Does this article speak of Kangana Ranaut despite the ban fiasco? Yes. However, the main question that remains despite all the hullaballoo, is if an absolute media ban is possible in today’s times? Let us shed some light on the era when the media had banned legendary star Amitabh Bachchan for fifteen years! While there are several similarities between the two incidents, especially with the political references, there are a lot of things that can be learnt to avoid such petty and naive behaviour that don’t really do much to set an example.
In the year 1975, India observed Emergency that was declared by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. The Bachchan family were very close to the Gandhis, and reports suggest that Amitabh used his influence to shutdown Stardust magazine. While censorship isn’t new to the press, it was imposed harshly on Stardust for carrying pieces on Big B, especially those regarded by some as a part of Yellow Journalism. The only reason, this ban was exercised with total monopoly is because not many publications covered entertainment news. It was only during the magazine boom in India, Bollywood became a part of the news coverage.
Due to this cold rift between the two parties, Stardust along with other magazines came together and banned Bachchan once and for all. However, it was in 1982, when Amitabh met with a fatal accident on the sets of Coolie, and Stardust offered a peace treaty by publishing an article on him. But it continued even after and finally when Amitabh faced a dramatic downfall in his career post the Bofors scandal, is when he finally sat down with the MD of Stardust Nari Hira and cleared the air, ending the ban of fifteen years.
Coming to Kangana Ranaut’s spat with a journalist during the promotions of her recent film Judgementall Hai Kya opposite Rajkummar Rao, the intensity of this issue reached another tangent altogether. It started as a regular press conference, but ended in a ferocious argument and an eventual ban called by a section of the media upon the actress.
But was this move legitimate despite the notices exchanged, guilds coming in action and adding legal force to the scenario? The Entertainment Guild that sent out a notice expecting an apology did not consult with media across all platforms. Media is not limited to a couple of establishments, but is now a plethora of options that includes websites, portals, and social media handles that cover B-town at large. Thus, the media in this case was divided. While some actively opposed covering the actress, others maintained a neutral stand, because neither of the two entities were justifying their righteousness in any way.
Is it fair on the part of media to have a stand of its own? Indeed. As journalists, we are entitled to our opinions, rather than following a one sided bandwagon. Journalism has always been objective, and taking a biased stand for either of the two involved would only mean going against the very principles we stand for. So regardless of what happens, it is our job to report the facts and only facts. Answering the question if a media ban is possible today, we’d think not really, because media is no more a niche that has a limit, it is growing every day, and if one shuts the door, several others will open.