On the other side of - not the fence - the camera!
Theoretically, that title is not right. And it's only my devotion to facts (cultivated after years in journalism) that makes me admit that the first thing in this post is a lie.
Because I'm not behind no mike/camera, since i am a pen pusher, i.e. write for a newspaper. Though I've quite some experience with the fence. In the most trivial-est of issues, I have fun sitting on the fence. Before that moment of epiphany strikes me and I decide which way to jump.
But that's quite not the subject at the moment.
I'm talking about my experience last weekend, when I had to do a shoot with Doordarshan for a talk show on mental illness. Since I'm rather fond of saying things first, and anyway this comment is bound to come up sometime, let me say it, "appropriate choice of speaker!" Well, wisecracks apart, i had to speak in Tamil, or rather, Tanglish, since the organisers insisted a mixture of Tamil and English. They seemed more comfortable with it. I have given talks entirely in Tamil before, so it was not THE challenge.
The challenge was to say something that has not been said before. But I forget. The challenge, actually, was to feel comfortable amidst that ghastly garden of green plastic that Doordarshan thought was decor. Plastic flowers, plastic mats, plastic chairs, plastic smiles, plastic whatever. It shall be to my eternal mortification that I sat amongst all that er... untactful, politically incorrect plastic.
These are the kind of things we do for love of a cause.
It was Dr.Thara of Schizophrenia Research Foundation (SCARF) who asked if I could be on the show. I agreed because I still have'nt found out how to turn her down. The show itself is called "Magalir Panchayat" and the three episodes that were shot on Saturday were part of a capsule on mental health, in observance of World Mental health Day on October 10.
The anchor, Bharathi Baskar, who otherwise has a rather lucrative job with a multinational bank, is apparently in it because it is her calling. Must admit that she was pretty good, getting junta (including patients who have recovered and media people who have not!) to talk, cutting them short when they rambled and saying the appropriate things in the appropriate tenor.
So where am I, you ask? Well, I dont appear until the third episode of the programme. Or rather, I say some profound things only in the third and final episode. Why this should be appreciated is because the anchor, Bharathi, and Rangarajan of Dinamani ( a Tamil newspaper) said most of the significant things before I could get a chance at the microphone. Come to think of it, it's partly my fault, cause in the beginning, I said I would be happy to add the glamour element to the media entourage so spare me the questions!
They took me at half my word, and spared me the first couple of questions, but I had to reckon with the armageddon at some point.
Soon after that, they thought it fit to wind up the show. And wasn't I glad! After sitting for one-and-a-half hours on a rock-hard wooden seat, at the end of it, I could have been a model for a robot - you know, stiff limbs and all.
Made a break for the exit. Need I add, I was also running before they could tell me when the show would be aired!!! To my comfortable side of the fence: behind the camera, behind the pen, behind the keyboard!