Too much aggression, very little interview

Three years ago as India was being subjected to a Modi wave, with an aide of the electronic media (apart from their own fantastic campaign), a tide washed ashore a well-known face of the Indian aggression — Arnab Goswami. He might have been sailing his ship in the mighty waters for long but the fall back to the shore was a sight to behold for many. Or so can be seen from the Twitter response to the interview.

When I watched the interview a couple of minutes ago, three years later, when Goswami’s face is no longer the audience magnet for Times Now, I can’t help but wonder why would anyone spend an hour of their lives to watch two men shout at each other, repeating their words over and over again. At least the first half of this interview presented by ACC Cement was too repetitive to be true. Also, it was aggressive in equal measure.

The one thing I found really rude on the host’s part is that although he mentions ‘people want to know’ and ‘people think’ kind of statements to support his questions a lot of times, he does not acknowledge the audience at all. I understand that’s just the format of the show, but I still feel that alienation was borderline disregard.

While the attacks were extremely repetitive, like a mother trying to figure out which of her kid indeed broke the cookie jar, the defence seemed impatiently mature with Raj Thackeray pointing out how it is supposed to be an interview and not an interrogation, mirroring the audience’s desperation, of course!

The ultimate aim of an interview is to find answers and gain an insight into the world of the interviewee. However, it doesn’t seem to be Goswami’s agenda, for most of his work. He often tries to assert his views instead of being the dumb one in order to let the interviewee feel important enough to pour out their views. And that is why this interview stands out in a way that his critics loved, as can be seen from the first answer on this Quora thread:

What is the objective of an interview? Ans: To obtain information, right, everyone will agree to this. But this is not so with our Indian anchors, they go all out to ask the same question again and again using different words, rephrasing the sentences till they elicit the answer that they want, its more of an interrogation as Raj Thackeray rightly put it. I personally have watched hundred of interviews not only on Indian channels but also on BBC, CNN others, there the anchor doesn’t scream, shout, gesticulates, jumps up and down in the chair, then why do the Indian anchors do so! I really loved to see Arnab being shown his place.

Perhaps the second half of the interview was its saving grace as a little information was disseminated, giving out an aspect of Thackeray’s personality. Maybe it was the effect of Thackeray’s threat of leaving the show, but I am definitely not complaining as it broke the monotony of repeated words.

While I do agree with what Shailaja Bajpai wrote in her Indian Express column, post the interview:

On and on it went. Aggression is the best form of defence, but this went beyond all boundaries. In the process, Thackeray revealed a great deal about himself in these interviews, perhaps unintentionally. He came across as hard-headed, stubborn, unbending, quick-tempered, intolerant of criticism and ready to take on all comers.

I would have preferred a half page article to this 44 minutes of torture. But yes, this does constitute a great case study for theoretical purposes, like this blog!

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