At 10.34 pm on Tuesday, filmmaker-author-Twitter aficionado Vivek Agnihotri took to his platform of choice with a simple proposition: Get bright young people to make a list of people defending so-called ‘Urban Naxals’. Exactly what was to be done with said list remains unclear. Nevertheless, Newslaundry intrepidly attempted to make sense of what an ‘Urban Naxal’ is, who falls in that category and a whole lot more.
We watched all 61 minutes and 38 seconds of Newslaundry co-founder Abhinandan Sekhri’s interrogation and Vivek Agnihotri’s often baffling answers, and came up with seven moments that are entirely Buzzfeed list-worthy (as channeled through Firstpost‘s editorial spectacles, which were obscured by palms held to face pretty much each time Agnihotri spoke):
1) A yuge reveal: “I’m the most democratic person,” said Agnihotri as he kicked things off with a smile. It was most disappointing not to hear him follow it up with a “No one’s more democratic than me. No one. Believe me. No one’s more democratic than me…” and so on.
2) Continuity error #1: “I am sure you have called me here because I am an expert in the subject, so you have to understand what I’m saying,” said Agnihotri shortly after, underlining his credentials to discuss the topics of Maoism, Naxals and ‘Urban Naxals’. It took a shade over nine minutes for him to snap, “Not anywhere in the world have I said I’m an expert in Maoism.”
3) Continuity error #2: A little later on, Agnihotri told Sekhri in no uncertain terms, “I’m not a filmmaker. I’m a storyteller.” We’d almost begun to digest this, when the man reprised his impression of a certain Head of State and said, “I definitely am a filmmaker, I’ll keep making films till my last breath.”
4) No spoilers: “I am so disappointed with journalists that they are not questioning the government (in areas) where they should be questioning,” lamented Agnihotri. Sekhri sought clarity and asked, “Such as?” The stakes were high. Bear in mind, the answer to this question had the potential to flip the entire industry of news-gathering on its head. Exciting times! Unfortunately, the Buddha in a Traffic Jam director doesn’t believe in spoilers and said, “There are lots of areas. But they should be questioning. Because they are so frustrated, because they don’t do proper research, because they have to maintain the cost of production of news.” And it went on like that for a bit.
5) Fact check: “I know what facts are and I know what my audience is. It’s for my audience to tell me what is correct,” said Agnihotri when asked if it could be agreed upon that facts and opinions are different things. By the end of the interview, we were left no surer of whether or not the not-filmmaker/filmmaker-till-last-breath knew the difference between an opinion, a fact and a viewpoint (and, if you watch the interview, which you should, the dissimilarity between a white kurta and a black kurta; see #7 below).
6) SEO-friendly: When asked to explain a pre-2014 tweet targeting then Times Now and present day Republic TV head honcho, Agnihotri calmly replied, “Arnab Goswami is an imagery, he is a keyword”.
7) Alternate ending: Admirably, Sekhri did not appear to know the meaning of the phrase ‘give up’ and sought to once again drive home the definition of ‘facts’ to his interviewee. In attempting to draw a difference between a fact and an opinion, he spoke of the colour of the his kurta. Little did he, or we, know that there was a twist in the making: “Who said facts are facts? This is the biggest scam in the world,” said a visibly anguished Agnihotri. A confounding explanation about colours later, we were told, “Life is not exactly what you see. Some people have gone beyond that!” It is not important that your kurta is white (or not), Sekhri was told, it is the possibility that the heart that it covers is black.