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The Broken News review: Sonali Bendre, Jaideep Ahlawat and Shriya Pilgaonkar present a gripping tale of media war

The Zee5 newsroom drama by Vinay Waikul shows the ferocious power game between two media houses Awaaz Bharati and Josh24/7

  • Shamayita Chakraborty

Last Updated: 12.53 PM, Jun 11, 2022

The Broken News review: Sonali Bendre, Jaideep Ahlawat and Shriya Pilgaonkar present a gripping tale of media war
Sonali Bendre and Shriya Pilgaonkar in a still from The Broken News

Story: Amina Qureshi (Sonali Bendre) of Awaaz Bharati has a strong team of brave journalists, with Radha Bhargav (Shriya Pilgaonkar) leading from the front. Their aim is to present real stories to people. In contrast, Dipankar Sanyal’s (Jaideep Ahlawat) Josh24/7 is all about TRPs and sensationalisation, and more often than not, that goes beyond journalist ethics. With money, power and politics in play, the newsroom drama becomes a thriller. Each of the eight episodes of 40 minutes explores the backstories and other shades of the characters.

Review: Here, the issue is an old debate which however is relevant to today’s media industry. Who benefits from the daily news after all? The reporters or the public? The money-making channel owners-cum-businessmen or the advertisers? Or is it all about the nexus between the politicians and corporate houses that decides what to go one air and what to be kept under lock and key, in other words, under gag orders? Zee5’s riveting newsroom drama The Broken News is all about the clash between bringing out the truth and suppressing it.

As is evident, the Indian news space is an arena of cutthroat competition among news channels. They race to outwit each other to write the most involving story. This ferocious struggle to attract the largest audience has led to an increasing display of video footage of catastrophic and sensational events. Like entertainment, sensationalising the news sells and news has become stories.

The first episode opens with Radha’s press meeting in which she says, ‘Going against the government is not equivalent to going against the country. I am not an anti-national (Deshdrohi),’ before she was taken into custody. The rest of the episodes reveal the reason for the arrest.

Radha’s roommate and another journalist Julia Alvares dies in a fire incident at a mall. While the police report it as an accident, Radha senses foul play. The real story gets cooked in the two newsrooms of Josh24/7 which dominates TRPs with more drama than facts, and Awaaz Bharati, which suffers from a feeble TRP, and resultantly, fewer advertisers. Competent journalists of both the newsrooms start chasing a tip-off of ‘Operation Umbrella’ – a sinister plan of corporate-government nexus through which big brother watches you.

Vinay Waikul (maker of Netflix’s Aranyak) adapted and directed The Broken News from BBC’s 2018 television drama, Press, by Mike Bartlett. The acting department is a treat to watch in this series. The script naturally favours the character Dipankar Sanyal with solid dialogues and murky backstories, and Jaideep Ahlawat leaves no stone to score a ton with his performance. In her prime time, Sonali Bendre was often perceived as a prop in the name of a heroine, with very little smartness to offer. As Amina Quereshi, editor-in-chief and news anchor of Awaaz Bharati, she offers a very convincing performance. Amina is an idealist leader, a vulnerable girlfriend and a horrible negotiator, and Sonali Bendre fits the character to the T. Meanwhile, the show largely focuses on Shriya Pilgaonar’s portrayal of Radha as a brave journalist. Like Dipankar Sanyal, Radha’s life revolves around the newsroom. While they are certainly similar in their aggression, Radha has empathy and a strong sense of journalistic ethics. Shriya brings out the charm and resilience, empathy and bravery of Radha effortlessly.

Verdict: The series is dotted with stereotypes and cliches attached to newsrooms. Sadly, there are elements of truth behind many of these cliches. Radha tells her colleague, ‘You can either be a good reporter or have a good life. You have to decide which one you want’, and this resonates with reality too closely. One cannot avoid the real-life similarities with the characters on screen. In a tribute to All The President's Men, the sources and the tip-off transactions take place at the basement parking lot of the building. Like most newsroom drama, The Broken News is riveting, thrilling, and definitely not to be missed.