March 30, 2007

On the State of Newspapers, Yet Again...

I'm one of those people who love reading columns. I mean, the news interests me as well, but the columns fascinate me. Depending on their quality, they can convince you of either the superiority of the human race, or of the fact that we deserve to be wiped out from the face of the earth.

Subscribing to Hindustan Times and the Times of India, I get a pretty wide range of stuff.

TOI: I, the best newspaper in this country (to read my reports on myself, turn to page 3, 7, 9, 12, and 15), have Shashi Tharoor, Jug Suraiya, Bachi Karkaria!
HT: Save the twaddle. I have Barkha Dutt, Rajdeep Sardesai, Karan Thapar, Vir Sanghvi. Hah!
TOI: Damn. You seem to have the upper hand right now. I must get Kim Sharma.
HT: I'm working to get Narayana Murthy too.
TOI: Crap! We just have to get Bappi Lahiri now!

No prizes for guessing which way I lean. When it comes to the main paper, I'm a Hindustan Times fan all the way. (Though, of course, Tharoor was a great acquisition for the Times.) But with the supplements, I'd say, it's anybody's game.

I mean, on one hand we have Bombay Times, Westside Plus, Mumbai Mirror, What's Hot, Buzz, Rouge and Life! (Have I missed out any?) On the other hand we have Cafe, Lives West, Splurge and Brunch.

On one hand is the fact that Bombay Times consistently prints stuff about Hrithik Roshan's 1-year-old son's birthday on front page. On the other we have Splurge, where almost all items that are showcased also read "Price on request."

On one hand we have Bombay Times that seems to have an obsessive interest in Anju Taraporevala, Pravina Mecklai and Monica Vaziralli. On the other is HT Cafe with every social "do" being rated as "Mwah" "Mmmm" and "Hmmm... uhhh" (How's that for journalistic and editorial "pen is mightier than sword"?) On the positive side, HT Cafe has a lot of cultural news. And Bombay Times has... comic strips.

Bombay Times: Mere paas Pritish Nandy hai, Shobha De hai, "PYT" aur "TLC" jaisa lingo hai! Tumhare paas kya hai, aye?
HT Cafe (solemnly): Mere paas Honey hai! Hah!!

This is one front on which HT Cafe does overtake BT. HT Cafe proudly presents a column called "Under Honey's Hat" every single day, despite the regular death letters and suicide notes that pour into their offices everyday on her account. Now, I am no writer, but today I solemnly assert that I can write a better column than "Honey". (I'm putting her name in quotes because I shudder to think that someone reading this might actually think I call her honey.)

Today's "Under Honey's Hat" column reads as follows:
Note: I'm including opening lines only. All formatting (capitals, bold letters, italics) are reproduced exactly.

Box 1: Disturbing news I got on my sms right now..

Box 2: So, how are my shammi kababs sizzling this morning? It's getting soooo hot in the city.. the wrong kind of hot that is.. that I've just landed in London with my makeup men in tow.. not that I need that.. but still..

Box 3: Gawd, they won't leave me alone in Vilayat even.. will they? MADHU my MOTTI maid called hysterically to say that she has espied MAANYATA curling like a python all around SANJAY DUTT!

Box 4: Ooooooh.. just put on the television channel here.. and got the fright of my life. Rakhi Sawant was on Boo Boo Chhee, raving about her dhansoo role in something called Buddha Mil Gaya...

Box 5: O me, O my. Madhu the Motti has been asking for a salary hike. Don't know what's come over her.. but ever since she heard in the market that Sneha Ullal, is asking for Rs. 25 lakh per film, Mottu thinks she's more attractive and happening.

Apparently, HT Cafe didn't complete the column name. It should have been, "Under Honey's Hat... Lies An Empty Head."

No, frankly, I understand this is the age of tabloidism and voyeurism. But can we at least have journalists who write correct English? And who are reporting something more interesting than the fact that Shamita Shetty brushed three times today? Why must we have columns by people who address their readers as "dahlings"?

And in a move that takes "dotting your i's" to a whole new level, the Edit page of the last Sunday Times of India had all "I"s written as "i"s. Having been editor of the school mag, this naturally irritated my senses. I feel I'm back at 15, poring over submissions from kids whose handwriting, spelling and grammar formed a lethal combination that almost always made me want to tear my hair out. I do remember reading some twaddle by way of an explanation a few weeks back, but whatever it was (and I can't recall it), I don't think anything justifies writing "i" all the time in a newspaper column. Please, STOI. Please. Don't make columns such a damned torture to read.


P.S. To everyone out there who wants to watch a movie - forget about Namastey London or Hat Trick, please, and go watch The Namesake. Great book, good movie. There are, of course, changes and deviations, but the essence is beautifully preserved. Also a case of perfect casting and great performances.

P.P.S. Watching a movie alone is great fun! Finally got to try it out. :)


Asterix said...

I was surprised at finding out that the only newspaper worth reading in Bombay arrives one day late, because of some mutual understanding with the popular newspapers. But then again, Hindu is perhaps too dry, even for my taste.

Even Indian Express is only a shadow of what it used to be.

Now I gotta check out this Under Honey's Hat thingie. Seems to be fun :)

azmeen said...


Anonymous said...

niceeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee :)


aditi said...

HAHA...under honeys hat...lies an empty head!!! too funny ..ive stopped reading that page... its intolerable her language... you should write that page instaed!

Bleue said...

Totally love columns too! Arey I toh read the paper ulta (startin 4m last page movin 2wards headlines)

Honey?? With a HAT?? & words coming outta her head like THAT (those, but 'those' duznt rhyme :P)
*shudders* Good Lord, & I thought BT was bad..

I agree, TOI gradually goin down the dumps..but I must admit, I love STOI haan! Hours of reading (except of some crappy issues of Times Life & al..kabhi kabhi)

..& 4 Pete's sake, I get DNA also! *period*

Cheers \m/, (+.+) ,\m/

PS: Will watch Namesake, soon, very soon..

PPS: Will read tht Barkha Dutt arti soon, saved to Favourites..

PPPS: I like these post scripts et al! :D

Pratz said...

Lolz...."Under Honey's Hat" - thats what they call!!
hehe ... Nice one Mudra as always...!!
By the way, The Namesake's terrific - and I agree its fun to watch a movie alone....tried it out myself ... :)

Vandana said...

Very funny post as usual :-)
After reading your blog, I don't think I'm missing much with regards to what Indian newspapers have to offer.. "Under Honey's Hat"??? I have no words of consolation for people reading such crap..
Btw, read the article by B. Dutt.. thanks to you.. :-) interesting take on the issue.

Keetarp Aidonak said...

HT has comics on saturdays... beat that

Vidooshak said...

if you like columns, you MUST subscribe to the Business Standard. a person like me who has no interest in finance, other than pocketmoney that wife gives me, treats night as the time you need to spend before another BS issue arrives. what i love most is the topics and themes they pick for discussion-- especially "Lunch with BS" on Tuesdays and the "Weekend" section on Saturday.

LOL @ TOI getting Kim Sharma on board

Abhisek Pandey said...

Nothing beats Swaminathan Aiyer's Swaminomics on Sunday ToI. I used to read Vir Sanghvi regularly, but he sounds quite monotonic nowadays.

Btw, nice blog, i mean, really interesting articles and blehs.


Abhisek Pandey said...

Nothing beats Swaminathan Aiyer's Swaminomics on Sunday ToI. I used to read Vir Sanghvi regularly, but he sounds quite monotonic nowadays.

Btw, nice blog, i mean, really interesting articles and blehs.