India broadcast journalist Ravish Kumar, is the subject of Vinay Shukla’s newsroom documentary While We Watched, world premiering at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival.
While We Watched is a turbulent newsroom drama intimately chronicling the working days of broadcast journalist Ravish Kumar as he navigates a spiraling world of truth and disinformation. Although the film is set in India, director Vinay Shukla underscores how the erosion of fact based journalism is a threat to all of us globally.
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.
Director Vinay Shukla is a filmmaker, producer, and a leading figure in the Indian documentary landscape. His debut feature in 2016, the non-fiction political thriller, An Insignificant Man (co-directed with Khushboo Ranka) was internationally acclaimed, set a new anti-censorship precedent, and went on to become the most theatrically successful documentary film in India. His short film Bureaucracy Sonata (2011), won the HBO Best Short Film Award at the South Asian International Film Festival in 2012.
Vinay’s second feature film, While We Watched- a non-fiction newsroom drama – is premiering at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival.