Sunday, August 21, 2011

Jagathy Sreekumar's Cognitive Dissonance

If you are a Malayalee, you have by now seen that video in which Jagathy Sreekumar speaks his mind about how anchors or presenters should behave on television. The venue was the grand finale of Munch Star Singer Junior - a reality show on Asianet. It is plain to everyone who is familiar with any amount of Malayalam television that his scathing attack on anchoring was directed at Ranjini Haridas. His problem with Ranjini’s style of anchoring is that she speaks a line or two about the previous performance before going to the judges to hear the scores announced. He argues that no one except the judge of the event has a right to speak about the performance of the participant and if an unqualified speaker such as the anchor says something about it, it is blasphemous and unacceptable.

Fair enough, I accept that as his personal opinion. Except, it isn’t. Moments before he launches the verbal tirade directed at Ranjini, Jagathy says “I like Yadhu (one of the participants) the most” and later he follows it up with “I was at a function earlier this evening and all the housewives in the audience asked me to tell the judges to give the prize to Yadhu. And I am saying this because the public opinion should be heard”.

Wait, what? So essentially he is saying

  • No one should, on any stage, make a comment about the performance of the participants except the judges but I would love it if ‘Yadhu’ wins the prize.
  • And an unqualified speaker does not have right to say stuff when there are qualified judges around and then he plays to the gallery saying their opinion is what matters the most.

Pause. Deep breath. What? Okay, Cognitive dissonance QED.

To me, as a person who has done a fair bit of anchoring, an anchor is well within his/her rights to express his/her opinion on the previous performance and especially so in Ranjini’s case because she rarely uses anything except encouraging language. If you just want a person to call out the next participant’s name, you might as well use a tree.

What is even more WTF is the fact that there was unanimous applause to Jagathy’s statements and Berly the popular malayalam blogger wrote an open letter to Ranjini Haridas in which he tries to shred Ranjini’s take on the same in Deccan Chronicle. Now this, I cannot stand. Berly’s whole argument seems to be based on this premise: Jagathy is a wonderful actor who is deeply loved and respected by all Malayalees. True. Ranjini cannot speak good Malayalam and speaks only English. True. Therefore Jagathy can say anything he wants about Ranjini and she and everyone else should accept it. False.

What irks me most about Berly’s post is the usage of words such as aanatham (manliness) and nattellu (backbone) in his piece on the same. It is clear that such a piece does not target the opinion expressed by Jagathy or Ranjini but the people involved at a personal level. It is most unfortunate that such statements are made in public domain and people are allowed to get away with it. There is a very strong tendency among Malayalees (sorry for the stereotyping) to pull down a person who does good work but is not yet an established personality, even more so if that person can speak some good English.

When God was designing his own country, he got two things wrong on the configuration machine – he turned up the humidity rate to double of what it should have been and turned down the humility quotient to half of what it should have been - a simple typo between humidity and humility perhaps. The basic problem with Malayalee (me included) is his sheer arrogance and inability to accept something good for what it is. The Malayalee has a beef with almost everything (*mild chuckle*), except the widely accepted superstar. And so there is and always will be a lot of negativity surrounding Ranjini Haridas.

PS: Minor edit - I have changed the last line of this post since it was distracting readers from the point at hand. Perhaps it calls for another debate at a later stage.


  1. @ Tony - true that jagathy's personal attack on Ranjini's anchoring did cross the line. But to be frank regarding the negativity surrounding Prithviraj and Sreesanth - I believe that is mainly because of the tone in which they convey what they have in mind. Yes one does have the freedom to use whichever tone one likes to express one's views. But when someone who is just beginning to the tread on the path of glory, comments with tons of arrogance about those who have reached their peak, it does irk a lot of people. This was about prithviraj. About Sreesanth, it just is about the fact that more display of colour than content really does not go down well with most of the viewers. Both the chaps which we are discussing about are infact talented, but rather than letting their work talk about their capabilities, they themselves praised their capabilities to an extent that people started mocking at them. I do not believe that this would have happened, had it been in any other state. Yes, perhaps in states where hero worship has no bounds, there is a possibility of the junta letting them off. But in a state like kerala, it is kind of obvious that if one praises oneself, it will be criticized pretty much

  2. A minor correction to a statement above - I meant, I do not believe that this would not have happened, had it been in any other state.

  3. Perfect tony. I am sharing it in fb.

  4. "And so there is and always will be a lot of negativity surrounding Prithviraj, Sreesanth and Ranjini Haridas."

    You forgot Tharoor.

    btw well said!

  5. Also a man who was involved in the serial rape of a minor should not be taking moral stands let alone any other stand :D

  6. Besides, it was clear that he was drunk. God help us if we learn anything other than acting from Jagthy Sreekumar.

  7. I must admit to a little bias here - positive for jagathy, both as an actor, as well as for a few perspectives he holds as a person (not necessarily on this issue, but say, his definition of professionalism) and negative, for Ranjini, for the random language massacres that I come across..
    On the issue, I am a bit divided. Personally, I'd rather have the judges give their opinion without an anchor foreword, because while anyone who can listen can have an opinion, there are technicalities involved here - a perspective the 'layman' anchor may not have... also, purely as a professional, the anchor making comments falls in a grey area, that's probably why jagathy used "beyond certain limits.." who sets the limits is a good question...
    however since the show format allows for audience opinion (for whatever reasons) the layman gets to give his opinion, and the channel is forced to hear it. whether they act on it is a different matter.. that probably explains the 'playing to the gallery'
    On Yadu, the comment was made after he was out of reckoning (?), so I'd let it pass as a personal opinion and an encouragement to a participant who just missed out.
    Having said ALL that, i think Jagathy did rant this time, and given the occasion, and the fact that the 'object of his affection'
    was on stage, the least he could have done was to make pithy, subtle comments, rather than rub it in...
    maybe the heat of the moment got to him, and he took off... if you look at it objectively, you invoked a stereotype at the end of this post and two examples on a tangent (at best) :)
    I speak for myself when i say that in both cases, they lost my support when their words almost completely replaced the action that was warranted.. sreesanth did all the hard work to get to where he reached, and then lost the plot, even the most die hard fan would have to admit that... as for prithviraj,
    the actors he takes potshots at (irrespective of whether they deserve it or not) have decades of good work behind them. if he just did great movies (which in my book he rarely does) and let his acting do the talking, i'd still be a fan.. his brother, imo, actually does (attempts) a much better job at it...

  8. This could not have been said 'perfectly than this'!!! :) awesomeee... loved the way u put it! :)

  9. Well to be honest , I felt that Jagathy took her case properly on stage .....and me like most of the oder Malyalees listening wud hav felt the whole thing as funny....becuse a reputed actor like Jagathy ......killing it on stage so openly is hard to come Ranjini (though she is an amazing anchor and a gr8 personalilty) bought a certain level of "unMalayalii-ness" to the show with her broken malayalam coupled with her open frank attitude wen she spoke.....Lot of ppl wud have considered this as 'Over -Aaakal" a term popularly known in Malayalam.... I've felt that too a couple of times.... but I'm not saying that jagathy was right in wat he did....evn he went over the line....But it was an eye opener ....There are ways in which the Star Singer show cud avoid some unwanted drama and this "over -aakal"......Having a mic shud not entail the freedom for anyone to do or say wat he/she wants......This applies to Jagathy as well.....

    And well writn Tony....

  10. In simple words, please re-read comment on FB:

    Deepak Padmanabhan( While agreeing that Jagathy could have aired his opinion in a better manner (after all, Star Singer is all about saying whoever is on the stage is the best in the world - no negative comments has probably been the trademark of star singer, as far as I know, and yeah, I dont know much). But, what is the problem with Jagathy commenting about Yadhu? It has already been judged that Yadhu is not the winner, and there is no case of influencing the judges here. And after all, he was asked by Ranjini as to whom he would favor.

    And why cant Jagathy's opinion be of any value? He says that Ranjini shouldnt comment on a performance before the judges make a decision. Isnt that a reasonable opinion? If Ranjini says "very good performance" before she goes on and asks the judges, wouldnt the judges be forced to tone down any opposite comments they may have. Though I dont believe judging in Star Singer is the most fair of processes, still, I think Jagathy has a point. Of course, he should have made sure that he understands that Star Singer is a mutual appreciation forum and not a place to mock others.

    Criticism with respect is a rare thing these days - one probably needs to learn how to do that. Jagathy surely needs to learn that.

  11. Also, people, please listen to what Mr. Jagathy said and also re-read what Miss Ranjini wrote. Jagathy had a point when he spoke on stage but he could have toned it down a bit. Ranjini should have taken it like a woman but did it like a girl with her 'thunder' stolen. Her article proves it.

  12. lemme add on some more points abt us "Malayalees"to ur comments Mr.Tony:
    1-we hesitate to speak in our mother tongue given a chance and try max to communicate wit each other in English or be it any other language...
    2-We try to exhibit lack of knowledge in malayalam."though the mallu slang in english will always give the hint"
    3- We learn all other languages fast..and respect every other languages except malayalam!!!

  13. There fore wat i would like to express is that be it a mallu Called as Ms.Ranjini Haridas or Mr.Jagathy Sreekumar and the "contrversial episode"----Be it watever frm anybodies point of view....As someone who has spend her 20 yrs outside the country and jzz 5 yr living in tamilnadu but hails frm and wanting so much to get back to Gods "own" country...who now can bear the mallus who talk to each other in Tamil....Would like to say that tas the way we are..and tis is how we stand out frm the rest of "Non Malayalees" in the country.....:D

  14. Precisely. I was thinking on the same lines when someone forwarded this video. I don't watch this show and am not familiar with the anchor. Yes, I'm a Malayali.

    Jagathy Sreekumar has every right to opine just like the anchor and 'cheering' audience. But...but he could have chosen better words. That's what I (and other Jagathy fans) expect from an actor of Jagathy's caliber. Mocking this girl (much younger in age) on a public platform was a cheap tactic. It was not a Comedy Show. Jagathy forgot that there's a thin line between being forthright and rude.

    Kudos to the anchor who took it in its stride and concentrated on the actual event.

  15. Couldn't agree more. Going by berly's argument, everyone in kerala deserves to be humiliated on a public stage because we speak English with a mallu accent (there by 'killing' English). Not to say anything about Jagathy's 'get out house-ish' discourse in English at the end ;)

  16. So true! Couldn't have made the point clearer.

    It's so ridiculous that he chose to make that comment publicly like that, in front of two sets of huge live audiences. Even if he had that opinion, it would have been so much more respectable of him to present it in an alternate manner. This was just classless.

  17. Atlast this blog made some sense to the otherwise stereotyped versions on the topic.. Well said Tony!

  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

  19. Wow... You just pulled out the words straight from my head!! Well Written! .. And I completely agree with you a 110% !! :)

  20. What do you mean 'The widely accepted superstar'? I dare you, I double dare you to name this superstar! :P

  21. y don u people spend ur precious time talkin things that r worth talking , she s jus another whore to jerk off

  22. Isnt this a question of etiquette more than anything else? The English Malayalam debate and whether Jagathy is a good actor and whether Ranjini speaks good Malayalam is not relevant here, I feel. However great a person is, it is just NOT right to blatantly criticise the person standing next to you. The language jagathy used did not suit his age or status either.
    As to whether Ranjini is killing Malayalam, (opinion on some of the comments here) she speaks what comes naturally to her, probably.. no one can fake something for so long..if the audience don't like it, let them find a better person for the part. but could they even if they tried? they couldn't..

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