Shows on politics will always have a niche audience. The secret is to create something that will have even the cynics coming back for more, be it The Big Fight or The Devil’s Advocate. The latest, The Insiders with Kalyani Shankar, on NewsX, offers groundbreaking insights into significant events of the past-from Pokhran-II to the 1971 Indo-Pakistan War to democracies colliding with Indira Gandhi taking on the might of Nixon - that shaped the history of the country. Shankar will get ‘insiders’ who held key positions at the time to spill the beans. We caught up with the political commentator for more on the making of the show.
The show is Shankar’s brainchild and she has chosen the guests and fixed the topics for each episode. “I wanted to do this flashback kind of thing,” says the former journalist, having penned books like Nixon, Indira and India, Gods of Power and India & the United States: Politics of the Sixties. “I have gone through these political events myself and during that point of time, everything was a big secret. Some facts were reported, some were not. But no one knew the actual truth (like Pokhran II). Now you get to see the main players, who don’t mind telling us what went on during those times,” she confesses.
“I was interested to know about the 1971 India-Pakistan War since I had researched on it, for my book Nixon, Indira and India. So when JFR Jacob, former Lieutenant General, narrated how he successfully liberated Bangladesh,(then east Pakistan) in the 1971 war, it was fascinating,” confides Shankar, who was also a Nuffield Press Fellow at Cambridge university. She mentions looking forward to Jaswant Singh’s episode -the foreign minister during the Kandahar hijack, 1999, will reveal how the government negotiated to rescue passengers of IC 814.
Insiders with Kalyani Shankar airs on NewsX, Saturdays at 2.30 pm, with a repeat on Sundays at 6.30 pm.