Shashi Kapoor starrer ‘New Delhi Times’ shows the pitfalls of investigative journalism

Shashi Kapoor won the National Film Award for Best Actor for his role in New Delhi Times.
Shashi Kapoor won the National Film Award for Best Actor for his role in New Delhi Times.

The Hindi film industry is known to produce commercial movies but when it comes to some thought-provoking movies, the list is not too long. There are some beautifully-written films, which deserve appreciation from the audience. One such film which is remembered as one of the best films ever made on journalism is Shashi Kapoor’s ‘New Delhi Times’. The movie not only shows the true picture of investigative journalism but also tells how politicians use journalists as a tool to fulfill their larger political ambitions. 

The plot of New Delhi Times revolves around a journalist named Vikas Pandey (Shashi Kapoor), who is the executive editor of a newspaper ‘New Delhi Times’.

The story begins with Vikas’s decision to investigate a communal riot that he witnesses during a trip to his hometown Ghazipur. The probe takes him to further investigate the connection between a case of a murder and the relation of the murder with two politicians – Ajit Singh (Om Puri) and Trivedi, who is the chief minister (CM) of the state. When Vikas is convinced that Singh is behind the riots and the murder, he decides to expose him by writing stories against him in his newspaper. It doesn’t go well with Singh, who in turn threats and pressurises the owner of New Delhi Times.

However, unperturbed by the threats, Vikas continues his expose, thereby drawing the ire of Singh and his goons, who assault him and his wife Nisha (played by Sharmila Tagore). The attacks make Vikas even more determined and this time he directly attacks Singh through his article.

The plot thickens when Vikas’s article is held back by his publisher and he threatens to resign if the article is not published. The climax is even more gripping, as the story takes a U-turn to end all the mysteries.

Big Lessons

The movie explains how a journalist can be used by the politicians and also highlights the nexus between the politicians and journalists. A major takeaway for the journos is that you should never decide in your mind about who is guilty and who is innocent. The  best thing about the movie was the way it shows how a journalist chases a story through which he/she can make or break anyone’s image.

The movie was the directorial debut of Ramesh Sharma for which he won the national award. The movie was written by Gulzar. Shashi Kapoor as Vikas Pandey, Sharmila Tagore as Nisha, Om Puri as Ajit Singh and Kulbhushan Kharbanda as J.K have given powerful performances. The dialogues such as ‘Divide and Rule angrezo ka formula nahi tha, Ek system ka formula hai. Hukumat ka formula hai’ (Divide and rule wasn’t the British formula, It is a system’s formula, a formula of rulers) by Vikas’s father on the Ghazipur communal riots is worth a mention.

Similarly, when the publisher refuses to publish Vikas’s story and says, “Main logo ko batana chahta hoon ki jab jab hamare mulk me dange fasaad hote hain unke peechhe kisi badi shaksiyat ya political party ka haath hota hai’ (I want to tell the people of this country, whenever any riot happens in the country then there is always a big political party’s hand behind it) depicts the views of the common man.

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