Award-winning filmmaker Vinay Shukla’s new feature, While We Watched, a turbulent newsroom drama featuring Ravish Kumar has won the ‘Amplify Voices Award' at the Toronto International Film Festival 2022.
The film received a great response from the audience, click here to watch the video: https://www.instagram.com/p/Cina6S2gd-d/
Watch the video of the award acceptance: https://www.instagram.com/p/CiqE6gqpYFo/
While We Watched is Shukla’s second film to have its World Premiere at TIFF Docs after his much-acclaimed debut feature, film An Insignificant Man (co-directed with Khushboo Ranka). The film won a historic censorship battle, was hailed at film festivals around the world, and became a runaway success in theatres.
Titled ‘NAMASKAR! MAIN RAVISH KUMAR’ in Hindi, While We Watched is a turbulent newsroom drama that intimately chronicles the working days of broadcast journalist Ravish Kumar, as he navigates a spiralling world of truth and disinformation.
Through the lens of its protagonist - a man clinging onto integrity even as everything falls apart - ‘While We Watched’ urges the viewer to consider their own responsibility and culpability as news and media come under greater scrutiny than ever before, Vinay’s upcoming film delivers the promise of a bold, timely, and globally relevant documentary.
The film received standing ovation at the end of each screening at TIFF.
The 94 mins documentary in Hindi-English language is a UK production and is produced by LONO Studio and BRITDOC Films.
The director Vinay reflects on the film, “Journalists are the foremost storytellers of our time. I spent two years in Ravish's newsroom, watching him build his daily broadcast. Ravish and his team would get some stories right, some stories just about. Watching him, I realized that for every report that we see on the news, the journalist behind the report pays a cost - an emotional, financial, ethical and mental cost. No story is easy, every story is personal. This film is about that personal cost that journalists pay to do their job right. My film would apply to any journalist who has stood their ground and chosen to file a story which was true to their beliefs. This film is my love letter to journalism.”
One of the film’s producers, Luke W Moody, remarks, “In this moment we’re seeing a new wave of truth and what we understand to be news being manipulated globally to serve the dangerous power of the few. Who will speak up for truth and debate in the dark noise of propaganda? Vinay’s film is a dignified, stirring lens into that abyss and a call to recognise what we might lose while we watched."
A turbulent newsroom drama intimately chronicling the working days of broadcast journalist Ravish Kumar as he navigates a spiraling world of truth and disinformation. As factual reporting is in free fall globally, ‘While We Watched’ is a dignified lens into the abyss.
The Prime Time Indian TV journalist,Ravish Kumar, is in trouble.
Famous for his unflinching takedowns of the ruling establishment during his long-running primetime news hour, his nerves have begun to fray from carrying the torch of ‘good journalism’ for too long. In the public eye, Ravish has become a regular fixture, beaming from TV sets and widely shared phone videos. His primetime news bulletin has long been characterized by solid research, verified evidence, vignette-style notes from the field, and a sharp commentary with a touch of rustic sass. In the Indian media landscape, Kumar’s show is a far cry from the new industry standard of high decibel, polarizing, blustering TV news debates
As press freedom further disintegrates and self-censorship becomes the new normal, Kumar struggles to stay afloat in the rising tide of his own network’s financial hardships, sinking TRP ratings, and the strain of continuous downsizing. The dangerously deteriorating standard of public discourse finds Ravish at the receiving end of harassment, intimidation, morphed images, threats to his life and even violence against his family.
With a growing target on his back, and the looming threat of his network’s imminent closure, Ravish transforms from a spunky troublemaker into a deeply troubled man, worried for himself, his family, and the soul of his nation.
Curators Note- Thom Powers, Film Programmer TIFF & Miami FF // Co-Founder: DOC NYC
‘While We Watched’ is essential viewing for anyone interested in how television journalism is under threat. Although the film is rooted in India, its depiction of misinformation eroding fact-based news could apply to any number of countries from Russia to the United States.
At the center of the film is veteran reporter Ravish Kumar of India’s NDTV who strives to uphold standards of independence and accountability. “Our job is to ask the most difficult questions to those in power,” he says. But every day, he faces a new set of challenges: budget cuts, staff departures, mysterious obstructions and even death threats. His station struggles to compete against the rising popularity of channels that replace news with zealots shouting down their opponents. Decades ago, writer Paddy Chayefsky satirized a dark trend line for TV news in Network, but the reality documented in ‘While We Watched’ goes beyond anyone’s worst predictions.
Filmmaker Vinay Shukla tells this story at the fast-paced speed of breaking news. Early in the film, the accelerator is pressed to the floor and never lets up. One pleasure of the film is watching dogged correspondents at work riding the adrenaline rush of getting scoops. Against the odds of India’s increasingly grim news landscape, Kumar remains a beacon of hope in his professionalism and mentoring of younger reporters. Their perseverance amidst chaos is a wonder to behold
About Ravish Kumar
Ravish Kumar is an Indian journalist, author, and a prominent media personality. He is the Senior Executive Editor of NDTV India, and hosts the channel’s flagship weekday show ‘Prime Time’
Ravish has been conferred with various awards for his work in journalism. He received the highly prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2019, with the foundation remarking, “Despite all the perils and aggravations, Ravish has remained consistent in his effort to preserve and widen the space for a critical, socially responsible media.” He is also a two time recipient of the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Award (2017, 2013), the Gauri Lankesh Award for Journalism, the first Kuldip Nayar Journalism award (2017), and the Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi Award for Hindi
Journalism and Creative Literature. Ravish was included in the list of 100 most influential Indians (2016) by The Indian Express, and was also named ‘Journalist of the Year’ by the Mumbai Press Club.
A household name in India, Ravish’s primetime news bulletins are viewed across the country. His signature reports - thoroughly researched, fact-driven, charming, and poetically written - are instantly recognisable and widely shared. In recent years, Ravish has come under heavy fire for not falling in line with the changing news landscape. His unrelenting struggle in the pursuit of good journalism is the subject of the upcoming newsroom thriller, ‘While We Watched’.