January 18, 2020
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Telly All Tale

The stories that Ghose tells would be amusing were they not so tragic.

Telly All Tale
Doordarshan Days
By Bhaskar Ghose
Penguin/Viking Pages: 238; Rs 395
When Bhaskar Ghose was invited to leave West Bengal and become director-general of Doordarshan, Jyoti Basu said: "They won’t let you do anything. Doordarshan is part of the Congress propaganda machine." Ghose concurs, ending his memoirs with, "The tragedy of Doordarshan is the story of a publicly-funded organisation deliberately twisted, distorted and made into a mediocre presenter of programmes lauding the government of the day and doing so badly for the most part." Rajiv Gandhi warned him as much while appointing him, saying: "The government has got its fingers stuck too far inside Doordarshan. You’ll have to pull them out." Ghose tried to but when Congress politicians complained that Doordarshan had become "anti-Congress", it was Rajiv himself who sacked him.

The stories that Ghose tells would be amusing were they not so tragic. Of an auditor who made a producer’s life miserable over the purchase of one small doll. Of a director of the Madras Kendra, who when asked why he hadn’t commissioned any serials, whispered, "CBI".

Ghose’s story shows it’s impossible to run even an effective propaganda machine unless it’s freed from politicians, bureaucrats and bureaucratic procedures.

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