‘The Broken News’ Season 2 series review: An incisive X-ray of the news business

A still from ‘The Broken News’ 

Streaming at a time when the dance of democracy has lost some of its vibrancy, the second season of The Broken News explores the waning credibility of electronic news and digital media.

An adaptation of the BBC series Press, writer Sambit Mishra has efficiently turned the lens towards Indian newsrooms to tell the audience the five Ws and one H of the business of news through a multi-camera setup, presenting a wholesome picture.

Anything related to news should be served fresh, so the makers have picked trending headlines including electoral bonds to portray both sides of the story – the liberal view and the nationalist stance of news reporting.

In the first season, there was a clear demarcation between the two sets. The Ameena Qureshi (Sonali Bendre)-led Awaaz Bharti reflected the old school journalism where striking a balance between competing ideas is the key and the new TRP-led frenetic news model presented by Dipankar Sanyal (Jaideep Ahlawat) in Josh 24X7 which positioned itself as the nationalist channel.

By the end of the first season, Josh had deliberately pushed Ameena’s protege and ace reporter Radha Bhargav (Shriya Pilgaonkar) into the anti-national corner. The intrepid journalist makes it personal and in a bid to eke revenge from the ‘system’ becomes a mirror image of Dipankar. Intoxicated on the instant likes and reels, bereft of context, offered by digital media, she loses her sense of fair journalism and becomes a tool of propaganda in the hands of the political rivals of the reigning dispensation.

‘The Broken News’ Season 2 (Hindi)

Director: Vinay Waikul

Cast: Sonali Bendre, Jaideep Ahlawat, Shriya Pilgaonkar

Episodes: 8

Run-time: 35-45 minutes

Storyline: Rival journalists compete in the shifting landscape of Indian electronic news

Dipankar, on the other hand, gradually realises that he has unleashed a cacophonic monster by giving a nationalist angle to every story that threatens to show the government in a poor light. It is an interesting journey of two individuals whose professionalism gets tainted because they use the news to settle personal scores and feed a burgeoning ego.

In between, Ameena continues to be the lone but strong voice of reason and non-partisan journalism despite the audience’s growing interest in clickbait headlines. In this three-cornered interest, director Vinay Waikul makes potent comments on the news architecture where star anchors have cut off their ties with ground reporting, where journalistic rigour has given way to instant sensationalism, and fact check is seen as unnecessary labour.

Sonali Bendre as Ameena Qureshi

Sonali Bendre as Ameena Qureshi

More importantly, the series doesn’t shy away from discussing the elephant in the newsroom – the corporate owner whose business interests and urge for political patronage often scuttle the quest for the truth.

Driven by compelling drama and convincing performances by Jaideep, Sonali and Shriya, Mishra provides every character a brief backstory, a little whim or psychological complex that gives the sanctimonious newsrooms an emotional heft. This also makes the side characters come alive and integrate with the larger narrative arc.

In a bid to show that both ideological groups have a glass habitat to protect, there are passages where it feels like the makers are bending backward to take heat off the present regime in the election season. For instance, the way the series pushes a counter-narrative to the lack of transparency in the electoral bonds to corner the opposition, gives an impression that it is falling prey to the same rot, the same agenda management that it is pontificating against. Well, as Marshall McLuhan famously said, the medium is the message, and the OTT platform is the latest influencer.

The Broken News Season 2 is currently streaming on ZEE5

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