So, MY mobile rang. The caller ID read ‘Unknown’. My heart skipped a beat. Usually ‘Unknown’ on a mobile screen means ‘politician’ or ‘extortionist’, which, come to think of it are synonymous in modern Mumbai. But, this phone call turned out to be neither.
“Hello this is Arnab Goswami,” the voice boomed. “Can I have some time, now?”
“Uh, hi sir. I know that you are... were... are... Times Now.”
“No, no. I want some time now, to talk to you… for some career guidance.” The next minute of chatter flowed from my mouth like a waterfall in the Himalayas.
“Goswamiji, I am honoured that you should seek me out for vocational advice — but first, the nation wants to know, have you left the channel or not?”
“Difficult to say…”, he started, but I interrupted.
“I ask, crucially, because there is widespread panic among your viewers, among all us Indians. What will people do between 9 pm and 10 pm if you vacate that seat? Husbands and wives will now have to have regular domestic conversations, children will have to do homework. You are the reason for many inter-personal disturbances. Some people love you, most hate you, but no one can be indifferent or ignore you sir.”
Arnab was quiet in his response.
“Okay, first I have to ask you a question, are you a fan of mine? I want honesty.” “Arnab-da, many people have criticised you, but you are definitely the man people love to hate — in any social situation, socialite evening or gathering, five minutes after the pleasantries are over, the conversation willy nilly turns to you. But, there’s no question. You are Indian television’s biggest star, after Kapil Sharma, though you don’t destroy mangroves, only eardrums. You are the Donald Trump of India, without the groping and the weird hairdo bit.”
“Sir, people say I shout a lot...do you agree?” This was like asking the Pope if he is Catholic.
“Uh, Goswami saab, uhm...well... let me put it like this. During your Newshour, there is so much noise, that dogs and cats duck for cover more than they do during Diwali. Every night there is a verbal war in our living rooms. Yes, I’d say with 18 odd people on your panel, all talking simultaneously, there is a certain amount of din.”
Arnab was quiet. At a loss for words, he suddenly asked, speaking in the third person,
“Rahul-da...Arnab wants to know, if he changed from being a TV anchor, what vocation should he choose, hypothetically speaking?”
This was an easy question, a no brainer.
“First option is Army Chief of Pakistan — the amount of Pak generals he has interrogated in the last year, the man can lead our neighbours into battle. Plus, nail every terrorist outfit to boot. The second option is ‘Crowd Controller of Uttar Pradesh elections’. With his booming foghorn vocal chords, no political party in UP, whether Samajwadi or BJP, needs megaphones or microphones. Just place Arnab on the podium, and everyone will listen. Finally, he can take over the vehicle division from Cyrus Mistry. And rename it ‘Tata Motor Mouth’!”
Rahul da Cunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at email@example.com
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