If someone in India has taken William Shakespeare’s monologue ‘All the world’s a stage’ literally and on its face value, and not the essential poetic interpretation, it’s Arnab Goswami, who claims to be India’s Number 1 news anchor, just like Donald Trump does at times while levelling evidence-less allegations.
The Republic TV chief, in judicial custody for 14 days, is not missing out on action despite the confinement that is caging him and his screams from the television audience; thanks to the occasional outings to the court. But, in the court, judges can respond, unlike the TV audience, and that too with a sharp retort if they feel so.
Back to Shakespeare, whereas the bard wrote about the stages of life, where men and women play their different roles, Arnab finds his platform everywhere. And he makes the best of it every time, making it to memes for his acts that find a place in mimicries and comedy shows. Though may not be in handbooks for journalism.
All who have read Shakespeare know about the role of court jesters, of providing a comic relief if seen from the broader perspective. They entertain the monarch and their guests in the king’s court. In one of the judicial courts recently, something similar happened: Arnab found his stage, but the feedback wasn’t “number 1”.
On Wednesday evening, when Arnab was presented (yes, and not produced) before the chief magistrate, Sunaina Pingale, of the Alibag court, the Republic chief made all efforts to put up a performance worth an episode, better than the courtroom dramas that Indian cinema aced at one point of the time.
When Arnab was asked to stand behind a plastic partition, he tried to climb the dais in front of the magistrate, according to advocate Vilas Naik, representing the kin of the deceased interior designer Anvay Naik, whose suicide note naming him has landed him behind the bars.
He again created a scene by waving his hand and raising his voice to show his injury marks to the magistrate, only to be rebuked by her and be told to “behave like an accused” and maintain the decorum of the court, reports said quoting the lawyer. But that didn’t make Arnab refrain from interrupting the session again. He called the medical officer liar when he was being questioned by the magistrate.
Later this scene, in the same act, Arnab’s wife, Samyabrata, was found allegedly voice-recording the court proceedings and BJP MLA Rahul Narvekar was asked to leave the courtroom for disturbing the proceedings.
The man leading the Republic TV put up another unsavoury behaviour when the judgment was being dictated. Found trying to sip a soft drink inside the courtroom, he was asked to go outside.
But this behaviour will not surprise anyone this is what has been Arnab’s USP that took Republic’s TRP on a ride to the top, though now investigation is on whether the channel had fudged viewership data. This has been his style. And this was well evident in his primetime in the previous few months when the Sushant Singh Rajput case was at its peak and a slugfest was on involving multiple stakeholders: CBI, ED, NCB, Mumbai Police, Maharashtra government, Sushant’s family, and Arnab, not directly connected to the case but omnipresent.
In what was being termed as a new low in reporting by a section of the society and the media, Arnab was seen at the height of his performance with his reporters carrying out what they called “investigative journalism. So much so that even the Bombay High Court was forced to rap the channel for its reportage on the Sushant case, asking whether it was “investigative journalism” to build public opinion on who should be arrested.
His “drugs do” performance during an episode on the Bollywood-drugs-Sushant case is another popular example.
Mimicked for his loud screams and not letting his guest panellists speak, answering his questions on his debates, Arnab has turned from a news reporter to newsmaker. Rather he himself is now the news. And to be in the news one needs performance, like celebrities, politicians, sportspeople, etc. And perhaps that’s what Arnab is doing.
Arnab is currently in 14 days judicial custody. He was arrested in a 2018 abetment to suicide case of interior designer Anvay Naik, who had allegedly killed his mother before taking his own life. In a suicide note purportedly by him, he said he was forced to resort to this step as he was not paid dues of ₹5.4 crore by Arnab of Republic TV, Feroz Shaikh of IcastX/Skimedia and Niteish Sarda of Smartworks.