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'Right now I'm playing a heroine' - Kamal

Post lunch FICCI MEBC took to addressing some key issues regarding responsibilities of journalism and about the content on TV that supposedly ‘works’ with the audience. The first panel discussion which was alarmingly titled ‘Credibility of our News Media – Is Journalism at stake?’ was moderated by Sanjay Pinto who was a renowned member of the press from the city of Chennai. The panel included prominent people from the press like S. Sreenivasan, Director of Pudhiya Thalaimurai, and Siddarth Varadharajan, Editor of The Hindu. Former Tamil Nadu DGP Natraj too was part of the panel to share his thoughts as a former civil servant.

Some of the topics revolved around how news channels unabashedly use the ‘Breaking News’ tag for the most trivial of stories. The other concern was that of misleading the public with false ‘Live’ tags while showing recorded interviews at the risk of completely quoting the guest out of context. Both journalists on the panel spoke on behalf of their channel or publication asserting the measures they take to ensure that the reader or viewer gets a wholesome and in depth coverage of the choicest news stories.

Parallely in the neighboring hall, there was a presentation and a live demo of the RED camera. The company’s spokesperson elucidated the camera’s superior technology and ease of use. He also played footage of films and commercials that have utilized the camera to its fullest. He expressed happiness that Indian films such as Bhaag Milkha Bhaag are making use of the technology to achieve great picture quality. There was also a live demo of the camera as a footage was shot inside the hall and its clarity and quality displayed on the projected screen in front of the audience.

The next panel discussion was about choosing the content for the TV audience. Gnani Sankaran, a respected writer, moderated the panel that featured Prem Menon, Business Head of Zee Tamil and Pradeep Milroy, Programming Head of Star Vijay. The topic presented to them was ‘Current Successful Formats for Regional TV – Reality Shows or Lifestyle?’. The moderator began by stating that there are no ‘regional’ languages and every language is a national language, only the audience is regional. The two channel representatives insisted that there can be no one formula that works every time. Both were unanimous in stating that when a particular programme works, there is no need for analyzing or studying it and just let it roll out till it fades out. The audience too got involved by posing questions to the panel, one in particular was on the issue of whether the reality shows are scripted and Pradeep Milroy responded by inviting the questioner to the sets of any of Vijay TV’s shows to monitor any wrong doing or stage management.

The stage was then cleared for one of the most anticipated discussions of the day. The topic was on the ‘Evolution of Women in Film’ moderated by the Chairman of FICCI, Kamal Hassan himself. The panel comprised of prominent actresses – Gauthami, Lissy Priyadarshan, Nadia & Suhasini Maniratnam. The discussion on the whole had a lot of introspective moments by the stars, drawing from their own experiences in the industry. Kamal interjected in places with his wit giving the discussion its light moments. While the problems and concerns were raised plenty, Suhasini Maniratnam offered the most logical solution to ensure there are more films with importance to female characters. She suggested that with the emergence of more women producers this issue can be sorted, and the entire panel seemed to agree to that thought.

The evening came to a close in a rather dramatic fashion as producer and chief of UTV pictures, Dhananjayan Govind, seated in the audience, began by saying that his production company too was interested in contributing to changing the trend and revealed a startling fact that he had approached top actresses in the Tamil industry to remake women centric hit films like Kahaani, and he said, to his surprise, they declined the offer fearing failure of the film. Instead they requested him to sign them opposite to a big hero in a commercial film.

The UTV chief also made a statement saying that it is not viable to make a small budget film in Tamil. At that moment Venky, Director of Konjam Koffee Konjam Kadhal, interjected and said that he had just made a woman centric film with a small budget and openly asked the UTV chief if they would be interested in it, to which Dhananjayan replied that he will surely watch it and consider it.

With that rather dramatic turn of event, the proceedings came to a close and one would assume it was indeed a fulfilling end.

Tags: Kamal Haasan, S Sreenivasan, Pudhiya Thalaimurai, Siddarth Varadharajan, DGP Natraj, Prem Menon, Zee Tamil, Gauthami, Lissy Priyadarshan, Nadia, Suhasini Maniratnam

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