So, we can confirm that the Jang Group - Times of India Group collaboration, set to be launched January 1st, will be titled "Amn Ki Asha" (The Desire for Peace). Of course, there is some ironic humour to be had in finding Jang promoting Amn, but that is, perhaps, besides the point.
The title is derived from a poem written by noted filmmaker and lyricist Gulzar especially for the occasion and the launch of the collaboration will feature the simultaneous broadcast of a video shot around a recitation of the poem. The recitation will be by none other than the 'Big B' himself, i.e. Mr. Amitabh Bachchan.
Here is what the Press Trust of India (PTI) has already divulged about the upcoming project, derived mainly it seems from Bachchan's blog (obviously, he is not being bound to the kind of secrecy that is being practised on this side of the border).
Amitabh Bachchan to promote India-Pakistan peace
Updated on Monday, December 28, 2009, 18:29 IST
Mumbai: Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan is collaborating with a media house for a peace campaign to better ties between India and Pakistan.
"Their media and our media will through the medium initiate cross over efforts to hold hands, to exchange views and ideas of how to extend our understanding with each other, to build bridges when all else is falling apart," Big B wrote on his blog.
Bachchan will be seen rendering some lines written by noted lyricist Gulzar in a video as a part of the campaign.
The video depicts a casual atmosphere of a wayside tea stall and thoughts related to our early lives lived in smaller towns.
"The idea of lets get together, unfold a `duree` bring on the `dholak` and sing the songs of community singing. Of flying kites from the roof tops of our homes and inviting each other for a game of `kabaddi`," he added.
The 67-year-old actor hailed the commonness between two countries and advocated a need to build confidence and faith in each other.
"We are now two different countries, India and Pakistan, but our cultures match, as do our food and living habits and our speech. We have been in dispute and rancor on many an occasion and continue to be so, but how wonderful for the media of both the nations to want to start this unique move in building each others confidence and faith in the other," Bachchan wrote.
The Times Of India group plans to launch the campaign from January 1.
Some eyebrows may be raised by the involvement of Bachchan, who despite his recent pronouncements calling for Indo-Pak friendship, has not only acted in decidedly rabid anti-Pakistan films such as Ab Tumhare Hawale Watan Saathiyo and Deewaar:Let's Bring the Heroes Home, but also has a very cordial relationship with Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray. But that may be splitting hairs - after all there is no bigger iconic figure in Indian cinema (whatever one may think of his films), he has acted in over 180 films, and his politics have never been that of Bal Thackeray's, whose goonda-istic control over Bombay is a reality the people in the entertainment industry there must live with. Furthermore, even if the criticism of Bachchan is not discounted, it's a good thing in my book if he changes course.
In any case, the funniest tangential bit about this piece of news is that Express TV ran a full news report about it - obviously taking the PTI story as a source - probably without realizing that their rival Jang Group was involved. (Note please that the PTI story makes it sound as if the Times of India Group is doing this on its own!) Generally, you never hear of events involving another media group featured on a rival's channels or in their publications (and this is most true of the Jang Group!). And given the diversification of the business interests of media owners, this is becoming really farcical. So, even if done unintentionally, perhaps one should give kudos to the Express TV management. The collaboration certainly deserves to be taken as big news.
As we mentioned earlier, the launch will also feature a joint front-page editorial in both group's publications, setting out the mission statement for the collaboration. In addition, we are also likely to see a survey, conducted on both sides of the border, of the populace's opinions on a number of issues related to relations between the testy neighbours.
Let's see what else is in store.