Sunday Television

Sunday Television is probably the encapsulation of TV in India for the rest of the week: two main talk shows happen to be ‘We the People‘ and ‘Devil’s Advocate‘ on the two major channels. While loonies tend to believe the shows themselves happen to be political conspiracies, regular people merely think: Indian Television hasn’t matured enough to understand that there is a space for serious conversation on TV. That Barkha Dutt is ugly and idiotic is hardly her fault — that she is on TV at 8 PM is Pranoy Roy’s. One could argue the same with respect to Karan Thapar who, interestingly, is only half as annoying on CNBC; the aggressive edge to stupidity must be a function of the channels’ understanding of least common denominator.

Shekhar Gupta, who was probably hired to fill that void has failed. Given avataram’s proclamation that the Radhika who went to Welham did marry a capitalist after all, NDTV’s 9.30PM slot on Sunday evening has now been yielded to Rohini Nilekani for a new show ‘Uncommon Ground‘. The first show had a couple of very impressive guests: Mukesh Ambani and Rajendra K Pachauri.

If one were to compare Rohini’s show with existing shows, one has to rate it high. However, when the man India is so intrigued by, Mukesh Ambani, offers to discuss things, one expects the anchor person to have done her research. Reducing issues to simplistic 30s sound bite has a place — and Sardesai occupies that. Trying to usurp the man who can pose the most complicated question grappling our times and then say “10s” with an absolute straight face isn’t a winning proposition. There is also a guest list that compliments that end of the space: Rajeev Pratap Rudy, Jayanthi Natrajan and dial-the-same-quote D Raja.

Rohini Nilekani’s single biggest differentiator should have been her ability to hold an engaging conversation with two interesting and willing guests. The simplistic role of an interviewer does not need a big name like her’s whereas holding fort demands an equal. Being one and behaving like the other is inexcusable and makes the investment decision look silly. Maybe, Rohini will find her comfort zone soon and we will have a good show. Maybe all she needs is her own research team — one that does not work for Barkha Dutt.

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