Journalism In Cinema: A Screening of The Post, Film Companion

There’s a terrific moment in Steven Spielberg’s Academy Award nominated The Post starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, where the Supreme Court of the United States reaffirms to the public that the press is here to serve the governed, not the governors. This became the bright and shining takeaway, from a Saturday evening at the ongoing 2018 edition of the Kala Ghoda Art Festival where The Post was screened by &Privé HD – a premium destination in the Indian broadcast space for discerning fans of English cinema, and is one among the channel’s celebrated titles.

The film tells the story of Katharine Graham (Streep), owner and publisher of the Washington Post, and its editor Ben Bradlee (Hanks) who, at great risk to their personal safety and the future of the paper, come to publish secret papers that show how consecutive governments have lied to the American public about the Vietnam War.

In keeping with &Privé’s passion to make the consumer experience cinema through a different lens, engage with the insightful non-conformist to make him truly ‘Feel The Other Side’ of a film, the screening was followed by a discussion on journalism and films that brought together some of the fiercest names from both professions: Aseem Chhabra, Ramesh Sharma, Sachin Kalbag, Sujata Anandan and panel moderator for the evening, Mayank Shekhar.

There was no way to discuss a film like The Post without a discussion of the times we live in. Aseem Chhabra, an eminent author and film writer who works across India and the States, noted that the film was a direct response to Donald Trump’s presidency and his consistent repression of press freedoms.

Closer to home, the journalists on the panel lauded the bravery of the Indian press in matters like the investigative coverage of Justice Loya’s mysterious death. Sachin Kalbag, executive editor of the Hindustan Times, maintained the importance of the press and the judiciary as checks and balances to power. “The press is still the only hope because our judiciary is contaminated,” said Ramesh Sharma, director of the National Award winning movie New Delhi Times, that starred Shashi Kapoor and Sharmila Tagore. The film was based on a true story. Mayank Shekhar, who is also an author and film critic, made a rather ominous observation. “Remember, while the 1st amendment in the United States protects freedom of speech and the press, the 1st amendment in the Indian constitution curtails it…”

Journalist and author Sujata Anandan pointed out the loneliness of our local Indian publications that take on the establishment and shared anecdotes from the trenches. She told the story of how several young Indian journalists had pooled in money to fight the courts to lift the stay on reporting the Sohrabuddin case. Ramesh Sharma brought a filmmaker’s perspective to the panel, critiquing the pressure on young filmmakers today to make only films that entertain, even if they have a “message”.

&Privé is home to more than 350 of the finest, thought-provoking and unconventional English films where connoisseurs can enjoy over 40 critically acclaimed movie premieres including The Post, which will soon be screened to televisions across India.

When Mayank Shekhar engaged the panelists to name their favourite films that centered on journalists and journalism, Ramesh Sharma said he considered All The President’s Men to be “the definitive film in that category.’ Incidentally, the Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman starrer captures the investigative coverage of the Watergate scandal that directly followed the events of The Post, and is slyly alluded to at the end of the Spielberg film. Sharma also recommended The Front Page and The Network. For Sachin Kalbag, it’s a film as obscure as State Of Play, “a procedural movie that shows you how a story actually lands in the newsroom.”Aseem Chhabra responded most enthusiastically, recommending Spotlight, Broadcast News, the classic Citizen Kane, Ramesh Sharma’s own New Delhi Times and an HBO documentary he co-directed called The Journalist And The Jihadi, that narrates the chilling details of the kidnapping and murder of journalist Daniel Pearl.

“It’s interesting how the director of the only Indian film you’ve named is on this panel,” Mayank Shekhar observed. “There’s also No One Killed Jessica,” Aseem Chhabra hurried to add, “for Rani Mukerjee’s depiction of a very Barkha Dutt-like character in the Jessica Lal case.” “This is actually the time to make more films about the tensions between the powers and the powerless,” Ramesh Sharma said. “It’s the job of filmmakers to give a voice to the powerless.” His words rang truest at the end of the evening, leaving the audience to feel the lesser-known aspects of cinema and its immeasurable influence.

&Privé is home to more than 350 of the finest, thought-provoking and unconventional English films where connoisseurs can enjoy over 40 critically acclaimed movie premieres including The Post, which will soon be screened to televisions across India. From the house of ZEEL (Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd), this is an HD-only premium channel for those who want to be taken on a journey beyond the film’s runtime and #FeelTheOtherSide of cinema. As part of their signature programme The Winning Side, &Privé will showcase Oscar-winning films like Moonlight, Arrival and Hugo everyday between Monday to Friday at 9 PM until this year’s Academy Awards on March 4th.

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