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Ananth Mahadevan: Mainstream media ignorant about Bengal, Odisha and Northeast

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By Arundhuti Banerjee

Filmmaker Ananth Mahadevan is angry over the ignorance of the national media while covering cyclone Amphan that affected the lives of 10 million people. Amphan devastated parts of eastern India including West Bengal and coastal Odisha on May 21.

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While the national media has been emphasising on the COVID-19 pandemic and associated issues like migrants’ plight and failing economy, Ananth believes that the aftermath of the cyclone deserves equal attention.

“Mainstream media is totally ignorant about Bengal, Odisha and the northeastern part of our country. Politicians are ignorant, and that is a different topic that I will come to later, but after such a cyclone, while so many people lost their lives, why has the national media not covered it extensively? Why has the power of journalism not been utilised properly? The pandemic and Amphan are equally disastrous. Bengal and Odisha are also not immune to COVID-19. Now, the common people there are bugged by the cyclone as well,” Ananth told IANS.

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“On one hand, politicians are not making plans with compassion, and here the media is also doing half-hearted reporting! Why?” he wondered.

In 2015, Ananth made a film titled “Gour Hari Dastaan” based on the real-life of an Odiya freedom fighter that reflected the socio-political ignorance that exists in our country toward eastern India.

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Referring the film, he said: “When I first heard about Gour Hari Das, I went and met him. When I started talking to him, I realised that he, who fought alongside Mahatma Gandhi to free the country from the British Empire, had to later fight for his own rights with his own people, it broke my heart.”

Vinay Pathak played the title role of Gour Hari Das in the film.

The filmmaker added: “Das is from Odisha and when he went door to door to collect his freedom fighter certificate, he had to face humiliation and a series of realisation that after so many years of independence, Odisha is still an ignorant part of the country. He is one of the men who freed the country with his own hands, from British Raj. Yes, we talk about culturally diverse India, and here is the example of cultural ignorance!”

Ananth released his new book titled ‘Once Upon A Prime Time’ online that captures the journey of Indian television shows — fiction and non-fiction — from 1983 to the present time.

(Arundhuti Banerjee can be contacted at arundhuti.b@ians.in)



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