The advantage of TV is that its in every home.The disadvantage is: You dont have a committed viewer.
Cinema has a viewer,who leaves home,travels to theatre,buys the ticket,commits to sitting there for two-and-halfhours.If its a bad film,hell abuse the hell out of you.
If its really bad,he may leave half way through.But hed still commit to you his full,undivided attention.
The flip side to TV is that there are 120 channels,you can switch to any,there are other things you could be doing: cooking,the child may want your attention..
. Do you then wish to sit through an hour-and-half of somebody elses domestic violence issues You have to make that topic reach out to peoples hearts,hold their attention,take them along.
In other words,I have to struggle with all my skill sets as a communicator and apply them in storytelling.Lets take the first episode on female foeticide.
I could have started the episode with,Today were going to be discussing a grave issue,female foeticide: Kanya gunn hatya .Hamari mahilaon ke saath bahut atyachar ho raha hai.
My guess is people wouldve tuned off in five minutes : Haan,mahilaon ke saath bahut problem hai. So how do we communicate this I ask the audience,who is the most important person in their lives.
They all say,mother,quite naturally.Whatever we are is because our mothers looked after us.
Otherwise we wouldve died.And then I ask them,How are we treating our mothers these days I dont say,mahila,I say maa,though I mean the same thing.
I am being honest with accuracy of my research,which is the journalistic aspect.The creative aspect concerns how you convey it.
Practically all your episodes stress on the individual being the change they wish to see.The pesticide episode seemed an anomaly.
Theres little I can do about pesticides as an individual.What made you choose The subject We chose the topic because it is connected to each one of us at a basic level.
We eat to survive.And the food were eating today is not free from chemicals and other poisons.
This affects our health,our own future and of generations to come.We go to the market,shop for groceries,feel we eat a healthy diet.
What healthy We havent spoken to you about heavy metal contamination or genetic seeds.Those are other problems.
But just by focussing on one aspect,we have made people aware of what we want to move towards,and how I can move towards it.How can I improve my food By asking for organic food.
When you ask for organic food,you create demand for it.The supply gets created.
It is also our policies that decide how much poison comes on our plate.As long as our policies state that we will give subsidies to farmers for chemical farming,but not for organic farming,what do you think the farmers will do Rs 83,000 crore of our money has been given as subsidies this year to farmers for chemical fertilisers through fertiliser companies.
Do you genuinely believe organic farming can feed the world I'm not concerned about the world.I'm concerned about India.
Do you believe pure organic farming can feed India 101 per cent. But before the Green Revolution in the 60s,we used to go with a begging bowl to the world to feed ourselves.
My research throws up things that question that.India is ideal for organic farming.
What is the average size of a farm in America Thousands of acres.Whats the average size of a farm in India Less than two acres.
That is the size of a building compound.India is full of small and marginal farmers,and importantly,you now have modern methods of organic farming.
Weve shown you examples of this.There is Hukumchand,a hardcore farmer,who tells me his yield is the same with organic farming.
In 2003,you had come on TV,putting your own credibility at stake,to give a clean chit to Coca Cola.It was found to have pesticides and insecticides 30 times more than permissible limits.
Surely you faced flak from NGOs at the time.Did you also feel the need correct a perception I still stand by what I did then.
When the issue of pesticides in cola came up,I was as concerned as anyone else.I called the Coca Cola people to explain their stance.
They explained to me that pesticides exist in water.Pesticides are not added to Coke,or used in its manufacture.
Pesticides are sprayed for agriculture.Therefore they go into the soil and ground water.
That water they use for soft drink manufacture is put through five processes of cleaning.So,the content of pesticides in normal water actually gets reduced five times over.
They also informed me that food has far more pesticides than cola,simply because in cola,the water is processed and cleaned.This is not possible for vegetables,fruits,grains,etc.
I didn't take them at face value.I sent my lawyers to purchase food articles from Khar market,and also a can of Coke.
I sent it independently to a laboratory.The testing corroborated what the company explained to me.
It could have been convenient for me to terminate my contract with Coca Cola.I wouldve become a national hero overnight.
But I realised that these companies are in fact,cleaning pesticides from water.To answer your question,I still feel and felt then,without a doubt in my mind,that processed water actually reduces pesticides.
But it still is not in conflict with what the episode on pesticides was trying to say.And [the Coke controversy] is not the reason I would or wouldnt do an episode on pesticides.
As a socially conscious celebrity,do you feel you may have burnt your fingers by taking up causes;the Narmada dam issue in 2006,for instance Is it true that you had actually gone in support of Bhopal Gas Tragedy victims,and ended up spending few minutes with Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) activists Neither is true.I had actually gone to release Kiran Nagarkars book in Delhi.
When I was passing Jantar Mantar,I saw groups of people sitting with placards and flags.I just asked what was happening.
I was told about both the protests.There were people in support of Bhopal Gas victims on one side of the road,and NBA people,on the other.
And you were in a traffic jam..
. I was told the NBA people were sitting in protest because the height of the (Sardar Sarovar) dam was being raised.
But thats not what they were objecting to.The Supreme Court had passed an order that the people being affected by this,people whose homes would now come under water,had to be rehabilitated before the height was raised.
The topic of the day was: Rehabilitation of people who have lost homes,villages and land.On the other side were Gas victims.
I was told the protests had been going for many days and were getting nowhere.I went and sat in support of both.
Would I like the various governments under which those villages come to provide rehabilitation I would.If my support can get their voices across,I would like that to happen.
Only the Narmada Bachao Andolan got reported widely,though. That one also got reported more widely because it became a political issue.
The Youth Congress in Gujarat burnt my posters,after which,not to be left behind,the BJP burnt my posters.My films were banned in Gujarat.
The political class hit out at me,and I went on record to stick to my stance,expressing only shock and surprise that politicians who are supposed to be working for the people should have an issue with rehabilitating them.Common sense cant explain to me why they would not want to do that.
I still fail to understand why any politician would find what I did objectionable.And I was only echoing what the Supreme Court had already said.
To answer your question on whether I burnt my fingers: Did I face a backlash Yes.Did that make me alter my position No.
I stuck to my guns. What about the Anna movement You were there right beside Anna,actively endorsing him.
People assumed that I am joining the Anna movement as an activist.This was probably a hope,or desire that they were offloading on to me.
Or that I was joining the Narmada Bachao Andolan.I was not.
As a citizen,if I feel that what you are saying is correct,I would want to endorse or support it.But that doesnt mean that I am joining your movement.
Suppose I hold a press conference tomorrow saying,I am going to quit acting to join the Anna movement,then thats different.I am saying: Here is a person,whose name happens to be Anna Hazare,but thats not important.
Whats important is what hes asking for: Can we have a strict law against corruption Because I agree with that,I want to publicly support him.I am hoping that you also do it.
This is how a democracy ought to function,where people vocally support what they believe in. Did you get into the complexity of how a Lokpal could create a super-structure within an existing democratic one Or where are we going to get someone to guarantee the sort of trust we cant repose in our current leaders Have you studied this in detail Fair bit .
I have studied this in great detail.The system has to be stronger than the individual.
What Anna and his team were trying to put in place was a strong system.Obviously,people were going to be part of this system.
From within the same system..
But today,if there is a law that says: If I have indulged in corruption,I will get a maximum sentence of six years.But the law doesnt say the money I have earned through corruption has to be returned to the people.
Then Ill earn 15,000 crore and go to jail for six years.Do you then want a law that says you must return the public money you ran off with Its very easy to scuttle issues over the fact that some human being will be coming in (as the arbiter).
But ultimately people are going to manage everything.You may as well get rid of all laws.
But we have enough laws.The problem has been with the implementation.
For anti-corruption law,the bill has not been passed for 32 years.Not three,not two,32 years.
What does it mean Obviously,there should be a law.People weve elected to pass the law are obviously not moving on it.
Tell me a good reason why not. Why do you think the movement eventually got discredited or fizzled out Thats an altogether new topic.
Well have to do a fresh interview on it. Coming back to your show: Youve also been deeply critical of the way audience numbers get tabulated for Indian television.
A very small sample size decides what a whole country could be watching.Did the shows ratings bother you - compared to the quantum of response the shows received I am not from the TV world.
In the film world,when we say a films done a certain business,we have an actual count of the tickets sold.So I am not used to guessing or extrapolating figures on assumed information.
I used to hear about TRPs (Television Rating Points),not knowing what it exactly was.When I was told that there are 7,000 boxes,based on which theres some formula to figure what the country is watching,it didnt make sense to me.
The moment I understood that,I put it aside.Much earlier I told the team at Star not to tell me what the TRPs are.
Even if they are 100 per cent,theyre inaccurate.For a lot of people who do follow them,the TRPs of the show are very high.
Sunday morning timeline is 0.8.
Were over 4. At prime time,you skip channels.
In the prime time band,lots of channels register high TRPs because a lot of people are going in and out of programmes.If you stay for more than 60 seconds,it gets counted as one view.
The average TRP in prime time on weekdays is 4 point something,which means one shows gets 3.8,another gets 4.
2,yet another gets 4.5 and so on.
In other words,this five times jump from 0.8 to 4 for our programme on the (Sunday morning) time band is because people want to watch this programme and nothing else.
That is if you decide to believe in TRPs.I dont.
Am I concerned with how many people want to watch my show I want the entire country to watch it.Why do you think I am on 10 channels,in so many languages,on Doordarshan Had fewer people been watching it,would I have been disappointed and shattered Yes.
Its another matter that the number of people watching the show is historic.It cannot be calculated by TRPs.
But there is no other standardised scale. Exactly,how do we measure this then If you look at the entire Internet and social media space,that tells me how many people are watching it,and I could make a presentation on it.
We have a team that tells me how many people,and from where all in the world,including India,are connecting to the show.But then,these are only people who use Internet.
And not all Internet users tweet.What this gives you is indicative figures,certainly more indicative than 7,000.
Because were talking about several millions. Emails and postal letters cue me in.
And most importantly,an All India Radio show,where people call in from different parts of the country.Everyone whos called in has told me that in his village,town and locality,life comes to a standstill,to watch this show together.
The feedback I am getting is that huge numbers are watching the programme,irrespective of geographical location and economic class.I feel the TV industry needs to find a way,a more accurate technique,to figure out how many people are watching our show,with due respect to people currently conducting the surveys(less)