This video of senior BJP leader Arun Shourie mimicking Times Now editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami’s style of studio debates has been doing the rounds on Twitter, but it is only one of several about the phenomenon that is Arnab Goswami.
Goswami, among other things, anchors ‘The Newshour’, a daily debate at 9 pm on the news channel, when he brings together between four and eight panellists to shout themselves hoarse at one other on a given topic. Goswami, of course, stars as the voice of the nation (“The nation wants to know!”) and as arbiter of the debate.
As the face of Times Now, he embodies his myth so wholly that the idea of an overblown television debate is inseparable from the idea of Arnab Goswami. As noted by The Caravan, this is a deliberate strategy.
A more populist test of his fame lies in the number of parodies, tributes and spoofs he has spawned online and otherwise. Arnab is to the news media what Rajnikanth is to cinema: an internet sensation. What is viral today is gone tomorrow. The internet is by nature always evolving, but if you follow the trail of ‘Related videos’ on Youtube for long enough, you will inevitably land on an Arnab Goswami spoof.
Goswami is a fertile source for that prolific bunch of internet trolls in search of something to mock. At least in the political arena, videos about Goswami seem to outstrip videos about even the most famous of all those he has interviewed, from Narendra Modi to Rahul Gandhi.
The variety of spoofs and tributes is also staggering. Not for Goswami is the ignominy of being frozen into a photographic meme with a token phrase. While the following videos all draw on his distinct mannerisms and catchphrases, not one of them stylistically resembles another.
1. Arnab remixed, dhin-chak style
This is one of the first of many remix videos of Arnab interviews. It takes off on his grilling of Abhijit Mukherjee, son of President Pranab Mukherjee, for his ill-chosen comments on ‘dented and painted women’ protesting on the streets of Kolkata in December 2012. In true Bollywood style, the video, released three days later, has some snazzy visuals and a dubstep beat.
2. Arnab, 1980s Bollywood style
Arnab publicly castigated BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi in December 2013 for insinuating that he accepted money from lobbyists. The incident, in which he assumed the tone of a particularly stern headmaster, drew a number of responses, including a remix à la the ‘Dented and painted’ one above. This video has a slightly more classic Bollywood take on it.
3. Arnab switches to stage drama
A comedy group, in reaction to the Arnab-Lekhi episode described above, cast the two as housemates. They bicker about paying electricity bills and passing each other juice. The actor playing Meenakshi Lekhi mimics her breathless patter perfectly. Every two minutes, Lekhi says, “I’m a lawyer,” leaving Arnab speechless.
4. Arnab repackaged as an ad
Riffing off Arnab’s reputation, online retailer Flipkart mimicked his style of television debates to pitch their own concept. This advertisement is part of a Flipkart series in which children playing adults are dubbed in adult voices. The company did not mention Goswami’s name once. They didn’t need to.
5. Arnab inspires mindless labour
The creator of this video, KaanMasti, laboriously crafted together every instance of Arnab saying, “One minute, one minute” and variations thereof across at least ten Newshour debates. At a rough estimate, he says “one minute” five times every second, which means you might hear him say it almost 1,000 times in this nearly three-minute long clip. Feel free to count for yourself.
6. Self-promotion despite Arnab
As harried panellists in demand move from one show to another on different channels, some of them become slightly confused. Ravi Shankar Prasad of the BJP accidentally addressed NDTV editor-in-chief Prannoy Roy as ‘Arnab Goswami’ on a show. Roy smoothly slipped in a bit of NDTV promotion instead. Remember, Arnab: Once a part of NDTV, always a part of NDTV.
7. Arnab owns the internet
You know Arnab has arrived when people see entirely unrelated videos and relate it to him. This cheeky tweeter saw a Telugu film video of India’s angriest young man – and called it Goswami instead. “This is what Arnab Goswami thinks he is doing each night during Super PrimeTime Newshour,” tweeted Jacob Joseph three days ago.