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Invoking an Incantation

Sachin Tendulkar’s long-awaited last Test has thrown the media into a state of heightened emotion. ABP News did its bit for TV with a quote from his wife Anjali, which sounded like it was demanded by the reporter, and which was replayed three times over. An innocuous quote, actually: “Good luck, Sachin, good luck.” But replayed three times, it acquired the ring of an incantation.

Was that a nice touch for the small town audience, where they still have the three for one deal? The last time I recall seeing it in the metros was in Akshay Kumar’s debut movie, Mr Bond. I had watched it ages ago in the night show at Delhi’s Radhu Palace theatre, which was then enthusiastically patronised by rickshaw-pullers and daily-wagers, who wanted it like mother made.

Meanwhile, advertising has become newsy. Gauri Shinde’s Tanishq ad, which can suggest both a woman remarrying while a child from the first marriage watches, or a marriage witnessed by a child born out of wedlock, became a TV story long after it had exploded on social media. NDTV India ran a story wondering if advertising had pulled ahead of India. Of course, there are several Indias, some of which have always stayed ahead of advertising.

In Madhya Pradesh, the advertising war, which began in print, appears to have spilled over to television. The Congress had sparked it off with newspaper ads alluding to cash counting machines allegedly installed by Shivraj Singh Chouhan. The BJP had responded with an ad showing leading Congressmen blindfolded. Now, I caught a bit of a TV ad trying to generate anti-incumbency, in a style that was part Hum Log and part Left revolutionary theatre. Intriguing mix. Wonder if the Congress knows where its propagandists are coming from.

To general surprise, Sonia Gandhi has managed to take the moral high ground in the dirty war, which has broken out on multiple fronts, and which promises to be the defining feature of this election. In Khargone, Madhya Pradesh, she has spoken of the idea of India which is being lost in the endless ad hominem attacks, which seem utterly divorced from the “values of the Ganga-Jamuni civilisation”. Stressing her understanding of the Indian identity with dignity is probably the only way she can fight off the attack from the BJP.

… contd.

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