Saturday, January 21, 2012

Jaipur Live: The Oprah Winfrey show at JLF

By Lakshmi Chaudhry and Sandip Roy
Editor’s note: The Jaipur Literature Festival, widely acknowledged as India’s premier literary festival got underway at the Diggi Palace on Friday. The festival made headlines well ahead of its inauguration largely due to the furore over Salman Rushdie’s proposed visit. However the festival also features a star studded line-up with notable names such as David Remnik, Ben Okri, Deepak Chopra and Nilanjana Roy.
Firstpost Editors Sandip Roy and Lakshmi Chaudhry are at the festival, where they will be live blogging the sessions, as well as other interesting activity in and around the Diggi Palace environs.
First up today is Oprah Winfrey, the host of the award-winning The Oprah Winfrey Show, she entertained, enlightened and uplifted millions of viewers for 25 years.  She is the CEO and Chief Creative Officer of OWN:  Oprah Winfrey Network, a television network available in the United States and Canada.  Her accomplishments as a global media leader and philanthropist have established her as one of the most respected and admired public figures today.
Oprah Winfrey is in conversation with Barkha Dutt today at the Jaipur Literature Festival.
11:47 am: Barkha is angling for a job? second time now she has said “you must hire me”.
Oprah says I wanted people to know – it also happened to me
Interesting the conversation has turned to abuse of the girl child a touchy subject in India. Will Barkha bring that conversation to India… instead of staying in America and Oprah’s life. “The shame of abuse, and its lasting impact.  All my life i had to fight. fight my uncle, fight my brothers. a girl child aint safe” – Oprah quotes sofia from color purple.
11:40 am: How nice to be able to say after seeing the plight of widows “I immediately emailed my friend Maria Shriver” Crowd does not bristle when she talks about eradicating discrimination against widows. The way she de-stings that is by saying this is not just India. Am sure it happens to women around the world as in upperclass women get invited less to party when husband dies. As if death is contagious.
Mantra of Oprah – “You have to speak up for yourself.” (much excitement)
“When you are excellent people pay attention” (not that much excitement in audience…)
My life has been a Taj Mahal, says O.
When you’re excellent, people notice. Always be the best even if you’re flipping fries at McDonald’s.
11:37 am: India is a paradox, says Oprah
Calls her visit one the greatest life experiences she’s ever had.
Her detailed observations — about the ox pulling steel beams — shows O has been paying very close attention. Wonder what she made of the gazillion skin lightening ads, as a colleague wondered last night
Will she come again?
A noticeable hesitation before she says, “Uhhh, Yes!”
11:30 am: Important for her go to the slums but not show “the worst of the worst.” But show that people can live in poverty with dignity.
This is the brilliance of O: that she understands that showing people eating out of garbage in a slum actually makes for bad TV. It shocks and alienates her American viewers and upsets the Indians.
11:20 am:  Oprah calls Deepak Chopra a great thought leader of our time.
What she will take with her is an underlying sense of calmness, sense of karma. People don’t just talk their religion, they live it.
What is it with red lights? Does it mean stop or not? Or is it just for your entertainment?
She gets the sense of how glorious it is that this is a country that has no respect for nursing homes (because children take care of their parents).
Clearly no one has broken the bad news about ‘new India’ to O.
11:10 am: As Oprah makes an appearance, she looks rather lovely in her kurta/pant ensemble. Sanjoy Roy threatens to smack the over excited photographers much like kindergarten teacher.
Barkha calls O the most loved, influential person on TV. Lots of adoring, inflated  rhetoric. Barkha needs to master Oprah’s knack of praising a guest without sounding forced or ingratiating.
Oprah shows Barkha how it’s done: praises Barkha for doing her opening bit without teleprompter. Sounds sincere and spontaneous.

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