Television

"Just wait and watch there are many more in the pipeline" : Rajat Sharma- TV editor-in-chief

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Indiantelevision.com's Seema Pherwani spoke to India TV editor-in-chief Rajat Sharma, in the eye of a controversy following the series of 'sting operations' his channel has conducted that has already accounted for two scalps in Bollywood baddie Shakti Kapoor and television superstar Aman Verma.

Though difficult to pin down, the man who is known to have put many in the hot seat maintains that the exercise was not a ploy to garner eyeballs and reveals that there is lots more of the same in the pipeline.

Why and how was this whole operation planned?

We had planned it months ago. The idea was to expose the 'casting couch syndrome' which is a big menace in the film industry. No one has had the guts to get up and say it. Even the film industry is not ready to own up to the exploitation in it. So, we decided to conduct the operation. Parents of girls coming in from small towns to Mumbai can now tell their girls to be more careful.

The way the sting operation has been conducted has been criticised across the media. Many say it was a real trap and its all about invading someone's privacy.

Shakti Kapoor represents the film fraternity. And how else do you expose a thing like this. If you're talking of invading someone's privacy then all such deals often happen in closed and private places.

But surely there are other ways of exposing issues?

There is no other way of exposing an issue like this. As journalists we have to take certain risks. And a sting operation is all about laying a trap to expose the muck. And this is not the first one. There have been other operations in the past like. There have been other sting operations till date - like the sadhus doing misdeeds and scandal of Bihar politicians. This was the only say to expose the whole thing.

But why blow up an issue like the casting couch? Aren't there are other important issues around us?

Because it affects millions of aspiring youngsters who came to Mumbai with stars in their eyes. They fall prey to people in the industry who promise them roles at the cost of being exploited. So, they need to know the reality. The response has been overwhelming. I've received more 74,000 sms from parents, 22,000 emails and more than 1 lakh (100,000) people responded through the DTH service.

But what message are we conveying to the parents of women journalists? How far can a woman go out to get a story? Things could have gone out of hand.

No, it could not have gone out of hand, because the journalist conducted herself in a rather dignified way. She has done a phenomenal job. She is daring and we are proud of her. It's because of her that we've been able to expose the muck in the entertainment world.

That doesn't answer my question, how far can we go to get a scoop? The reporter did not reveal her identity.

A sting operation is a trap so obviously she cannot reveal her identity.

"The journalist has done a phenomenal job. She is daring and we are proud of her. It's because of her that we've been able to expose the muck in the entertainment world"

Isn't it just a marketing gimmick to garner eyeballs and get viewer recall?

We are already reaching out to more than 30 million households. So, we don't need to try any gimmicks to get ahead of the game. People who are jealous of our success in the media and other television channels can continue to say this.

People say you've used wine and women to make Shakti Kapoor blabber.

It was Shakti Kapoor who kept calling her late at night. It was he who came to the hotel room. And although he was supposed to come in to the hotel room at about 7:30 pm he kept delaying it. Our undercover journalists were there in the lobby and keeping a watch on him. So, he was waiting for it to be late night. If you see the tape carefully it was he who came in and asked for a drink and started saying things like I want to kiss you etc, etc.

But why trap someone like Shakti Kapoor, who's not even a producer?

How do you know that we don't have more names? Just wait and watch there are many more in the pipeline. For me India TV is a mission and not just a news channel.

But now people will be scared of talking to India TV?

We are not here to scare anyone.
Critics say the Tehelka sting operation was justified as it was all about exposing corruption at the higher levels.

Tehelka was a website and later used another channel to air the operation. So, there is no comparison between the two cases.
India TV is in for a long haul as Shakti Kapoor plans to sue you.

He can go ahead and sue us. In any case he doesn't have too much of a strong case. If we show the entire tape it will only embarrass him further.

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