An old flame ignites the media’s insensitivity

The release of former Congress minister H. Vishwanath‘s autobiography Halli hakkiya haadu (The song of the village bird) was thwarted by supporters of S.M. Krishna in Mysore yesterday who took objection to the author resurrecting in the public consciousness a half-century-old story of the former chief minister’s soft corner for yesteryear actress, B. Saroja Devi.

The protest had been prefaced by a news report in Mid-Day, whose reporter B.V. Shiva Shankar gained access to the proofs of the book. The operative portion of the offending episode, as recounted by the tabloid on Monday morning, reads thus:

Krishna and Vishwanath were travelling in a car in 2004, when assembly and parliamentary elections were scheduled simultaneously in Karnataka. A newspaper lying on the car seat said Saroja Devi could get a Congress ticket to contest from Mandya.

“What do people think?” Krishna reportedly asked Vishwanath.

Vishwanath hemmed and hawed, but Krishna cajoled him to speak out.

Vishwanath then said: “Sir, people know what happened between you and the star when you were young. They say Krishna won’t forget his old number, and will definitely give her a ticket.”

Krishna reportedly laughed and said, “We should not forget old numbers. It is a sin.”

Vishwanath replied, “Yes, sir. I won’t forget my old numbers either.”

That seemingly innocuous admission of a long-ago romance, fondly remembered long after the ardour had dimmed, was enough for the 24-hour Kannada news channel TV9 to go all guns blazing.

Krishna Leele” read the “super” all afternoon, as anchor Gaurish Akki and reporters Lakshman Hoogar and Arvind Shetty hoogared on the “Breaking News”, and speculated wildly on the motives behind Vishwanath revealing it now, the possible impact of it on Krishna’s return to Karnataka politics, etc.

The result of the Mid-Day report and the resulting TV9 coverage, provided enough fuel for Krishna’s supporters to go on the rampage, jostling chief guest U.R. Anantha Murthy, destroying the property of the venue, and generally creating a nuisance, and eventually succeeding in the book not being released as intended.

GAGAN K. who was at the venue for two hours, from 5.30 pm to 7.30 pm, jots down his impressions and observations. Krishna and Saroja Devi have been defamed not by Vishwanath, he says, but by Mid-Day and TV9. The protestors, he argues, should be directing their ire at the media outlets, rather than the author, a point echoed by Anantha Murthy who spoke of the increasing insensitivity of the media.

***

# I truly feel that S.M. Krishna has been truly defamed by TV9 and Mid-Day, not by H. Vishwanath. They have also misguided the people of the State. All of Karnataka now knows about this issue not because of Vishwanath’s book, but due to the wrong reporting of TV9.

# Without the book being released, how did the protestors come to know of its contents and how did they arrive at the venue to stage the protest? It was on the basis of the sensational, senseless, misinterpreted reporting of TV9 based on the Mid-Day report. The protestors need to protest before the offices of TV9 and Mid-Day.

# Actual defamation has been caused by Mid-Day and TV9 which have misinterpreted the contents of the book. What has been written has been taken out of context, twisted and sensationalised by use of words like “Krishna Leele“. The use of a morphed photograph of Krishna hugging Saroja Devi by Mid-Day is highly defamatory in nature though it has been mentioned below in a small font “image used for representation only”.

# TV9 is mainly responsible for the havoc. As a mass medium, TV9 needs to answer these questions first: 1) What is the source from which they got this news? 2) Did they get a copy of this book? 3) Did they go through this book? 4) What was the rationale behind sensationalising such a small issue for hours together?

# What Vishwanath has written in his book, among other issues, is based on a conversation with Krishna. If Krishna comes out and files a suit of defamation, then Vishwanath shall have to prove its veracity before the court. Otherwise, the author will be liable for defamation. In this case, Krishna has not filed a suit yet. Only Krishna or Saroja Devi have the right to claim defamation. But it is strange that Krishna’s supporters have taken matters to their own hands.

# Suchetana Swaroop, director of Sri Siddhartha Centre for Media Studies, Tumkur, who was waiting outside the venue to enter the hall, told me: “I don’t know why all this fuss. They have a right to protest. But let them protest outside the venue and allow us to release the book, read it, and discuss it. Have the protestors read a line from this book? On what basis are they protesting?”

# All the people of this country of this country have the freedom of speech and expression. but the freedom is not absolute. It comes with the rider of “reasonable restrictions”. Id est, a person may express his views, but he shall not express his views which are factually wrong. And the views shall not defame others. From yesterday’s incidents, it appears freedom speech and expression exists, but not for all.

***

YouTube video: courtesy Gagan K

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23 Responses to “An old flame ignites the media’s insensitivity”

  1. Bhaskar Chatterjee Says:

    When (say) MF Hussain draws naked Hindu God(ess), then its freedom of expression, and whoever protests are ‘facists’. But when a media uses allegedly “morphed’ picture of a mere mortal, then its ‘defamatory’, and Churumuri do NOT condemn this.

  2. Chilly Ram Says:

    Where are the police when we need them? The leisurely way they “chase” these troublemakers in the YouTube video speaks volumes. Are the cops scared or just out of shape?

    Does SM Krishna think that such quaint, old-fashioned ways of suppressing dissent are going to work in this age of the internet? Oh sorry! He had no idea – it was his passionate Gowda goon fans led all the way from Mandya by the incorrigible Shivakumar. Yella Kallru.

  3. Software Engineer Says:

    Autobiography of H Vishwanath! I wonder how many will read it!!

  4. Janasamanya Says:

    Degeneration has crept in all the fields in our country, latest being the media. Should not the media have little bit of decency? Thoo kanthrigala, neevenu saachagala.

  5. Vinay Says:

    this made my day ‘Vishwanath replied, “Yes, sir. I won’t forget my old numbers either.”’

  6. Aruna Urs Says:

    As for as I know (quite well) about Vishwanath, he ain’t a saint.

  7. Not A Witty Nick Says:

    Hakki naa!? :O

    Not even from the bird’s-eye view!

  8. Not A Witty Nick Says:

    H. Vishwanath must be sued for shaming the bird community!

  9. Yashica Says:

    S.M. Krishna prides himself on his poise and polish but his silence in the matter is telling. If Chiranjeevi could himself personally go over to the actor Rajashekhar’s house and apologise for the unruly behaviour of his fans, Mr Krishna owes an apology to the people of Karnataka for the obnoxious behaviour of his supporters.

  10. Mrignayani Says:

    This is a zarra hatke response….
    For all his modernist outlook I am shocked at what URA said in thsi context. He said “paapa hennu magalu, avara bagge haagellaa barIbaradittu” Now what does that mean?!

    Can anyone be more gender biased than this?! B Sarojadei received umpteen number of proposals during her hey days. S M Krisha’s was one such. BS’s mother was very keen about the alliance but SMK’s parents refused because she was a film star. All gowda clan know about it. BS herself mentioned it several times. she was not bothered about it at all.

    Now, URA should have condemned SMK supporters for vandalism and not pity or even say such things in such tones, implying ‘Hogli paapaa hennu magalu bittu bidi” as if she had either committed an immoral act or as if she would be bothered about the alliance falling through. when the whole world is trying to redefine chastity etc why impose this old fashioned sympathy of “paapaa hennu magalu”?

    If URA had followed it up with a “paapa SMK, happiyly married, bidri, haledellaa yaake?” or if he had said shut up you protesters both BS and SMK are mature enough to handle it he would have earned some respect. BUt no, He chose to condemn vishwanath as if he had written soimething immoral. why this double standard URAcharyare?

  11. Smita Says:

    Did he really say that??! That is such a condescending and thoughtless remark…

  12. Doddi Buddi Says:

    The Animal-Eyed-One,

    …”Can anyone be more gender biased than this?! B Sarojadei received umpteen number of proposals during her hey days. S M Krisha’s was one such. BS’s mother was very keen about the alliance but SMK’s parents refused because she was a film star. All gowda clan know about it. BS herself mentioned it several times. she was not bothered about it at all…”

    Correct and also SMK and BS were from different social spheres. In fact I have heard folk from Somnalli say, “Krishna awan bidu; awandhu Royal family.” and stuff like that. If BS were from a big Zamindar family there would have been no problems with the alliance.

  13. Mayura Says:

    >>If BS were from a big Zamindar family there would have been no problems with the alliance.
    >>

    Exactly, B Saroja devi hails from a very poor family in gavipuram guttahalli. Before she entered filmdom she was known as ‘Sagani Saroja’, for she used to collect cow dung from the streets and make cow dung cake (berani) and sell it for a living. Her uncle used to have a petty shop on the gutthalli main road. SMK/parents must have refused the alliance probably for this reason.

  14. Mayura Says:

    >>This is a zarra hatke response….
    For all his modernist outlook I am shocked at what URA said in thsi context. He said “paapa hennu magalu, avara bagge haagellaa barIbaradittu” Now what does that mean?! >>

    Mriganayani,

    You seem to hold this dork URA in very high esteem. If you know what he uttered when Prathibha Nandakumar had burn injuries, you will cringe. Google for Ravi Belageres article which throws some light on this ill mannered moron. I would have keyed it in here, but that would reduce the decorum of this forum.

  15. Mrignayani Says:

    don’t believe all that Ravi Belagere writes. Half the time he makes up stories.

  16. Anonymous Guy Says:

    But the make up stories are what we would like to believe!

  17. Mayura Says:

    >>don’t believe all that Ravi Belagere writes. Half the time he makes up stories.>>

    Mriganayani,

    I agree with you. I would not have believed that until I read what URA had uttered during a discourse on SLB’s aavarana.

  18. Doddi Buddi Says:

    Mayura,

    Thank you for this ‘Sagani’ nugget. My esteem of BS grows ever more.

  19. somreen Says:

    read dadagiriya dinaglu-3 by agni sreedhar to know belegere ‘banna’

  20. Mayura Says:

    DB

    When you say ‘BS’ do you mean B Sarojadevi or Bull@#$% :)

  21. Doddi Buddi Says:

    Mayura,

    I meant B Sarojadevi. Sorry for the confusion!

  22. gagan Says:

    surely krishna should have discussed with saroja devi and both should have come out with a joint statement saying that there were marriage proposals but it did not happen. And nothing wrong in what vishwanath had written. He should have also met vishwanath for courtesy.

    And if we look the other way… vishwanath could have asked krishna and saroja devi before writing all this. because some people may like it. And some may not like it. As some person here said, most of the people in politics and mandya know about all the old stories. Nothing new in it.

    The way it was blown out of proportion by some of the media was bad.

  23. Sankar Says:

    The good old Iyengar bakery at Jayanagar 4th block is again closed. It was closed in mid April 2013 and thought it was closed temporarily.

    As I communicated the neighbour shop, the bakery is permanently closed. I never compromise quality of this shop as they serve the fresh and tasty Kara bun, Special bun, Dispasand, Veg Puff and Rusk items.

    The management should think about re-open this shop and server their customer again.

    I am one of a customer of this bakery for last 10 years. May be there are customers older than this period.

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