Barkha’s LAKSHYA!

It takes Karan 24 years and 18,000 feet to find himself!

That’s the crux of Lakshya. Written by Javed Akhtar and directed by Farhan Akhtar, this 2004 film was a huge success. For one it told the story of an aimless young man who goes to join the forces and redeem his years of callousness.

Anyways, I a not here to write a post film review of the film, more than four years after its release. But the reason of writing this is because I happened to watch the film again yesterday. This time I watched it for Romila Dutt played by Preity ZInta. Everyone know that the character was based on NDTV’s Barkha Dutt. Her reportage at the Kargil War in 1999 was a definite landmark in the field of television journalism. NDTV had recently moved from its production house avtaar and gained an identity as a news channel. India was still soaking in the pleasures of a 24*7 English News Channel. Quite aptly named NDTV catapulted its presence in the homes of its viewers by the marvellous coverage of the war. For the first time after the Iraq War in the early 90’s, was war a household visual and therefore, a topic of discussion. And the person for whom the rugged terrain of the Drass sector turned into verdant plains was none other than Barkha Dutt. Barkha became a household name instantly…a journalist with the greatest courage ever and most importantly a role model for several other journalists in the years that followed!

Now, here is the story behind how Barkha went about covering the Kargil War.

Maroof Raza an ex-General in the Indian Army has been with NDTV since its production house days. When the Kargil War was in its infancy, Dr Roy had approached Maroof asking him to be consultant on board. After all, he needed a face that was credible! And his credibility had been put to test when he gave facts on air which were precise. Of course he had the inside information about the position of the Pakistan Army and could therefore give out accurate details. As the situation up on the icy hills was hotting up, Dr Roy asked Maroof to stay prepared for a trip to Kargil. It was also the time when Maroof was engaged with a foreign university. On hearing reports of the possibility of his going to the disputed region, they panicked! This is when Barkha packed her bags and went to Kargil…the rest as we know is history!

Barkha’s reporting was of course controversial. For one, she revealed crucial position of the Indian Army. What she considered as ‘Exclusive’ was actually what went against the army. Vikram Batra’s famous quote ‘Yeh Dil Mange More’ was latched on to by the Pak army, and the next thing we know that his bunker is targetted.

Despite the controversies behind Barkha’s reporting, the coverage of the Kargil War was the most defining moment in her career. It catapulted her as a fearless journalist in the eyes of her viewers. When I was toying with the idea of journalism, lots of my relatives encouraged me by saying that I must become Barkha Dutt. Somehow I couldn’t imagine being another person. The whole thought of modeling my career on an existing journalist was in not appealing! News never gave me the high…and all I wanted to do was to establish myself as television producer! And that was what I have done…I produce half hour special features and documentaries for yet another English News Channel!


(This is an old post imported from an old blog)


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