Arnab Goswami : Good evening and welcome to Newshour! Why should Indian Reality TV Competition Shows feature Pakistani artists? That is the burning question of the day – especially after MNP chief Raj Thackeray openly threatened noted Bollywood singer Asha Bhosle for putting money over patriotism and agreeing to be a judge on one such music competition show. Today, we will beat this issue to death. Joining us from Mumbai is Mr. Raj Thackeray himself, and also joining us is Asha-ji who will defend her position. Welcome to you both!
Asha Parekh : (slightly bewildered) But…
Arnab Goswami : (interrupting) Ok, I have just been told in my earpiece that we have made a mistake with Asha-ji. We were supposed to get Asha Bhosle for the programme but our young reporters, who couldn’t tell the difference, brought in Asha Parekh instead. Anyway, we will still proceed. Asha-ji, welcome. Just pretend that you are Asha Bhosle and you are representing the position of the music industry, Bollywood, the producers of the reality TV show and UTV. And just so that you sound convincing to our viewers, please can you sing to us all your responses? Thank you!
Asha Parekh : (slightly more bewildered) Naam gum jayega, chehra yeh badal…
Arnab Goswami : (interrupting) I know, Asha-ji! Such a remarkable coincidence that both you and Asha Bhosle share the same name! In fact, I would go ahead and say that to me, you both even look the same!
Raj Thackeray : (with raised finger, thundering) Jai Mahara…
Arnab Goswami : (interrupting) Yes, good of you both to join us! So, like I said, we decided to bring the two warring parties on the same platform so they could thrash out this issue of why it is getting difficult to get Pakistani singers to perform in India. Mr. Thackeray, so what is your point of view?
Raj Thackeray : (with raised finger, thundering) My point of view is very clear. India is for Maharashtrians. Not Pakistanis. Jai Mahara….
Arnab Goswami : (interrupting) Yes, yes, yes, you have made a very important point, Mr. Thackeray. Hold that thought, we will come back to you. Clearly, Mr. Thackeray meant that we are all patriots and after Kargil and 26/11, how can we even think of allowing Pakistanis to perform in our country! The Pakistanis respect Indians less than we Indians respect ourselves, so what is the point of having them perform in our country? Yes, very strong point, Mr. Thackeray! So, Asha-ji, what is your defense on all of this?
Asha Parekh : (even more bewildered) Parde mein rehne do, parda na uthao, parda jo uth gaya toh….
Arnab Goswami : (interrupting) Yes, thank you, Asha-ji, for your perspective. I think you are trying to say that you are being unnecessarily dragged out in the open on this controversy – you would rather hide behind a curtain. Fair point! Mr. Thackeray, I will come back to you now. Why are you dragging this poor woman into this fight between Pakistan and India? In fact, as she is clearly questioning you in her unique style – why mix art and politics?
Raj Thackeray : (with raised finger, thundering) Who is she to defend Pakistanis? Is money bigger to her than Maharashtra? And why are these bloody Pakistanis coming to Mumbai to perform on our TV? Send them to Bihar! That’s where they belong. In fact, send all non-Maharashtrians in Mumbai to Bihar. They are all Biharis anyway. I say even Pakistanis are Biharis! Jai Mahara….
Arnab Goswami : (interrupting) So, I will take this exact question to Asha-ji! Asha-ji, like Mr. Thackeray is saying, you are the judge of this music competition. Tell us, did you really think that we don’t have enough mediocre talent in India, for example in places like Bihar etc., who could come and perform on your show? Why get people from Pakistan and then rig the show to have a winner from Mumbai when you could more easily get some poor suckers from Bihar?
Asha Parekh : (more bewildered) Dum maro dum, mit jaye gham, bolo subha sham…
Arnab Goswami : (interrupting) Alright, I see your point! You are saying, you pushed very hard to get talentless people from Bihar, in fact searched high and low for such people morning and night, and since that didn’t work out, you had to look towards Pakistan? I think that’s a very important point! In fact, Asha-ji, hold that thought. We are inviting another important person into this discussion. Joining us from Patna, Bihar, is the Chief Minister of that state, Mr. Nitish Kumar. Mr. Kumar, you have heard the entire exchange so far. Why do you think Asha-ji thinks there is no talent in your state? As you heard, she has made some very serious allegations against Bihar. What is your response?
Nitish Kumar : (confused) I…
Arnab Goswami : (interrupting) In fact, hold that thought, hold that thought. We will come back to you after just a short break.
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Arnab Goswami : Welcome back! Before we left for the break, we were asking Asha-ji why she and her sister, Lata-ji, decided to live in Mumbai even when they love Pakistan more than that city. In fact, before we even go back to her for a response, let’s bring on a proud Mumbaikar into our panel and get his opinion on this issue. Joining us straight from batting practice is the greatest cricketer of all time, Sachin Tendulkar. Welcome, Sachin! What do you feel about Asha-ji’s decision of loving Pakistan more than Mumbai?
Sachin Tendulkar : Thanks for having me, Arnab. Like I always say, when the ball comes on to the bat…
Arnab Goswami : (interrupting) : I think you have made an incredible point! Let me quickly get Asha-ji’s reaction to your accusation.
Nitish Kumar : (interrupting) Arnab…
Arnab Goswami : (interrupting) Hang on, Mr. Kumar, I will come back to you for your thoughts. Yes, Asha-ji, tell us why do you hate Indians so much, especially Maharashtrians?
Asha Parekh : (much bewildered) Jaiye aap kahan jayenge, yeh nazar…
Arnab Goswami : (interrupting) I see, I see, good point, Asha-ji. So, what do you have to say about that Mr. Kumar?
Nitish Kumar : (extremely confused) What? What do I have to say about what? I am so confused that…
Arnab Goswami : (interrupting) You are very right, Mr. Kumar. It is clearly confusing, in fact, shocking to all of us that Biharis are not allowed to come and go to Mumbai as they please. In fact, we have similar questions about people from the North East as well. Where are they to go if they want to see Shah Rukh Khan or Salman Khan? So, let’s give an alternative scenario to Mr. Thackeray. Mr. Thackeray, coming back to you, what if Asha-ji decided to not have Pakistanis on her program? What if the program featured North Easterners in competition with Maharashtrian singers? Wouldn’t that be acceptable to you?
Nitish Kumar : (flustered and angry) Arnab…
Arnab Goswami : (interrupting) Hold on, Mr. Kumar. I promise I will get your point of view in just a minute. Yes, Mr. Thackeray, go on.
Raj Thackeray : (with raised finger, thundering) Let me first say Jai Maharashtra because you have not once allowed me to complete that sentence. Now, coming to your question…
Arnab Goswami : (interrupting) Let me stop you right there, Mr. Thackeray. Are you saying that if the other contestants in the show were to state their allegiance to Maharashtra, you will be fine with that? No matter whether they come from Pakistan or Bihar? I think that sounds like a great compromise! Asha-ji, what do you have to say about that?
Asha Parekh : (incredibly bewildered) Yeh kahan aa gaye hum….
Arnab Goswami : (interrupting) Oh I see. Are you saying then that the audience will not recognize the show in the new format? They will wonder where the hell they have landed? Fair point, fair point. Actually, hold that thought and we will come back and close this after another short break. Do stay with us!
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Arnab Goswami : And, welcome back! So, when we left for the break, we were asking, what is the future of Indian television in Pakistan. Looks like Mr. Nitish Kumar is dying to put his point across on this. Yes, Mr. Kumar?
Nitish Kumar : (angry, slightly frothing) Arnab, what exactly are you…
Arnab Goswami : (interrupting) Sorry for interrupting, Mr. Kumar, but I can see where you are going with this. Clearly, you want to know why we are restricting Biharis to perform only on Indian TV. If they are talented, why can’t they perform on Pakistani TV? What are all these Aman ki Asha type initiatives good for, if we can’t even achieve this simple thing? After all, Biharis are at least as talented as the people from North East, if not as much as Maharashtrians, even though Assamese are clearly the most talented people in India! Let’s put that question to our new guest, the President of Pakistan, Mr. Asif Ali Zardari. Welcome to the program, Sir!
Asif Ali Zardari : Thank you, Arnab. As you may know, my wife Shaheed Benazir Bhutto….
Arnab Goswami : (interrupting) Yes, that is very true, Sir. Ever since your wife died, Bihar has shown remarkable progress in India. There is no point in not allowing Biharis to perform on Pakistani TV, especially since Maharashtra only wants Maharashtrians to perform in their own programs. Thank you for suggesting this great compromise! In fact, we were more than certain that you will come up with this option, so we have another guest joining the program! Welcome to the program, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh! It is great that you could join us.
Manmohan Singh : …
Arnab Goswami : (interrupting) Sir, are you there? Are you able to hear me? Please say something to confirm that you can hear us.
Manmohan Singh : …
Arnab Goswami : (interrupting) Sir, can you at least nod your head to confirm?
Manmohan Singh : …
Arnab Goswami : (interrupting) So, there you have it, everyone. The Prime Minister’s silence speaks volumes! Clearly, he is in agreement that the only way Pakistani TV can ever hope to be as good as Indian TV is by having Maharashtrians run Pakistani TV as well. Will Aman ki Asha help us achieve that? If Ajmal Kasab lives for another 5 years, and acquires Maharashtrian citizenship, can he be sent as a Maharashtrian to Karachi to improve Pakistani TV? Those are all very important questions and we will raise in another forum discussion. For now, one quick last word from our panelists. Does anyone want to add anything?
Raj Thackeray, Asha Parekh, Nitish Kumar, Sachin Tendulkar, Asif Ali Zardari, Manmohan Singh : (all together, undecipherable) @$#%&& &%%$# %^&*$ #$**^(()*^%% $%%#@!%^&&* %$#$^&
Arnab Goswami : (interrupting) Very good! Thank you, everyone, for a great panel discussion! Moving on, after the break, why is the government not charging the makers of Colgate Toothpaste for all the free brand publicity that the Coalgate scam is providing that organization? Why are billions and billions of rupees being thrown down the drain at this missed opportunity? We will have a special report. Do stay with us.
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