EThe vents have topped this dark documentary, which, while interesting and relevant, doesn’t cover important recent developments. It’s about the sinister pro-Modi nationalist hysteria in India that has infected the country’s quasi-Fox TV channels, and a moderate journalist who politely opposed it: NDTV news anchor Ravish Kumar . This was especially true in the unbearably tense period before the 2019 elections in which Modi was victorious, when the The Indian government launched an airstrike on Balakot in Pakistan in retaliation for a terrorist attack on an Indian police convoy at Pulwama in Kashmir.
India’s strident television pundits have denounced traitors everywhere, and this documentary by Vinay Shukla details Kumar’s quiet courage in simply continuing his reporting on widespread poverty that Modi ignored (preferring to stoke diversionary fascist fervor), guarding his blood -cold amid a barrage of abuse and death threats. The pressure on NDTV and its reporters is mounting, with someone throwing a grim going away party with cake almost every week.
The film ends on a hopeful note in that it dares to suggest that Kumar’s position and values in mainstream media will somehow survive. But after it was finished and created last fall, Kumar quit the channel in protest when it was taken over by a group led by pro-Modi billionaire Gautam Adani, and now broadcasts around the country through its own YouTube channel, virtually underground. Shukla’s film shows us what led to this state of affairs but, through no fault of his own, he cannot address this complicated new situation.
We are all rightly worried about the conspiracy madness propagated by Youtube truth tellers who speak out against the mainstream media, so what does it mean when Kumar, a universally respected journalist whose career is seen as a gigantic reproach to the rotten media establishment, has to operate on YouTube? Does this mean that our attitudes towards real news and fake news will have to be rewritten? Maybe. Either way, it’s a valuable perspective on how easily the news media become sycophantic mouthpieces for the right.