Prasoon Joshi, lyricist, screenwriter, poet and marketing professional, on Thursday found himself at the receiving end of both bouquets and brickbats. Now also the chairman of CBFC (Central Board of Film Certification), he interviewed Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a Westminster Townhall on Wednesday evening, earning praise from Modi supporters for being ‘sensitive’ and criticism from Modi baiters for being far too ‘soft’.
Joshi of course was part of Narendra Modi’s election campaign and had coined slogans for him. He had also openly supported Demonetisation.
In the two-hour long conversation, aimed ironically at his constituency in India, Prime Minister Modi said all the right things, aided in no small measure by Joshi’s leading questions. Among other things, he said:
While Modi ‘Bhakts’ felt that Indian journalists and TV anchors should learn from Joshi how to interview the Prime Minister, his detractors seemed to think that Joshi’s performance was cringing and a textbook case of how not to conduct an interview with any sitting Prime Minister.
To enable readers to make up their mind, here is a list of questions Joshi asked the Prime Minister:
1. Your journey started from a railway station and now you are a special guest in the Royal Palace, how do you see this journey, Modi ji?
2. The person you are and the PM who represents India, do these two identities get mixed up when you are at a place like the Royal Palace?
3. Let’s keep people’s impatience aside, do you get impatient with the pace at which the government works, do you get irritated when things don’t run at the pace which Modi ji wants?
4. You were talking about bravery and the army; even after so many sacrifices by the army, we see people indulging in politics over it. People even go to the extent of questioning the army’s bravery, how do you see it ?
5. Modi ji the government has been paying attention to smaller but significant issues. For the first time, you talked about toilets while delivering a speech from the Red Fort. Priorities have changed for the country, how are you able to do it, how have these issues come to the forefront?
6. Policies are made by each government, how are your policies different? What is Modi’s policy of governance?
7. Modi ji, when you talk about schemes and people, it is clearly visible how you are involved in the nitty-gritty of it. Do you think people realise how much work is being done and are these developments reaching to them?
8. There is no doubt that people have a lot of expectations from you. It is also quite visible that you don’t want anything for yourself, you have qualities of an ascetic (fakir), Where have you acquired these qualities from? Were you always like this or did this happen gradually?
9. Now let’s talk about the future. What role of India do you see in the new world order?
10.How do you decide that you have to pay attention to a particular criticism and ignore the others?
11. Finally, how do you want History to remember you?