At the FICCI Frames meet in Mumbai on Monday during a Q & A with Karan Johar, the I & B Minister Smriti Irani was asked byJohar why the film industry was made a soft target for attacks.
To this Ms Irani reacted, “Now that you recognize me as an insider, honestly put your hand to your heart and tell me, how many of us manufacture that outrage because we don’t have a film which is that good but we know we will get the eyeballs…We are all in the business of it, it’s the best-kept secret which is just out there. Nobody wants to talk about it.”
Filmmaker and Industry spokesperson Ashok Pandit has not taken the comments well.
Says Pandit, “It is really tragic that such an incriminating remark should come from someone who has been part of the Indian entertainment industry for years. When Smriti Iraniji says filmmaker manfacture controversies, which filmmakers and films does she mean? Abhishek Choubey’s Udta Punjab, Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil and Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat? Does she think these films needed to manufacture outrage to get noticed? She should know that it’s not controversy but content that works. Smiritiji’s serial Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi ran for 7 years, not because of the controversies, but the content.”
Pandit feels saddened by Smriti’s insinuations. “It is disheartening when a legend of the TV industry talks so disparagingly about the entertainment industry. It would be nice if the minister would not forget her roots and alienate herself from the entertainment industry. The industry sells entertainment and not their souls.We never sell our creations short just so that we can find 5 minutes of prime time on news channel. The ministry never falters from collecting taxes but never stands by us when we are in a crisis. You can’t point fingers when you never offer a shoulder to support.”
However, Ashok Pandit is quick to point out that there is a malaise in the media that seeps down into the entertainment business. “The way in which Sridevi’s death was sensationalized was deplorable. Sections of the electronic media went berserk with the speculation. They even made poor Boney Kapoor sound like a murderer! Poor guy! First, he had to deal with the bereavement than the backlash. However, a very positive thing happened out of this negative reportage. For the first time the entire nation stood up in disgust to protect against the vulgar excesses of the electronic media in the reports on Sridevi’s death. She has two young daughters. Imagine what they ’re going through. Show some decency, please.”