocatively articulate different emotions and views, either in verse or in prose, with hardcore political journalism.

In that sense, focusing on Mr Joshi is missing the wood for the trees.

With so much focus on him, ironically, no one seems to be talking about the PM, who incidentally, declared that he was not a fakir (a mendicant) as he had previously thought he was -- because, as he has realised, "fakir is a big word" -- and instead called himself an auliya.

That's Urdu for a saint (or at the very least a saintly fellow).

My respect for PM Modi's nuanced understanding of history just went up -- he perhaps knows that when it comes to Delhi, auliyas had it better than most rulers.

Nizam-ud-din Auliya's Hunuz Dilli dur ast comment being a case in point.

 

Coming back to the interview, one could, of course, be forgiven to wonder: Has the Indian PM already run out of journalists to get interviewed by?

It is a valid question; we are still in the fourth year of the tenure. Although it is well known that despite occupying the highest public office in the world's largest democracy, PM Modi has not shown any overwhelming desire to answer questions from everyday journalists.

But let that not be misunderstood; already, there is way too much to do in this country. Moreover, there are many journalists who would give their right arm to interview the PM even today.

But perhaps the PM just doesn't want any more journalists. In the past, Mr Modi had agreed to being interviewed by some of the most well-respected journalists in India, each of whom has come to be seen as the true reflection of the best that this great and vast country has to offer in the name of journalism.

But, if anyone has watched those interviews carefully, they would agree that the PM did not seem to enjoy his time -- he appeared too embarrassed facing those questions.

What's worse, some people -- possibly one of those renegade anti-national journalists who can't but spread pessimism in the country -- have even suggested that the interviews were staged.

Utter rubbish, I say.

Still, there was bad press and most would agree, it was just not worth it anymore.

I mean, would you as the PM go through all the elaborate trouble of an interview, face all the tough questions from dogged journalists, who know what they are talking about, and yet end up with a result where more people are talking about the journalist than you.

It begs the question: Why go with an amateur when you can draft a professional? Hence, I suspect, an adman.

In other words, let's cut to the chase: Thanda matlab Coca Cola!

I would be honest, in the past, it was not easy to sit through the PM's interviews. It was just a shame to see a popularly elected PM being cornered on every issue.

Although one must give credit where it is due -- Mr Modi no longer stops abruptly in the middle of an interview, nor does he get up and leave, as we have seen him do when he was not the PM.

Now, you simply cannot unsettle him.

I am sure it must be the ashirwaad of the sawa sau crore Indians, give or take a few million illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and Myanmar -- although we are told the wheels are in motion to set right such historical injustices.

This time, of course, I thoroughly enjoyed the interview.

It was a feat that few world leaders have achieved in the past: It was an extempore interview even though an untrained eye would have been tricked into thinking that it was completely choreographed.

What changed, I ask? Not Mr Modi, but Mr Joshi. And yet, he is the one being pilloried.

What a travesty, I say.

Udit Misra
Source: