BEYOND THE PRESENT….CLOSE TO REALITY
Day 1 of the Seminar quirkysup
Friday, May 23, 2008
The sky looked dark and gloomy. The sun had decided to play hide-n-seek with the clouds. The roads were choc-a-bloc with traffic. The rain, a refreshing change from the blistering heat was accompanied with pools of muddy water, overflowing drains and slippery sidewalks. And if you are in a car in a place like Delhi on a day like this…..Lord save you.
At 8 am, 22nd May, 2008 could fit into such a description. Any 20 year old on vacation would be sane enough to snuggle up in bed on a day like this. But not I. Nay. Not I. On this day (just this one, mind you), I belonged to a category of those hard-working, determined, always-up-for-a-cause group of youngsters. For I volunteered to cover BEYOND THE PRESENT ’08, a seminar organized by Sri Aurobindo Institute of Mass Communication. The purpose of the seminar was to examine the role of media in our lives, how it affects us and how it should affect us.
The venue was the elegant Hyatt Regency.
The seminar has been divided into four segments. Journalism, Advertising, Cinema and Photography. The first two were taken up today. And stimulated our senses.
The Journalism segment was chaired by Prof Manoj Das, an eminent journalist and writer. In his cheerful style he talked about the importance of being honest in this profession and the huge responsibility that journalists must carry with passion to be truly successful. Amongs the panelists, Sir Mark Tully, despite a sore throat made it clear that a true journalist is one who lays importance on the fact the people read the stories, not his stories.
Mr. Rahul Dev, a well known figure in Hindi journalism, chose to speak in the language he loved most, Hindi. He expressed deep concern stating that in the next two decades, Indian languages would be completely forgotten and the one language preferred by the literate lot would be – English. Well, with the explosion of so many television channels and newspapers in regional languages, I don’t see that one coming soon. However, he was right when he pointed out that without the presence of the media owners, it was pointless to discuss the ‘objectivity’ of journalism. The buck stops with them after all.
Prof. Ujjwal Kumar Chowdhary, journalist and Director, SIMC, stated that today, the situation of journalism has become so bad that ‘content is all that comes in the space between ads’. He called for clarity in role playing, and a need to make the medium more engaging and participative.
The panel discussion was followed by a question-and-answer session. Here a lot of negativity ensued. One crazy bloke blamed media colleges for not training students to become fearless in their field. He questioned Jessica Lal’s character, stating she had no business to be out bartending that fateful night! Excuse me sir, may I? Firstly, it’s no one’s business to question her personal life, because these matters are of no consequence to the case, and we in the media respect a right to privacy. Secondly, Fearlessness is not exactly a subject. It can’t be taught. It just comes from within, when there is enough passion for the job. Period.
Lunch time came and went. Brilliant. Colorful Indian dishes and creamy pasta pepped up everyone for the next segment, Advertising.
Now this was interesting (partly because I’m fond of the subject). Mr Ram Sehgal, President of Contract Advertising and one of the finest Managers of the country, chaired the discussion. He loves enthusiastic kids and he loves carving careers for them.
I was soon mesmerized by an animated presentation given by Sumanto Chattopadhyay, Executive Creative Director, Ogilvy & Mather, South Asia. He very honestly stated that advertising reflected us, the society and showed a number of his own ads to prove his point. His presentation, though long, was full of fun and wit. He ended on a positive note saying that the future of advertising is going to be more consumer controlled with digital media leaving no stone unturned.
A.F.Mathew, professor at MICA and Sudhir Sahni, President of Ogilvy & Mather, Delhi had interesting things to say too.
The discussion ended. The questioning started. Yet again, criticism towards the industry, pessimism towards its ‘profit-making’ motive and a load of other things that made my stomach churn. I just wish such people, instead of expending precious energy on jabbing the industry, would take out time to read a bit on the subject. There is a lot that goes in making an ad click. A lot. And people need to appreciate that.
Well, Day 1 of the seminar ended thus. It was raining moths and mice that morning. I almost didn’t go. Thank God I did. Else I would have missed an experience of a lifetime...
What struck me was that these guys are so honest about their jobs. They revel in it. Its not a job for them, Its their way of life. Such people are truly awe-inspiring. And SAIMC did a great job in making duckheads like us realize that sleeping isn’t the best way to pass time after all. Because there is just so much to do and learn and live.
I loved it.:)