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The Idiotic Sensationalism

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Akshat Rathi:

My congratulations to Aamir Khan, Rajkumar Hirani and Vidhu Vinod Chopra on making a great movie. I believe that the message needs to be delivered to the parents more than to the youth. I also extend my sympathies to Chetan Bhagat and believe that the author should have been duly credited. But that is not my final take on the controversy.

I must confess that when the world started tweeting about the controversy, I thought it’s one of those ‘get-publicity-while-you-can’ stunt. Even though I thought it would be a waste of time to spend time keeping up with tweets, I hung around just to be amused by the fakingnews tweets. To my surprise I found the whole exercise quite worth the time investment as it was a learning experience. The debate on who should be given the credit, the man behind the original idea or the man who put the efforts to make it a much better idea, should not last very long. Both deserve enough credit.

From a third person perspective, I am in complete agreement with Vir Sanghvi that Vidhu Vinod Chopra lacked grace in handling the situation. But looking at the nitty-gritty of the story and seeing Chetan Bhagat flip completely on the issue made me think that maybe there is more to the issue than just this. After reading quite a bit about it and seeing the news channels do what they do best, make such a sensation out of a controversial issue, I believe that Chetan Bhagat’s perfectly reasonable solution should be honoured.

I don’t think that this marks the end of this sensation. While everyone is in awe of the movie, IBN Live Journalist Sagarika Ghose has a written a negative take on the movie. She thinks that movie ‘legitimises scorn and hatred of education, sanctions wilful dumbing down’ and will make us a ‘nation of idiots’. When does Aamir Khan say that leave schools and stop studying? All he says is that dare to follow your passion, get the right education and skills to fulfill your dream. And when has it been shown in the movie that the students have been able to get away after committing serious offenses? They have had to make up for it every time by doing something worthy of keeping them in the institute.

The movie is based on Five Point Someone which was written by Chetan Bhagat with some reference to his own experiences of the IITs in the 1990s. After 20 years, if the 3 Idiots has struck chord with the sentiments of the current students, then not much has changed in the education system since then, has it? We must realise that the same evils still exist in the education system and it is time we do something concrete about them and that is what the message of the movie is. It is not a movie that ‘trivializes our higher education system’ instead it speaks of the importance of higher education in developing a person.

The movie is not going to stop students from appearing for the IIT-JEE or CAT and is in no way going to ‘allow standards in our centers of excellence to be lowered’. Instead, what it might do to is help students take up the scholarship only if they have the true passion for it. Yes, we may need more doctors and engineers in the coming decade to keep up the pace of our development, but we certainly don’t want angry doctors and frustrated engineers doing jobs they do not enjoy doing.

Ms Ghose seems to forget that she (and I) is part of the 1% of students who represent the whole country. They are the students who have got education from these centers of excellence. 99% students who graduate don’t get quality education and do not have the employability skills that a graduate student must have. There is far too much to do about the system and the movie tries to highlight that. I don’t think that it is going to affect the mindset of rational people and make them ‘engage in an escapist fantasy and convince ourselves that education does not matter’. If one movie can cause such a tide then Munnabhai’s show of Gandhigiri should have stopped all crime in India.

It is a movie after all. It is meant to give a message masked in light-hearted entertainment. If I know anything about entertainment, I know that people don’t get entertained by normal things. They need something extra-ordinary and for that exaggeration needs to be used skillfully. I think 3 Idiots has a done a fantastic job at that and has managed to put across an important message to the Indian society.

So what do you think? Drop in a comment below or mail us at info@youthkiawaaz.com, you can also tweet us at @YouthKiAwaaz.

image: http://www.glamsham.com/movies/features/

The writer is the London correspondent at Youth Ki Awaaz. He is also the Oxford University Ambassador for the Voice of Young Science, a Sense about Science initiative.

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  1. ArUn ShArMa

    Hi Akshat,
    I think your anguish on the criticism of the movie is well justified. I watched the movie just last night and I found it extremely hilarious but still passing on the message very carefully. I loved the concept, the storyline and the humor. There's no point in criticizing the movie just for the sake of doing it.
    On the controversy front, seriously I don't think I even saw Chetan Bhagat's name on the screen ever from the beginning till the end. Though Vidhu Chopra purchased the rights of the book, it's a courtesy that he should've extended to the author. I empathize with Chetan Bhagat and support him in this issue.

  2. inglorious basterd

    Holy cow! Do the editors at youth ki awaaz even know what they are making of news values here!
    How can a london based correspondent write on an issue which largely affects the gossip columns of cosmopolitan India!
    Have they forgotten what a correspondent is meant to do in a media organization/group?
    Now, as for the writer of this post, I would suggest that you please give us some news of issues in UK or your city/neighbourhood that directly or indirectly affects Indians or NRIs.
    Its a request.
    I hope the editors would take note of this!
    Please do not denounce news values. Youth ki Awaaz should not shun its credibility for the sake of publicity/commercialization.
    Thank you.

  3. Azneo

    Why am I writing this? Because my portfolio covers not just London based news but also current affairs in general.

    To answer your questions

    "How can a london based correspondent write on an issue which largely affects the gossip columns of cosmopolitan India"? As an Indian I keep up with news in India and about India. I also believe that I have the right to express my opinion irrespective of where I live in the world.

    "Have they forgotten what a correspondent is meant to do in a media organization/group?" No I have not. I am new to the organisation and will get into my complete set of duties in the coming weeks. I have your request in my mind and will try to my best to deliver results. I hope you will keep a tab on my progress.

    "Youth ki Awaaz should not shun its credibility for the sake of publicity/commercialization". If you could elaborate a bit on this, I may be able to respond to it in a better manner. Thank you.

  4. Anonymous

    "How can a london based correspondent write on an issue which largely affects the gossip columns of cosmopolitan India"? As an Indian I keep up with news in India and about India. I also believe that I have the right to express my opinion irrespective of where I live in the world.
    Good and we respect your right to express yourself on indian issues by being an indian. But then dont make a mockery of the word 'correspondent' by using it in a story which doesnt have anything to do with the correspondent. A correspondent provides news about his location wherever he is, affecting a particular community.
    This chetan bhagat vs aamir khan issue is not affecting the indian community in any part of the world. Mr. "london correspondent'..your take on this matter is obnoxious to an extent. It would be way better if you bring in light those incidents which are affecting the indian community in UK.
    Also i would like to request the editor to educate himself on what is a correspondent?
    Also BE THE CHANGE tagline doesnt go by the website if you indulge yourselves in sensational news!
    Thank you, i look forward to your reply!

  5. Youth Ki Awaaz

    Hi there,

    Thanks for those kind comments at Youth Ki Awaaz. First of all, Youth Ki Awaaz is a platform for the youth and we publish whatever the youth wants to read and write about. We do not curtail any persons right to speech just because he wants to go off the beat and write on a topic that he wants to.

    Secondly, thanks for teaching us the meaning of a correspondent. But I would like to let you know that unlike other media companies, we give our correspondents freedom to NOT ONLY write about the incidents in their neighbourhood, country, state, but explore issues that might not be related to their nation, state or whatever.

    And yes, it is completely upto the decision and purview of the editorial board to decide the responsibilities and functions of a correspondent. We respect your concern but we will still allow our 'correspondents/writers' total freedom to express themselves about their area of concern.

    As far as our tagline is concerned, I would like to let it be known that Youth Ki Awaaz believes in youth empowerment and we allow all our writers to express themselves whether they write for or against us. It is a platform for issues concerning YOUTH, period. Youth Ki Awaaz allows ANYONE to express themselves FREELY and let their voices be heard just like we are allowing your comments on this platform. This is the change we talk about.

    Criticism for the sake of criticism is something that can be done by ANYONE but someone caring about YOUTH will always indulge in constructive response.

    Regards,
    Anshul Tewari
    Founder and Editor in Chief
    Youth Ki Awaaz: Mouthpiece for the Youth

  6. parul sabherwal

    I second Anshul, it is entirely under the purview of editors to give responsibilities to our correspondents… Thanks for your concern.

  7. Monadhika

    I would like to comment on the post rather than the 'comments'.

    I started reading the post thinking it was regarding the "idiotic sensationalism" but midway the article lost track after Ms. Ghose's comment and I felt it was rather incomplete. (No pun intended- I genuinely feel that way).

    Also, I would like to give my viewpoint on this whole credit issue. I agree with you when you say that both Chetan Bhagat and Rajkumar Hirani deserve credit.
    Even though the movie crew claims that they gave Mr. Bhagat advance payment as per mentioned in the contract, I fail to understand what big a deal it would have been had they duly credited Mr. Bhagat in the beginning of the movie. Would it have taken away too much from the amazing movie '3 idiots' is ?
    This was the same team that withdrew the trailer of Prakash Jha's Raajneeti from the films launch, because they 'would rather do away with the trailer than have people distracted from 3 Idiots'! I am really shocked at their baseless logic.
    Once they have made a great movie with their heart and soul in it, what are they afraid of?

  8. inglorious basterd

    Hey Anshul,
    Firstly, I thank you for your elucidation of the Youth Ki Awaaz 'editorial' policy,
    Secondly, My areas of dissent are –
    * The editorial board should introduce their writers as 'feature writers' and not as Bahamas/Bohemia/Blasphemia 'correspondents' (This word to be used only when they report or express themselves on issues or incidents occurring in their areas).
    *I believe that the editorial board comprises well-educated journalism students, so it's but obvious that they should revere news values and the way a news organisation operates in a hierarchical fashion. It is normal to expect this from them, isn't it Anshul?
    *As far as this article goes, I think Chetan Bhagat is nothing but a profit (and not publicity) hungry man. Mr. Hirani had articulated in the contract signed by Mr. Bhagat that his name would appear in the credits and not at the beginning of the movie.
    Also, why did Chetan agree to the script READ OUT to him by Mr. Hirani much before the shooting began.
    The movie is a well done reel articulating the lacunae in our education system.
    Finally, why wait a whole week after the movie release before creating a furore in the media about injustice.
    This is what happens when someone sitting in London expresses himself on some not-so-UK issue.
    As an ardent supporter of media ethics, well researched and serious journalism, I would REQUEST my dear friends on the editorial board to take note of all this.
    It's not criticism for the sake of criticism but a constructive request for the development of the policy and functioning of the Youth Ki Awaaz modus operandi.
    All I ask for are well-researched articles Anshul. You cannot let your writers to indulge in blasphemous romanticism, can you?
    Thank you all for accepting my bouquets with brickbats.
    Seeking a reply.

  9. Youth Ki Awaaz

    Hi IB,

    Thanks for a much subtle reply this time. I am surprised to know that you are aware of us being journalism students.

    Also, I agree with your views on the Chetan Bhagat part. And since you are really concerned about the working of our organization I would recommend you to please contact us at info@youthkiawaaz.com and let this be a comment space for views regarding the article. Thanks and we will consider your concern about the functions of our correspondents, etc.

  10. inglorious basterd

    I doubt if you take the brickbats sportingly. Yes, I know the brains behind youth ki awaaz since the days it was in it's stone age.
    Well Anshul, I would continue criticizing and appreciating (when necessary and deserved)the articles on the comment space only. Forgot the purpose of feedback and an ombudsman, have you?
    Amuses me. All I want is well researched stories as there are flaws galore on every story I rest my eyes upon. You can see my comments on other posts as well.
    Thank you.

  11. Youth Ki Awaaz

    Youth Ki Awaaz presents perspectives from the youth and not research papers. This is not a news website but a platform for young writers to express themselves. However, we welcome all feedback and suggestions and thank you for taking out the time to voice yourself on Youth Ki Awaaz.

  12. Azneo

    @ Monadhika: Thank you for your comment. I would greatly appreciate if you would give a few more details on why you found it rather incomplete? I wanted to concentrate on Mrs. Ghose's article because much had been written abt the controversy. When I started writing the piece Vir Sanghvi was still to publish his Counterpoint. By the time I completed it, the piece was published and quite a lot of my points would only have been repetition, hence the change in focus.

    On your comment abt the controversy, I agree with your points. What difference would it have made to them to put his name in the beginning of the movie?

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