An Investigation: Do Indian Journalists Really Wear as Much FabIndia as Vikrant Massey in Chhapaak?

Fashion

An Investigation: Do Indian Journalists Really Wear as Much FabIndia as Vikrant Massey in Chhapaak?

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

If there is one thing that Hindi cinema has gotten down pat, it’s in accurately capturing the universally acknowledged fact that Indian journalists can be whiny. According to Bollywood, patrakaars are people who vehemently believe that having close to zero work ethic is a substitute for a personality and are adept at making it seem as if they’re doing a lot while doing nothing at all. Look, I can’t argue with this description given that this is exactly how I describe “nationalist” TV journos to anyone who doesn’t know them.

Last week, there was another addition to the Bollywood journalist starter pack. According to Meghna Gulzar’s Chhapaak, inspired by the life of acid attack survivor Laxmi Agarwal, Indian journalists wear too many FabIndia kurtas. In the film, Vikrant Massey plays Amol, a grumpy journalist turned activist (which let’s face it, is the journalistic version of a gap year) and behaves like someone who looks down on everyone who reads The New Yorker on incognito mode.

Vikrant_Massey

In the film, Vikrant Massey plays Amol, a grumpy journalist turned activist and behaves like someone who looks down on everyone who reads The New Yorker on incognito mode.

Fox Star Studios

Like any self-respecting, cynical journalist who is convinced that only they can save the world but are too lazy to actually do it, he doesn’t earn much. He confesses that since he has taken up activism he hasn’t had the money to purchase even a single kurta.

Except, there’s a catch. Amol’s wardrobe speaks fluent FabIndia. Throughout Chhapaak, he is dressed in a collection of kurtas, kurta shirts, and printed shirts that are straight off the FabIndia rack. That navy blue short kurta with a white rangoli pattern running all over it? Check. That mustard shirt that looks like it was a dupatta in its past life? Check. And, I hope you’re sitting down for this because this is huge: He’s also wearing a polka shirt that looks like it was overpriced even during a sale. Massey has basically worn more prints in the film than the number of print journalists in the country today.

Do Indian journalists really wear as much FabIndia as Chhapaak thinks they do?

I’m not one to nitpick, but for a breed of people who often get paid in “exposure,” instead of actual money, this is an allegation we can’t take lying down, despite our favourable stance on procrastination. So in honour of my unused journalism degree, I decided to embark on an investigation: Do Indian journalists really wear as much FabIndia as Chhapaak thinks they do?

I started off my investigation at the sacred spot of “I wish I could buy this but my bank account laughed at my face”, aka FabIndia, to check first-hand whether any of the people shopping inside were journalists. I usually don’t talk about my struggles publicly so you, dear reader, might not be aware of this, but I happen to work five minutes away from a FabIndia store. It’s beautiful and torturous. Anyway, I digress. A quick scan inside the pleasant-smelling paradise was enough for me to conclude that none of the people inside had any idea about either the sacred five Ws or the one H. Each of the shoppers had an inexplicable smile plastered on their faces for far too long, which is a clear indication that they have never set foot inside a newsroom.

Chhapaak

Throughout Chhapaak, Amol is dressed in a collection of kurtas, kurta shirts, and printed shirts that are straight off the FabIndia rack.

Fox Star Studios

Then, I gathered my friends, colleagues, and countrymen still stuck in the trenches of journalism and showed them a video of a track from Chhapaak that featured Massey serving looks as if it was Patrakar Fashion Week. In what came as a surprise to no one, they were all dressed in black T-shirts and jeans, like they’ve been for the last 365 days. I thought I had my answer as I watched their eyes widen in horror as the video unfolded. Some of them dispersed speechless, while some of them had a few questions. “Did he buy these clothes on EMI?”, “Does he not have a deadline to miss?” “How does he have the time to fall in love when the country is going to the dogs?”. 

But I suppose, the precise moment when I decided to conclude my investigation came when a reporter friend dubbed Massey’s FabIndia wardrobe “fake news” (said friend was wearing a t-shirt with holes and chappals). There’s no better answer to the question than that. But then, he took a pause, thought for a moment, and went, “Wait a second, maybe he got an appraisal?” Because truth be told, we journalists shop at FabIndia as often as Modi ji gives interviews – maybe once a year.

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