The Broken News 2 is a brilliantly insightful look at media today

Shriya Pilgaonkar and Jaideep Ahlawat in The Broken News. photo: Trailer Video Grab / ZEE5

Some franchises are created (born?) to become better by the season: the recent Maharani 3 was one, and Broken News Season 2 is another. Eminently more gripping than Season 1, it has a story that is rounded off but can yet go into a third season with imaginative ideating and writing, though derived from the British series, Press.

The saga of two TV channels, the honest, unpartisan and passionate Awaaz Bharati, and its determined opponent and TRP-driven Josh 24/7, which relies on sensationalism, goes far from ideology and is barely concerned with facts and truth, ended in Season 1 with a situation where Awaaz Bharati was crumbling, Josh 24/7 was in full fettle and was about the shenanigans of their political supporters and opponents.

Awaaz Bharati’s firebrand young reporter, Radha Bhargava (Shriya Pilgaonkar) is now in jail, branded as an anti-national and a terrorist by the machinations of Josh 24/7 and its editor-in-chief, Dipankar Sanyal (Jaideep Ahlawat). All this as she is opposing the ruling party’s draconian Operation Umbrella, a technological way of invading citizens’ piracy. Awaaz Bharati’s counterpart, the fearlessly idealistic Amina Qureshi (Sonali Bendre-Behl) is determined to clear Radha’s name and get her out of jail.

When Radha finally gets bail, she is understandably in vindictive mode and feels that ethics alone cannot make her win over her enemies. The new investor in her channel, the NRI businessman, Ronnie (Akshay Oberoi), who happens to be her college-days boyfriend, supports her staunchly when Amina and Radha have ideological differences over what to do next.

Amina does not agree with Radha’s anti-CM and anti-Dipankar agenda that seem to mix personal vendetta with ‘fearless’ journalism, so Ronnie devises a ‘Awaaz Bharati Digital’ platform with Radha as the chief. The platform gets off with flying colors as followers.

As media, Josh is still targeting both Amina and Radha and the channel as “anti-national” as Dipankar has his own motivations and compulsions apart from a massive ego. As different news break out, of a suicide by an entire family, of bad food in a village school, of lithium being found in a small town, of electoral bonds and also many other issues, there are moral and ethical issues galore than spin to the forefront, and Amina, Radha and Dipankar (each with succinct back-stories) have their own take on them and so do what they must.

Relentlessly gripping, The Broken News 2 shows everyone at his or her best, and the foremost heroes are (Indian) writer Sambit Mishra (the series is terrifically adapted and Indianized), director and developer Vinay Waikul and series editor Atish Mhatre. The background score (Aditya Pushkarna) is excellently mood-inducing yet unobtrusive, as it should be in every case.

Technically more than competent, the series incisively looks at the audiovisual media today, the why’s and how’s of their political leanings, the machinations, the ugly goings-on and the flip-flops between the professional and personal sides of journalists, hinting also at why, in many cases, initial idealism corrodes away and changes into a lust for fame, money and success—and finally, power. The twists at the end, of course, do come across as a shade stereotyped, but nevertheless add to the excitement.

The tallest turn here comes from the very human yet ruthless essay that Jaideep Ahlawat delivers in Dipankar’s role. His expressions at every occasion, especially his confident, even smug, smiles, are the highlight of his performance, along with the body language that shows very often, a clear battle between power and honesty within him.

As Amina, Sonali Bendre-Behl gives the kind of solid rendition that proves that this actress is one powerful actor, evolved since the time she took a break from the mediocre or superficial roles she was being given in cinema two decades ago: at one point there is a remark by a colleague that she could have bene a gifted actor 20 years back! Shriya Pilgaonkar as Radha is no less. This formidable progeny of a formidable acting couple (Sachin and Supriya Pilgaonkar) puts in a blazing, all-engines-firing performance as Radha.

The support is no less enriching. Notable in particular among them are Indraneil Sengupta as Pankaj Awasthi, Taaruk Raina as Anuj Saxena, Sanjeeta Bhattacharya as Juhi Shergill, Faisal Rashid as Kamal Wadia, Jay Upadhyay as Praful Gupta, Shrikant Yadav as the Home Minister, Sukhmani Sadana as Arunima Dipankar Sanyal, Nidhie Menon as her daughter, Ahana, Suchitra Pillai as a Josh 24/7 team member, Bhavish Kukrej as Sacha Sachin, Akshay Oberoi as Ronnie, Dinker Sharma as Nandan, Ishika Gagneja as Zeba, Aishwarya Chaudhary as Rihana and the actors who play the conniving tech geek and also the scientist, Dr. Mansoor Alam.

Each has a phenomenal contribution to make in this phenomenal, must-watch series. Do not miss it.

ZEE5 presents a BBC India Studios’, Applause Entertainment & Banijay Asia production, The Broken News 2  Produced by: Sameer Gogate  Developed and directed by: Vinay Waikul  Written by: Mike Bartlett, Vinay Waikul & Sambit Mishra  Music: Aditya Pushkarna  Starring: Sonali Bendre-Behl, Jaideep Ahlawat, Shriya Pilgaonkar, Indraneil Sengupta, Taaruk Raina, Sanjeeta Bhattacharya, Faisal Rashid, Jay Upadhyay, Shrikant Yadav, Sukhmani Sadana, Nidhie Menon, Suchitra Pillai, Bhavish Kukrej, Akshay Oberoi, Dinker Sharma, Ishika Gagneja, Aishwarya Chaudhary & others







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