TIFF ’22: While We Watched

Vinay Shukla takes us behind the scenes of Indian news media and journalism as he follows the story of Ravish Kumar of NDTV. He’s dedicated to being an objective news reporter, but in the flare of nationalism and populism being touted by the rest of the news channels, anyone willing to speak out against the government and pursue real stories is branded an anti-nationalist, a traitor.

As the film follows Kumar, from the exciting rush of running down leads, to a seemingly never-ending round of goodbye parties and cake to see laid-off employees on their way, we realize that despite the fact that these events are taking place in India, a few name changes, and we could be looking at media outlets anywhere around the globe.

Journalism is being eschewed by media companies in exchange for populist leanings, likes and ratings. It’s no longer about seeking out the truth and reporting on the things that matter, it’s about who yells the loudest, who can create the most noise and distract people from real and relevant issues like jobs, housing, and rights.

Kumar remains dedicated to his life’s calling even when threats begin coming in against his life. He wrestles with his decisions, and what to do, whether he should continue or leave. But if the majority of those in the fourth estate is not doing what they should be doing, then it makes the fight all the more important.

It’s the job of the press to give voice to the voiceless and to hold governments, corporations and people accountable. They should not be propaganda machines, or entertainment programs playing at being news. They have an obligation to the people, and Kumar brings that to every story, every interview, and every question.

I really enjoyed this one. While We Watched plays one more time at TIFF, tomorrow night at 9:30 at Scotiabank Theatre.

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