If you’ve ever worked in a newsroom, it’s easy to get irked at headlines about how “comics are the new journalists”, as if journalism was merely the presentation of your opinions in an entertaining format. But a video essay in the New York Times is hard to argue with. The iconic American newspaper of record just released an opinion video with comedian and satirist Kunal Kamra, which compares the Modi government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic to a “state-orchestrated massacre.”
Kamra collaborated with documentary film-makers Veda Shastri and Gabe Johnson, as well as NYT executive producer Adam B. Ellick on the six-and-a-half-minute video, which eschews punchlines in favour of a sober yet scathing portrayal of the second wave’s devastation. Kamra and the team marshal a ton of facts, figures and news clips to buttress the argument that the over-confidence and denialism of the Modi government contributed to the scale of the second wave, which overwhelmed public health systems all across the country.
“My people are needlessly dying,” Kamra says in the video. “Our government has blood on its hands.”
Kamra and the film-makers spent four weeks working with the newspaper, whittling down an initial 17-18 minute script to its current runtime. The comedian says he was impressed with the NYT’s fact-checking. “Everything that came out of my mouth is 100% verified and can be backed up with sources,” he told DeadAnt.
“I mostly did it to see how it is to collaborate with an international publication,” Kamra added. “We all worked together on the script, they told me what would work for an international audience, what wouldn’t. Overall it was a great experience.”
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