Arnab’s leaving. Just saying those words are devastating. As I heard the news, I stared at my TV, uncomfortable with the ensuing silence, an ominous quiet of the future to come, where I can hear birds and my own thoughts. My TV, if it could speak, wanted to say, “thank you, I can go back to being a normal TV now and not worry about an anchor trying to jump out of me” - but I was in no mood to mollify inanimate Samsung objects. Nor was I up for appreciating smart-ass comedy wit on Twitter.
“You asked for a noise-less Diwali and here it is.”
“The Nation is relieved.”
Do these cretins not realise that the messiah is not bothered by this juvenile teenage sarcasm- you think 138 characters can bring down a man who can become 138 characters?
Is this the time for humour, when we’ve just lost the only voice on television that was also all the other voices? In the age of comedy, will we not respect the most sacred Indian value of making sure everyone talks at once only to be overridden by the Messiah’s booming, “Just one minute. One minute…”
What, what kind of a world does he leave behind –a world of silence, of listening, of rational discussion, of both sides being right AND wrong – who wants that world? What is this - Canada?
As the great filmmaker Werner Herzog said in his memoir, “Whatever you do in life, always be aware of the bear behind you”. Arnab was the nation’s bear. Now the nation is bear-less.
Johnny Cash, the singer once wrote,
There's a man going around taking names And he decides who to free and who to blame. Everybody won't be treated all the same When the man comes around
That man isn’t coming around anymore. Your idiot friends are, some food app delivery boy is - but not Arnab’s justice. So nation, you are announced NOT guilty. What a shame. And who’ll decide your crimes? A court. What is that? Isn’t that just a movie?
Look what justice is now left with – this court place - people wearing black robes like they’re at morning assembly at a convent school guided by clauses written by British men in wigs influenced only by “evidence” (whatever that is).
Real justice - THE man saying to the nation, “I am saying to the nation you did it”- just died.
And with that – the hopes of his fans – that someday he’d shoot the people he found guilty live on air. The hope that along-with the piece of paper he holds up with nothing written on it, there’d be a gun in the other hand – alas, will never be.
And how can he just walk away from the nation like this? Those that rely on him for everything.
The stoned drunk single 24-year-old man at 3 am for whom Newshour is a trippy dream and his girlfriend. The families who have years of discontent and dysfunction and nothing to say to each other, who get by without confronting their issues by saying, “Did you see what he did last night?” The retired Pakistani generals whose entire post-pension income is based on keeping that moustache curled, looking like a Pakistani general, and ready to be shouted at.
The quiet die-hard right-wing guy in every family whose true colors can only be spotted, (like the near extinct Amazon lizard), when he steps out as himself - by his vehement agreement with Newshour, and you wonder, ‘Wow. This is different guy”. The comedians and satirists, a large chunk of whose income is based on Arnab impressions. Do we really want to live in a world where their children ask, “Dad who are you imitating? Who is that?” The Congress spokesperson who has forgotten how to finish his sentences.
Arnab has abandoned them, just like he would when something logical was beginning to be said on the show and he’d shout, “Rubbish. Ad break.”
What will happen to these people? What other test is there for Gen X and Y now to truly understand that their parents are mad, except the Newshour?
Still, all is not lost.
Like he rises from his bear repose by threatening “never ever ever never” to someone accusing him of taking a bribe, he will rise again. By sitting, that is. On an anchor’s desk. The kraken will be unleashed again.
He mentioned something about starting a news empire that can take on the CNN/ BBC hegemony. Amen. Why take on - overtake is my hope. Why aim just for this planet’s news media domination? Maybe one day it becomes so big that it is broadcast to other planets so any intelligent life out there will be convinced not to contact us.
We, his devotees, are ready for Arnab TV, modeled along the lines of Trump TV perhaps (but even bigger because Trump is small fry). As a sleight to NDTV 24/7, perhaps called Arnab 24/7. Yes Arnab from 8 am - nervous breakdown with morning coffee.
Like good tailoring, bespoke shouting at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Anytime you want a break from awkward silence- it will be on.
Some things we devotees hope to see on Arnab TV.
1. Anti-nationals vs. Wolves in a stadium – a fight to the finish.
2. Journalists not just embedded with soldiers but actually fighting alongside. In fatigues.
3. Virtual reality Arnab- so if he is shouting at you and you’re not in the studio, he can reach out and pull you into the studio and bash you up. (Yes I know, no one has written “bash you up” since 1990).
4. Naming and shaming people – anyone- not specific to any national issue - for a fee. And then executing them based on public votes.
Sadly, they say the world is not ready for all this. That’s why he’s taking a break. In journalism they say something happens in the world, journalists are ready. In his case, he’s ready – now he has to make the world ready.
Till then, I will watch, in depressed annoyance, regional channels like the BBC; the old age home of journalism with informed people “listening to each other” (useless).
And as Shakespeare said in As You Like It, I will say to HIM.“Hereafter, in a better world than this, I shall desire more love and knowledge of you”.
Anuvab Pal is a part time stand up comedian, full time Newshour devotee.
Feature Image Source: Twitter