Anna MM Vetticad Profile picture
Jun 8, 2020 23 tweets 8 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
I wrote this article in The Tribune @thetribunechd on the long-running prevalence of #Punjab/i/s - the state, the language, culture & people - in Bollywood.

The article includes interviews with #JuhiChaturvedi, #RheaKapoor, @KomalNahta & @shakunbatra.…
"The upside of the Bollywood trend is goodwill for Punjabis among viewers... The downside includes...the marginalisation of the community’s tragedies & uncomfortable socio-political realities in Hindi films." More in the article. Do read, comment, share 👇🏽…
Addendum: while working on this article, I learnt that though tons of media articles say @karanjohar is #YashChopra's nephew, s/o Yash's sister Hiroo, & even Karan's Wiki page says so, the truth is the Johars & Chopras are not related. Some lessons to be learnt here so, thread👇🏾
Why did I feel the need to fact check this? Because while many articles on respected media websites make this claim, my antennae shot up when I could not find a single interview in which #KJo himself says, "I'm Yash Chopra's nephew" or "Mom is Yash Chopra's sister" and (Contd)
...niggling doubts tend to drive me up the wall 🤯 After scouring the Net for days unable to get a confirmation, I phoned @PoonamSaxena_ (since she co-authored KJo's autobiography) - Poonam was sure the Net is wrong. Her response told me I had been right to be doubtful, (Contd)
...but I still wanted a 100% confirmation because: how could so many media platforms and KJo's own Wikipedia page get this wrong? Though Wiki can be edited by anyone, public figures who can afford PR teams usually monitor their Wiki profiles, hence my lingering doubt. (Contd)
...So finally, with time running out and left with no choice, I called KJo himself to set my mind at rest. I felt awkward doing so because: what if the Net is right and he thought I was being nitpicky? Thankfully, that was not his response 🙂 (Contd)
...You may ask: what's the big deal?" Answer: FACTS MATTER. This particular falsehood has been around for perhaps 23 years - it may be harmless, but it is also sobering because it goes to show how long even serious misinformation/propaganda might survive and (Contd) easily fake news can be spread to cause harm, as we have seen all too often in recent years when online rumours have led to lynchings and riots. It is also a sobering reminder that very few media organisations invest in fact checkers - it is next to impossible (Contd)
...for individual journalists to do such extensive fact checks on every word and every line of every article they write without some support from their organisations. I did in this case, but what if I had not noticed any red flags? And at a time when journalists are (Contd)
...being paid pathetically, let me tell you the amount of time I spent on this one fact check is time I actually cannot financially afford because it means time away from doing other assignments. That's one part of this discussion. (Contd)
...If I have retained your attention so far, I'm using this opportunity to take this further & tell you something I've repeatedly told journalism students that I have taught over the years. I hope younger journalists & students reading this thread find it helpful, (Contd)
...but some of this applies to the general public too. (1) Teach yourself how to conduct research on the Internet. Just because it is on the Net does not mean it is right. (2) Wikipedia is often wrong because almost anyone can edit it. (Contd)
(3) Wiki is meant to be used as a secondary source. Do not use info from Wiki unless it is corroborated by a reliable primary source. (4) What is reliable? Tough one because, as we see in the #KJo-#YashChopra example, major mainstream publications have got it wrong, (Contd)
...I assume without ill intentions, possibly because Wiki said so + Karan has always referred to "Yash Uncle". (5) One solution is to additionally apply common sense. C'mon, if you are Indian you should know that "Uncle" does not necessarily mean a blood tie is involved😄 (Contd)
(6) Keep your antennae on constant red alert for your own biases. I remember a poorly done US satirical website's article claiming there is a #rape fest in #Assam. I don't know how US readers reacted but in India many people shared it expressing outrage against Assam. (Contd) Image
...It took just a quick glance to learn that the article was on a news satire platform. Why did so few Indians check? How many Indians fell for that 'news' because as a country we tend to exoticise our fellow citizens from Assam and the rest of the North East? (Contd)
(7) As a journalist, if you can get a confirmation from the horse's mouth, do so. But why did I not check with KJo / Poonam right at the start, you ask? Well, I feel I must exhaust other fact-checking avenues before phoning busy people with multiple demands on their time. (Contd)
...Whether it's a public figure you know well, a friend or relative, everyone's time is to be respected - too many people on SM do not, which is why when a journalist tweets an article, some people ask questions without bothering to read the article🙄 Separate discussion (Contd)
...Back to the subject at hand. (8) Obviously the public cannot be expected to personally fact check everything, but you can certainly be cynical about outlandish claims and not share them until reliable media have confirmed them, examine your own biases, (Contd)
...avoid news platforms with a track record of intentionally carrying fake news, and always ask for the source when a friend shares random information with you. "I read it on WhatsApp" is just not okay. Eg: Was that friend on WhatsApp sharing a published article (Contd)
...or just stringing together facts without revealing their source? Is the original writer an expert? Question. Question. Question. (Contd)
Thankfully the Johar-Chopra rumour has done no harm afaik, but FYI: #KaranJohar is not a blood relative of BR, Yash or #AdityaChopra - Karan himself confirmed this to me. Thread over. Now go back to the 1st tweet & read my article in The Tribune: "#Punjab, #Punjabi, Punjabis" 😀

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People ask so casually, "why don't you complain?" even when a woman highlights something comparatively less grievous like misogynistic trolling. Here is a survivor of physical assault who courageously filed a police complaint, & look what it has got her in almost 4 years. (Contd) Image
Standing #InSolidarity with a brave survivor. #MeToo #Avalkoppam Image
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Risk-taking #Malayalam cinema has got gr8 audience support in #Kerala in recent yrs. Streaming sites are taking it to audiences outside Kerala who were earlier deterred by poor show timings at theatres,theatres skipping subs etc. This is democratisation we must fight to preserve.
"The Kumbalangi Nights Phenomenon: One small step for Mollywood, a giant leap for Indian cinema" - I wrote this for @firstpost in 2019 on the confluence of changing circumstances that allowed a #KumbalangiNights to become a pan-India hit. Do read ICYMI…
(Cont'd) The lesson: next time a producer/distributor/exhibitor/newspaper editor says, "only Mallus watch Malayalam cinema", "Hindi belt wallahs will not see Tamil/Telugu films", "Dalit/LGBT/women-centric films have a limited audience" etc, call them out on their bullshit.(Contd)
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