Recently I was asked by a young lad, who wants to pursue journalism, as to what does a typical Reporter mostly spend his time on, and I had no hesitation in replying ‘waiting for press conferences to start’.
If a reporter has put in a service of 18 years in the field, you can safely assume that a cumulative 15 to 16 years would have gone in pointless wait at the various functions and press conferences that he had been assigned to cover. In the case of a film reporter, it is quite possible that he or she had spent the entire 18 years just waiting. Film industry reporting is basically fishing minus the angling rod and the water body.
This is how stuff works in the daily calendar of a film reporter in these parts:
The PRO of a film or an actor will text that a press conference will be held on, say, Friday 3 p.m. and the reporter, chastened by the experience that not once has a film function started on time, will turn up at the venue at around 4.30 p.m. to find two dogs sleeping near the entrance. But if it were his lucky day, the said PRO would have arrived. And he would usually be moving around talking animatedly over the phone. The reporter will wave his hand in a cursory greeting and the PRO would, even more cursorily, resting the mobile on the neck and tilting his head and ear over the mobile so that it doesn’t fall off on the incline of his shoulder, will spread out both his palms and all the fingers towards the reporter, in a mimetic gesture to indicate ‘10 minutes’, which is supposed to be the time in which the function will start. He will keep making this ’10-minute-signal’ over the next one hour or so.
The reporter will, meanwhile, move towards the random knot of his counterparts from other publications, all sincerely doing duty near the food counter, and proceed to —- this is insider information and you may perhaps want to write this down —- discuss weather and traffic in the city. Also, in general, nobody has a good word to say for the weather and traffic.
During this utterly random talk, unfailingly someone will pipe up, ‘yaaruda adhu’ (who is that?), with his eyes fervently following a young thing moving around in the vicinity. ‘Is she an actress? Is she in this film?’ will be his supplementary question even before anyone had begun answering his first query.
‘No da,’ someone in the gaggle will eventually say. ‘She is not an actress. She is the new film reporter in such-and-such channel’. Trying to tell apart actresses and female film reporters in news channels is the latest fun game among male reporters. And the consensus in the fraternity is: Actresses usually have less makeup. (I am generalizing here. But heck, this is a humour column not an UN report on gender behaviour at work spots).
Anyway, food and various gossip dutifully done, the reporters will slowly troop into the hall where the function is scheduled and settle down in chairs and proceed to — as has been mandated by the Press Council and the Editors’ Guild —- update their status on various social media platforms (*Another wait. Another irresponsible star. @&^%$#*) (By the way, whose stupid idea was to euphemise symbols for cuss words? It attracts attention even more, like miniskirts in a nunnery).
Meanwhile, the minion of the PRO will arrive and announce that the star of the evening will arrive within 10 minutes and he was so far delayed due to an unexpected meeting/traffic/earthquake in Tahiti. As if the reporters were interested in knowing the reason for the delay.
But after several more minutes, the star of the evening will actually arrive, probably unwittingly, and the reporters can finally have an unhindered look of the one thing that they had waited for along. No, wait. All the reporters get to see is the posterior of the rugby-scrum of camera persons who, like elephants on heat, will scramble around for a firm position.
After all this, the reporters will be in no mood to take notes or listen to what is being spoken. And that is why news reports on film functions have basically become an unending photo album of stars at the event. Not that people were queueing up to read what reporters were writing. But I don’t blame the people. I mean any day it is nicer to see Samantha speak than read what Samantha spoke.
What I am worried about is that one day a star may actually turn up for an event on time and probably find no news reporters but only the two canines lying around and decide that, based on literal evidence, journalism has gone to the — wait for it —- well, you better keep waiting.
The jokey end will arrive in ’10 minutes’.