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Destiny has been very kind to me: Veteran broadcaster Shammi Narang

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Shammi Narang

New Delhi, Oct 27 : He’s always believed in destiny and its been very kind to him, says veteran broadcaster, voice-over maestro, compere and entrepreneur Shammi Narang.

Once the face of Hindi news on Doordarshan, Narang’s voice today guides you on your Metro journey in the national capital and in five other cities. The 40-year veteran of the profession laments the passing of the good old days when the accent was on perfection but is glad today’s social media generation still remembers him and his contemporaries.

“I’ve always maintained that whatever you may or may not believe in, maintain your faith in destiny. It is quite wonderous where your destiny can take you. My destiny has been very kind to me,” Narang, whose first earning was a princely Rs 200 for voicing two scripts for the VOA in the late 1970s while still studying for an engineering degree, told IANS in an interview.

“I have absolutely no regrets. The almighty has been very kind to me and it feels so good that my pictures and those of my generation are posted on social media with comments like: ‘Yeh the asli newsreaders’ (These were the genuine newsreaders),” added Narang, who today heads the Pindrop Media Group that offers a range of services across the genre.

“Kahan gaye woh din (Where are those bygone days)? We had made a place (for ourselves) in the hearts of our audiences. We were part and parcel of not only your drawing room but even the bedroom. Eight-year-olds and five-year-olds would say we belonged to their family.

“Those were the days when a grandfather and his granddaughter could watch the news together. We were a government media but we reported fairly what was happening (in the world around us). We never glorified the negative. We were not just reading bulletins; we were 100 per cent engaged in emoting with our audience. The stress was on language and pronounciation. It was ensured that we were not being provocative,” Narang said.

It was just the opposite today due to the lure of revenue, he lamented.

“The total accent is on revenue. Do you recall the Surf commercial (of the 1980s – ‘Aakir uski sari meri sari se safed kyon’ (Why is her sari whiter than mine)? I want to overshadow you, to be one up (is the mantra today).

“Unlike in the past, news was presented in a way that it did not provoke the people, Today, TV is instigating the people so much, fanning the flames. Today we want the people to react. What’s happening? This country has gone to the dogs,” Narang maintained.

“I don’t blame the politicians now. It’s the media that is responsible. You are instigating the people so much, fanning the flames (of hated). What is the media up to? India is perhaps the first country where people have demonstrated against the media. Stop it. You are causing too much damage (to society),” a visibly upset Narang added.

Noting that the country’s youth had largely moved away from television news, he said his own son would rather watch channels like Discovery.

“Why do you want to sink into depression, he asks me and my wife when we watch the news on television. Better than this, why don’t you watch a Johnny Lever film (at least it will make you laugh). He says he will get me some apps. I’ll get the headlines and if there’s anything interesting then I can read more. He’s right. He says these *s are ruining the country, Narang continued.

To backtrack a bit, Narang first brush with the microphone was during his fourth year in college when he went into an auditorium under construction in the IIT campus here.

Two Americans from the USIS were installing the sound system and looking around, one of them asked Narang to speak into a microphone. Impressed with his voice, they invited him to the USIS office here where he was given two scripts to read (for which he got Rs 200).

The die was cast and even as his parents insisted he focus on his studies, Narang gradually began reading more scripts for VOA and moved into the world of voicing for commercials. A friend pushed him into answering a Doordarshan advertisement for newsreaders and he found himself in a huge room on the fifth floor of Broadcasting House (the AIR headquarters) bustling with hordes of other aspirants.

The numbers were whittled down to 80 and finally to 25, and Narang made the cut, endorsed by none other than the legendary Devkinandan Pandey, a renowned AIR news presenter of the time.

He required just three days of training thanks to the experience he gained in voicing commercials.

“I mugged up the first para of the bulletin so that I could often look up at the camera,” he explained.

He read his first bulletin in 1982 and remained associated with Doordarshan for 20 years, even as he set up his own studio (he had opted for a contractual rather than a regular job), before moving out with the advent of satellite television.

Unlike generals, broadcasters of Narang’s ilk don’t just fade way. They just go on and on.

(Vishnu Makhijani can be reached at [email protected])

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Jessica Simpson got hooked on to diet pills

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Jessica Simpson

Los Angeles, Jan 25 : Singer Jessica Simpson has revealed she was body shamed to such levels that she was almost pushed to the edge and started hearing voices.

Simpson got hooked on to diet pills at the age of 17 after she was ordered to lose weight by record executive Tommy Mottola.

Simpson dropped to 46.72 kg (103 lbs) after she was told to shed 15 lbs (6.80389 kg) in order to get signed to a record label, she said in excerpts of her new memoir “Open Book”, obtained by People, reports aceshowbiz.com.

On her 17th birthday, Simpson had the chance to sing for Mottola, who at the time was the CEO and chairman of Sony Music Entertainment, parent of the Columbia label, and belted out “Amazing Grace” in a bid to get snapped up and signed to their roster.

Simpson said that “he wanted to sign me”, but he said: “You gotta lose fifteen pounds.”

After questioning his remark, he reportedly told her: “That’s what it takes to be Jessica Simpson.”

She said that at the time she was five-foot-three and weighed 53.5 kg (118 lbs). After the meeting, she “immediately went on a strict diet, and started taking diet pills, which I would do for the next twenty years.”

She said that she also took sleeping pills at this time, noting: “I started hearing voices when I was alone at night, waiting for the sleeping pill to kick in ‘Do more sit-ups, fat a*s.”

She notes she “couldn’t enjoy” her success “because I was so freaking hungry” and said that after she lost weight, the label reportedly told her “show more skin” which sent her on more of a downward spiral.

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Taylor Swift’s father feared for her after Senator episode

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Taylor Swift

Los Angeles, Jan 25 : Taylor Swift’s father Scott Kingsley Swift feared for the singer’s life when she openly spoke out against Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn during the 2018 mid-term elections.

Taylor made it clear she was a LGBTQ- and women’s rights- supporter and a fervent Democrat as she took on Blackburn.

In her new Netflix documentary “Miss Americana”, director Lana Wilson has captured the moment the “Love Story” star told her parents she was getting political, despite warnings from publicists, who feared she would be attacked just like the Dixie Chicks were when they spoke out against President George W. Bush, reports aceshowbiz.com.

Speaking after the world premiere of “Miss Americana” at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah on January 23, Taylor recalled the scene in which she spoke about her plans with her parents and shared her father’s concern.

“My dad has always just been terrified about my safety since I was a kid… The fact that my job entails standing on a stage and there’s so many threats we get on a daily basis that nobody ever knows about and we just try to keep that stuff under wraps as much as possible, but my dad is the one who has to see it,” she said.

She added: “And so for him it was all about, ‘What could happen to you if you say this? If you say this, is my daughter in danger? Is this the moment that I should have stopped it from happening?’ “

“Our political opinions and our opinions are defined by what happens to us in our life… Seeing what was happening in my home state, and it all culminating with having a conversation with people who’ve been so wonderfully supportive of me throughout my entire career, feeling so afraid for my safety…”

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TV actress Sejal Sharma commits suicide

Reports claim the possible reason behind the suicide might be some disturbance in the late actress’ personal life.

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Mumbai, Jan 24 : TV actress Sejal Sharma committed suicide on Friday. She was known for her role of Simmy Khosla in the show “Dil Toh Happy Hai Ji”.

“Yes, this is true. I am shocked to hear the news. It’s very difficult for me to believe as I had met her just 10 days ago and we had even chatted on WhatsApp on Sunday. I am unable to come to terms with the news. I met her 10 days back and she was absolutely fine,” Aru K. Verma, Sejal’s co-star in “Dil Toh Happy Hai Ji”, told TimesofIndia.com.

Verma, who played Sejal’s brother in the show, further told the portal: “Her family discovered the news today morning, but I think she committed suicide yesterday night. Her family has taken the body to Udaipur for her last rites.”

Reports claim the possible reason behind the suicide might be some disturbance in the late actress’ personal life.

Sejal hailed from Udaipur and came to Mumbai in 2017 to try her luck in showbiz. Before her debut on the Star Plus show “Dil Toh Happy Hai Ji”, she appeared in a few commercials. She had also featured in a web series titled “Azad Parindey”.

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