It was a balmy Delhi evening. Lilting music filled the air, “the Khan Market cabal” gathered around. Magician-like, the CNN News18 anchor waved his arm to produce a knife out of nowhere. “Happy birthday Prime Minister!”, he trilled – loud enough for Modi to hear him far away in Gujarat – and then the knife was plunged into the very heart of the soft, white sponge cake.
Thus did Bhupendra Chaubey made a cake of himself and eat it too.
#KhanMarketViewpoint – ‘Khan Market Cabal’ celebrates the PM’s birthday.
— News18 (@CNNnews18) September 17, 2019
Would Navika Kumar (Times Now), Arnab Goswami (Republic TV) or Gaurav Sawant (India Today) now cake-bake? No, they wanted ‘Hug and Handshake’ instead, in Houston (Times Now).
Modi @ 69
This Thursday, nothing – not Pakistan PM Imran Khan’s nukes (India TV), not “700 terrorists” at the LoC (CNN News18) – can dim the afterglow of happiness that still envelopes us.
All because of that ‘mahanayak’ (Zee News) who has warmed each and every Indian, with the sunshine of his 69th birthday.
The Prime Minister celebrated ‘Modi @ 69’ in Gujarat Tuesday, said 60-year-old Doordarshan; so did the “entire nation”, added News X. But none, we wager, more handsomely than the news channels: in one voice—but in many languages—they sang out, “Happy Birthday Modi”, “Happy Birthday PM”.
Those three little words bounced from channel to channel until the day-long greetings rang out across continents. News India said Modi’s birthday had been celebrated not only in India but throughout the world—we saw a group of foreign women crooning “Happy Birthday Modi” (News India) somewhere out there in wide, wide world.
— India TV (@indiatvnews) September 17, 2019
Back home, it was party time, folks, hosted by most channels but especially the Hindi ones and of course by DD News, where the anchor ensured he was invited to the right party by wearing the same colour waistcoat as Modi.
The birthday was a gala event. India Today called it, a “Made-for-TV celebration”; “Modi’s milestones in 69 eventful years” said CNN News18, which unfolded in snapshots from the album of his life—or, as News Nation put it, “Narendra se NaMo tak”.
Side by side, his “eventful’’ birthday spooled out on video.
All news channels followed in the PM’s footsteps as he visited different parts of the state. Aaj Tak, for instance, caught up with him at the Narmada where he stopped for puja – “Narmada ne bulaya toh kheench aye Modi’’—, the Butterfly park and the Cactus Park where he “admired each and every cactus” before posing in the foreground of the Statue of Unity and delivering a speech on Sardar Patel’s dreams of “Ek Bharat”.
— आज तक (@aajtak) September 18, 2019
India TV held an immediate, emergency panel discussion on the message and the meaning of the moment.
And then it was time for the matinee show: “Ma, Matrubhoomi aur Modi” (Zee News) featured the PM’s visit to his mother. “Ma, Meri Ma” observed Republic Bharat’s headline almost spilling over with tears.
“Ma ka haath ka khaana khaya”, “Aashirwad liya”, said Aaj Tak, “Heartwarming”, said its sister channel, India Today. “Sumptuous lunch”, commented India Ahead News, as though it had tasted “ma ka haath ka khaana”.
By then it was past 3 pm and viewers had almost had their fill, but what of dessert? Ladoos, cakes weighing hundreds of kilos (India Today) were next on the menu as the BJP distributed sweets to celebrate Modi celebrating 69 years (News India).
Which brings us back to Bhupendra Chaubey’s cake cutting ceremony at Delhi’s much-reviled Khan Market (CNN News18). A few party poopers refused to celebrate—not until people like Chinmayanand were arrested, said women’s rights activist Yogita Bhayana. “She is not the only one who thinks we have no reason to celebrate…” stated Chaubey, reminding viewers that the icing on the cake hid the PM’s twin challenges – that of lynchings and caste.
He mentioned the Tabrez Ansari case, the incident of a Dalit MP not allowed to enter a village and the murder of a Dalit boy.
Before things turned sour, Zee News returned to Modi and his “fitness mantra”. We witnessed him doing yoga and then pointing out in an old speech that there is no “elevator to success…you have to take the stairs”.
That left News18 India to speculate on who Modi might have been if he hadn’t been who he is. Any guesses?
Take a look at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘rockstar avatar’ #InDepth
— India Today (@IndiaToday) September 17, 2019
As the festivities wound up, Zee News welcomed a late-comer /gatecrasher: a Pakistani. Not a surprise since Zee News is invariably running after them. However, this wasn’t just any Pakistani, it was a Pakistani ‘kabootar’ – caught at the border and sent to the veterinary hospital where they discovered it had a “phone number”.
Could it be Imran Khan’s? Had he sent it to Narendra Modi on his birthday as a peace offering?
Picture abhi baaki hai… watch the next instalment on Zee News.
Still hungry? Watch Masterchef Australia (Star World) that has returned for Season 11. Savour it, viewers, since this will be the last time Gary Mehigan, George Calombaris and Matt Preston will taste and test the food as judges.