I had told you how Bollywood PRs control a large group of journalists who in turn are too willing to be dominated. PRs have a magic key which opens up access to a star for an interview. And there’s always a pressure on an entertainment reporter to get the star to talk.
I have had my fair share of experiences in chasing star interviews. Here, I will reproduce some of the conversations I have had with PRs while doing my job. Each of these conversations ended up with a loss of a very dear friend, a PR.
I don’t know how many journalists have had similar conversations but I will advise them not to follow the below-mentioned examples.
These are examples of how not to have a conversation with a Bollywood PR.
Conversation number one:
I trusted you. How dare you betray me like that?
What did I do?
I had told you that you should not talk anything about her relationship status? Didn’t I tell you that?
Err…Err… I forgot. The questions just flowed one after another.
Don’t lie to me. I had told you 100 times not to ask that question and you forget that? How dare you?
Okay. Okay. I am sorry I forgot. Maaf kar do, yaar.
Thik Hai. Now you must ensure that the boyfriend question does not feature in the interview.
But…how can I do that? She gave me an answer to the question…
I don’t care… just don’t mention the question.
No. I cannot do that.
If you cannot do that, she (Ms Superstar) will never talk to you again. Remember your senior colleague was after this interview for at least a week but I trusted you with the interview as I thought that you’d do a better job. If you don’t do what I say, we will deny that your interview ever took place. I need your word right now. As in now (screams at the top of her voice).
I am sorry.
(The interview never saw light of the day. I also lost a ‘dear’ friend)
Conversation number 2:
We have been friends for so long and you didn’t even tell me that you are doing a story?
But… I got a proper quote na? That quote actually confirmed my story and my editor felt it was enough. I didn’t need your star’s quote for that article.
That doesn’t matter, when it is about a star you should always get in touch with us because we are her spokespersons.
But what’s the use, you will always issue a denial to the story even if it’s true.
That doesn’t matter, we should get the opportunity of issuing a denial.
But why let you issue a denial when I know whatever I am writing, is right?
Okay, tomorrow you will find the denial everywhere else. Then sit and decide which is right and which is wrong.
But that is so wrong. It is such a lie!
Don’t call me tomorrow when there’s a denial everywhere. You will look like a fool tomorrow.
(Phone call is snapped and the friendship too)
Conversation number 3:
Why did you text her (star)?
Because I know her…
Don’t lie. You don’t know her at all. It was me who introduced the two of you. She actually thought that it was me who had asked you to message her.
Let it be now, we have already texted each other. She has given me a quote.
No, you cannot write anything now. Speak to her now and she will give you a correct version.
But I have already got the correct version. The text is enough for me. I just needed a quote.
How does it matter? Listen, she decided to change her stance now. You either write what she is saying now or else we will issue a denial everywhere. You will find a denial on Twitter, Facebook and at least 20 Bollywood websites tomorrow. You don’t have a choice.
(I am forced to drop the story and another childhood friend)
Conversation number 4:
Hey honey how are you?
I am fine. You?
I am rocking sweets. Achha listen na baba?
My actor is having an exclusive terrace party at his house tomorrow night. We were thinking of inviting you there and get an exclusive interview done. But you need to write about his film for at least one paragraph. You can do it na honey?
I am not allowed to write about upcoming films. Free mein publicity ho jayega na? I can talk about the star and his relationships.
That everybody will do, sweets. if I pitch the story to Ms K, she will give me a better space and display. But I am still coming to you. You only need to mention the film twice in your article and devote just one paragraph to it. I am not asking for much, hai na dear?
But I am not allowed to write interviews like that…
I am so sorry. I am sure you will understand. You don’t mind if I pitch the interview to somebody else?
No, No. Please go ahead.
(I never got invites for parties from that PR again. She later chose to delete me from her BBM friends list too)
Conversation number 5:
So, have you finished the interview?
Yes, I have submitted it but I can’t tell you when it will be published.
(Insisting) Will it come out tomorrow?
Can’t say now, I don’t know what my editor has decided.
Are you kidding me? The edition will be released in two hours and you don’t know whether the story is going or not?
Actually It’s unethical to tell you when it is going to be published. My editor won’t like this.
Listen, I just want to know the headline that your editor has given and how it is placed on tomorrow’s page. I am just ensuring that it has been given proper space. I am answerable to my client, na? You should understand my situation.
Don’t worry. You need to trust us. We will do a good job.
I can trust you but I need to know how the interview is going to appear.
I cannot say that.
I won’t be able to work with you like this, neither will he (Bollywood superstar). He needs to be informed about how he is placed on the page. He also needs to know who else is on the page. This request is perfectly ethical. What is your problem?
I won’t be able to give you stories anymore, I am sure you will understand.
(And there was ever-lasting silence between the PR and me. We have never spoken after that conversation)
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