Comedian and scriptwriter Varun Grover recently appeared in a programme organised by Aaj Tak TV channel. Varun, who famously wrote the Netflix series Sacred Games, slammed the top Hindi TV channel for its questionable media ethics in a bid to defame a particular religious group in India.
“I have to say a lot about media,” he said. The anchor asked him if he had brought a script to attack the media. Varun replied, “I haven’t brought a script but just want to show you a data that I saw.”
He then launched his tirade against the Indian media including Aaj Tak in his own inimitable style, “Not only is the Indian media adding fuel to fire, but it has also made explosives available. It is also making matchboxes available. It then films the explosion caused by the combination of the matchbox and the explosives to collect the TRP before asking, ‘see what’s happening?’ …I am sitting here at an Aaj Tak event and Aaj Tak is a top TV channel. But the gap between a ‘top’ and the ‘best’ is still there. You become a top channel because of TRPs, but the qualities needed to become the best channel (are still lacking). Now, this (my criticism for Aaj Tak) has been broadcast live, but you can edit it later.”
Varun’s criticism for Aaj Tak earned him plenty of plaudits from the audience gathered to watch him live at the event organised by the Hindi TV channel. Justifying his criticism for the top Hindi channel, Varun said that people had a lot of expectations from Aaj Tak.
He said, “We’ve been watching this channel since childhood. Whether or not we watch it now, the whole country is still watching it. It’s a cliche line from Hollywood that with great power comes great responsibility.”
Varun then went on to quote data on the last 200 debates conducted by four TV channels namely Aaj Tak, Zee News, News18 and India TV. “In the last 200 debates, perhaps conducted over a period of three months, Pakistan was the topic 80 times, 14 on Ram Mandir, just three debates on the ravaging floods in Bihar and the PMC scam where thousands of people have their money stuck featured in just one debate. There have been zero debates on unemployment. Also zero debates on the topics of health, education, infrastructure and women’s safety. The environment that you are living is full of poison, but no debates on the environment.”
Varun said that even though India’s GDP was 10 times higher than that of Pakistan and the latter is insignificant to us, Indian TV channels are obsessed with the neighbouring country. “Your intention is different. You want to defame a particular section of the society in the guise of attacking Pakistan. You may be getting the TRP by doing this. The day you start showing the truth without caring about the TRP, the gap between the top and the best will end.”
The Aaj Tak anchor said that democracy was still alive in the country since Varun was able to criticise Aaj Tak by being at the channel’s platform.