Monday, 17 December 2012

Burying the Bizarre

How cruel can you get, Delhi? screamed the headline of the lead story in Sunday’s HT City, the colour supplement on happenings in the Capital. The story was about how crass Delhi-ites now showcase live installations at weddings. An `Ice Man’ dressed only in a dhoti and fake ornaments on his torso who stands on ice for hours greeting guests and having money thrown at him. Young girls becoming human bars with their skirts doubling as tables. Human fountains, with the fountains attached to the headgear of girls who have to stand still for hours.  It was a disturbing peak into a depraved Delhi.
But should this story have been buried in HT City? Shouldn’t this have made it to the front page of the main paper, to highlight the depths to which Delhi has sunk? Why is it less horrific than the story of gang rapes that regularly make it to the front pages?
There is a clear human interest angle in the story – a man dances on ice for six hours and gets paid a measly Rs 1500. Girls who double up as live bars complain of being groped. If the desperation of a tribal woman who sells her child for food can make it the front pages, why can’t the story of these people? Surely it must be a pressing need for money that pushes them to this work?
Or – and I do hope I am wrong on this count – is the placement in HT City a kind of promotion of such fads, with the heading only serving to have a reverse psychology kind of effect? After all, it is well known that these colour supplements have a large promotional element in them.

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