Ravish Kumar has a question: ‘Baagon Mein Bahaar Hai?’
“Baagon Mein Bahaar Hai?,” is not just a line of the popular song from the film Aradhana, written by Anand Bakshi, but a question put forward by popular TV anchor and journalist Ravish Kumar to Authority, a mime figure he used to protest the ban on his channel NDTVIndia for 24 hours.
In the show which was telecast on the night of November 4, Ravish Kumar, the senior executive editor of NDTV, had two mimes, Authority and Troll. Authority and Troll answered Ravish’s questions without speaking but by miming and making noises.
The Information and Broadcasting Ministry imposed the one-day ban on NDTV India for its coverage of the Pathankot attacks. The ban has triggered wide criticism and online protests against the Central government but has been welcomed by right-wing trolls too.
When the Authority troll got angry and disturbed at Ravish’s questions regarding environment pollution and farmer suicides, the anchor tried to placate the mime by asking “Baagon mein bahaar hai?” (Has spring arrived in the gardens?).
The November 4 show began with a report on the growing air pollution in Delhi with Ravish narrating the worsening state of affairs. He then referred to the ban by showing footage of Kiren Rijiju saying, “We should stop this habit of raising doubts and questioning the authority and police.”
“When did authority and police rise above questioning? Authority means accountability. Without it, power becomes something else altogether. When we cannot ask questions when we cannot speak freely, what else can we do?” asked Kumar.
With the mime artists portraying people who get angry at every question and do not respond in words, Ravish asks them whether they have lost their own voices after blocking the voices of others. He mocks Authority by asking how to set up a new “startup” of “voiceless democracy”.
Ravish asks the Authority why the sidekick, alias chamcha, Troll babu is talking for him. Authority remains silent most of the time and Troll babu defends him.
At the end, Ravish asks what should others do to avoid getting a notice from the Authority. The Authority suddenly changes expression and begins to bark like a dog. The Troll smacks him from the back of his head to “control” the bark. Ravish acknowledged mime artists Rajesh Nirmal for playing Authority and Ishu Kumar for playing Troll.
The show is a clear riposte to the Narendra Modi government that they cannot stop people and media from asking questions. He also ridiculed the government, rightwing trolls and pro-establishment journalists very well.
Markandey Katju, former Supreme Court judge, said the ban on NDTV was illegal. “Live coverage means showing scenes of security forces searching or pursuing terrorists, or fighting with them. Mere reporting about anti-terrorist operations is not live coverage. NDTV had only reported about anti-terrorist operations but had not shown any scenes of security forces chasing or fighting with terrorists. So there was no live coverage. The ban was therefore clearly illegal,” wrote Katju on Facebook.
NDTV and Ravish Kumar have won a lot of support on social media. The hashtag “#बागों_में_बहार_है” has been trending on twitter since yesterday.