Wednesday 21 December 2022

New Delhi Times [1986]

 Serious and meaningful films on journalism in India are as rare and elusive as serious and meaningful journalism in India – which, of course, isn’t unsurprising given that what passes off as “journalism” in this country, barring a handful of exceptions that can be counted by the fingers of one hand, is a manifestation of the grotesquerie that Wilder presented in his trenchant media satire Ace in the Hole. Films like New Delhi Times and Writing with Fire, therefore, are exceptions that prove the damning rule. Directed with here-and-now gusto by Ramesh Sharma and eloquently written by the great Gulzar, it fearlessly focussed on the unholy love triangle which has become even more conspicuous now than it was then, viz. government-corporate-media nexus. The story is centred on Vikas Pande (Shashi Kapoor), a middle-aged, upright and respected executive editor at the eponymous newspaper, who’s immensely committed to his work and isn’t afraid to speak truth to power. A criminally negligent hooch tragedy and the murder of a politician at a town in Uttar Pradesh catch his attention. And, as he starts digging into these two seemingly unrelated incidents, he ends up uncovering a murky political conspiracy that goes all the way to the state’s Chief Minister who’s embroiled in a grimy power struggle with a brash and ambitious MLA (Om Puri). The dogged and potentially perilous investigative journalism that he conducts, strains his marriage to his lawyer-wife (Sharmila Tagore), earns him the acute displeasure of the politicos, and even sets him at loggerheads with the scion (Kulbhushan Kharbanda) of the ageing industrialist who owns newspaper. His friendship with Anwar, a cynical but fearless photo-journalist, added an interesting layer to the proceedings.

Director: Ramesh Sharma

Genre: Thriller/Political Thriller

Language: Hindi

Country: India

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