Between the Headlines by Shweta Ganesh Kumar
For some other review that I am yet to post I had written that there is this breed of first generation professionals that at some point in time gets disillusioned by the profession that they were in awe. Till the time they actually got into it. It is a journey from dreams to reality. It is feeling the heat when the rubber meets the tar. I can’t say that dreams are shattered. But the reality is quite far away from dreams. In reality, you see things that you had not even imagined in your farthest dreams. Like people whom you hero-worshipped actually being just another human with their weaknesses and weak moments. Between the Headlines is one more such book.
Protagonist’s journey is very similar to the journey of the author. Including the cities she lived and worked in, to her actually giving up the career in media. The story may be a fiction. But it is coming straight out of the author’s own experience. Her attempt to show the world how difficult a reporter’s job is. She wants to tell that while they appear standing calmly behind a visual, but a lot goes in the background to get that perfect shot. She wants to bring focus to the 24 X 7 nature of the job. And how stressful it is, leaving no time for personal life. I guess most professionals in today’s consumerist world are sailing in the same boat. It is just that they can see only their boat. Finally, she quits the dream job to be a part of an NGO.
If the sequel of the book focuses on the disillusionment in the NGO sector, it would be one interesting journey of dream vs. reality.
At a writing level, it is an average book. The author could have focused on things other than just the protagonist. Especially since she is telling the story in the third person. There are not many books that take Bangalore as a backdrop. She had this brilliant opportunity to give Bangalore a character. Or even Karnataka through the journeys of the protagonist. The romantic angle was there only because it should be there. And a story of a young girl can not be complete without it. But that has been also out as a very dry element, the intimacy completely missing. Making it look more like a love story to suit the professional needs. The character seems to exist in isolation. No relationship with colleagues, family, friends.
And unfortunately, such characters are actually there in big cities today. And the tribe is growing. Even Social Media that keeps people sane in their solitary existences plays a character role only.
It does give you some insights into behind the camera scenes in a news channel. Though I think from a reporter’s point of view only. There are many pushes and pulls that a channel owner or an editor has to deal with. Many pressures, many conundrums and many dilemmas – all that has been overlooked. Even the bureau office chosen is so small and insignificant from the national news perspective that there is not much space for the author to deep dive.
Between the Headlines is a simple linear story based on the first-hand experience of the author, in a way a fictionalized biography. Read it if you are in a mood for some light, fast paced read.