Oct 07 2012

How Not To Conduct An Interview

Published by Balaji at 10:05 pm under Hindi Cinema, Tamil Cinema

sridevi-suhasini

I’m not a big fan of interviews on TV since the interviewers steer clear of any topics that could be even remotely interesting. Afraid of controversy, they play it really safe and so the interviews are bland and boring with the actor repeating facts he/she has already uttered in a million interviews and praising sky high the movie he/she is there to promote. But I looked forward to the interview with Sridevi on Jaya TV. With her long innings in cinema, her unparalleled success in multiple languages, an interesting personal life and a much-expected comeback after a long hiatus, I looked forward to an interesting talk with lots of information. An added bonus was fact that she has never given an interview to a Tamil television channel. But Suhasini managed to turn the interview into a  manual on how not to conduct an interview.

Suhasini’s questions were invariably longer than the answers. This happened on many questions as she guessed Sridevi’s emotions in a situation or provided her own perspective of an issue. In other cases, since she had worked as the assistant director on some of Sridevi’s movies, Suhasini prefixed the question with a long story about herself and her knowledge about some incident. In the few instances she got to say a few words, Sridevi showed us she had some interesting things to say(what she actually said in Moondru Mudichu in the scene where Kamal falls into the water was a hilarious anecdote). But with Suhasini usually only asking her for confirmation rather than information, the actress couldn’t say much apart from a weak “Yes”.

When the subject of Sridevi’s popular songs came up, Suhasini ended up singing every song that she asked Sridevi about. While she did mention that Sridevi sang a song in Chandni and lent her voice in Moondraam Pirai’s Munbu Oru Kaalathula…, she gave the actress no chance as she launched into every song and sang a few lines. Poor Sridevi was left listening to her and praising her rendition. As if subjecting Sridevi to her singing was not enough, Suhasini then mistook the interview for a memory test. So after singing the song, she asked Sridevi if she remembered the movie the song was from. To add some variety, she also asked her to find the song(for instance, Ilamaiyenum Poongaatru…) based on information she provided about the scene. During this portion, the interview began to look more like a quiz and Sridevi looked like a deer caught in the headlights as she tried to recall films and songs from several decades ago.

Throughout the interview, Suhasini was constantly interrupting Sridevi and finishing her sentences for her. But the worst instance happened during the aforementioned ’songs quiz’. After asking her which film the song Chinnanchiru Vayadhil… was from, she promptly answered the question herself without even giving her a chance to reply.

With lots of news items and photos appearing on every website, even casual fans of Tamil cinema would’ve known that Ajith was making a cameo appearance in the Tamil version of English Vinglish and that his role was being essayed by Amitabh Bachan in Hindi. But Suhasini appeared surprised when Sridevi told her that Ajith had acted in the film and then went on to ask her who did his role in the Hindi and Telugu versions. This lack of preparation for the interview was shocking.

Suhasini finally wrapped up the interview with the question “How did you feel giving this interview?”. A dumber question there can’t be and what exactly she expected Sridevi to answer for this question, I’ll never know. But if she’d asked me “How did you feel seeing this interview?”, I’d have some choice words for her!

26 responses so far

26 Responses to “How Not To Conduct An Interview”

  1. Sandya says:

    While you guys sat and watched this ‘pathetic’ interview, I spent my time wisely and watched English Vinglish instead! Hee hee! :D

  2. skandadeva says:

    I never bothered to see an interview, unless hey are interviewing Amir khan ,Rajnikanth, Salman khan and Kamalahsan. Interviews from these actors are rare and if they give are sure to be real treat. Hate to read others actors interviews. once happen to see Vijay giving an interview saying Sura’s is the Best film he has ever done. That put me off already.

  3. kuttybear says:

    Sandhya, lol! But, BB, I was just about to see it on youtube. Now I am sure I will be remembering (& probably finding) the list of “don’ts” from your post here. Not complaining, though. From what I gather, we need a “good listener” for interviews. May be, Suhasini was not the best choice for that.

  4. KayKay says:

    Have never liked Suhasini as an interviewer or film reviewer. Her “Tirai Vimarsanam” is uniformly awful, her pseudo-critical assessement of the film’s merit laughably juvenile, topped only by the sheer banality of her interviews with said film’s cast and crew.

  5. Raj says:

    Well written Balaji. I had the same feeling after watching the interview..I’ve never had any regard for Suhasini’s interviewing skills (she always hijacks the interview to exhibit her ‘profound’ skills about the interviewee/subject), but this one took it to the extreme..Unwatchable stuff!

  6. ram says:

    I haven’t watched this interview but am not surprised at all…Suhasini is an intolerable TV anchor – very pretentious, annoyingly talkative, falsely modest at times and terribly irritating at all times!

  7. Yup the interview was irritating. I hate interviews on Indian television. The only interview I feel is decent on any Tamil TV channel is “Cinema Talk” hosted by Abhishek (Mogha Mul fame). That is a decent show on Jaya TV.

  8. veer says:

    Just because Anu Hasan is great at interviewing, someone came up with the idea of putting Suhasini in the same kind of show. She managed to out talk Cho, while interviewing him, if you can believe it. The background team also are useless I think as compared to Vijay TV crew.

  9. veer says:

    Another thing, When a guest walks in, Suhasini doesn’t have the courtesy of getting up and shaking their hands. She will be seated as though she is a queen calling for a sentry. Highly irritating to see even 5 mins. I hate her…….!!

  10. BB, great summary of why I don’t watch interviews in Indian television in general. Suhasini is absolutely pretentious and egoistic as ram pointed out. And what is worse is that, none of these interviews feel genuine or real. The actors look like they don’t want to be there. The interviewer looks like he/she doesn’t want to be there. The entire production reeks of this falseness and seems completely fake to me that I haven’t had the inclination to watch any of them. This is how I also feel about The Front Row with Anupama Chopra, which is absolutely the fakest piece of crap I’ve ever seen, not to mention ones hosted by Simi Garewal and Karan Johar as well.

    None of them have been anywhere close to one of the many Tonight Shows in the US or the absolutely brilliant Inside the Actors Studio hosted by James Lipton. If these people want to learn about being a host and getting the actors to open up to the public, then they should absolutely watch ITAS.

  11. kajan says:

    There is no point in comparing Indian cinema and its environment with Hollywood. It’s like comparing apples and oranges.

    As for Suhasini, she has the same problem as her uncle Kamal. An opinion in most things and a desire to be the centre of attention. Just like Kamal throws himself into every screen, Suhasini talks over others. I have seen her conduct a few interviews and she fills in a lot for the other person.:-)

    But she has sometimes made good points. Her remarks on Neeya Naana regarding the state of the average Tamil heroes grooming in films, her take on Tamil serials(sob fests), are all said out of genuine concern.

  12. Swapna says:

    Balaji,
    I happened to catch a glimpse of her interview in Kalaingar TV for the same reason you mentioned above, after like 10 mts into the interview(this is after her various movie clips, EV trailer) I couldn’t stand the whole Tamashaa, I switched off. The interviewer was asking such lame and stupid questions:(. I think this is also on the same page. I would recommend you stay out of that program too :)
    Swaps

  13. Sneha says:

    All Mani Ratnam fans are still wondering how he fell for Suhasini? :)
    May be she has talked him out of all his good creative ideas as it’s been kinda downhill for him since then…..

  14. KayKay says:

    “How did you feel giving this interview?”

    Preferred response: I’ve had tooth extractions that were less painful

  15. KayKay says:

    “All Mani Ratnam fans are still wondering how he fell for Suhasini?”

    Most likely talked him into submission.

  16. KayKay says:

    “There is no point in comparing Indian cinema and its environment with Hollywood. It’s like comparing apples and oranges”

    And there we go….the time-tested response to any criticism levelled at Indian Stars/movies/songs/game shows/sports/news/books/ etc etc

    An interview is an interview. Especially a Celeb interview. You do your homework on the subject, you treat them with respect, while coaxing, prodding, cajoling or even lightly challenging them to reveal an insight that’s off the beaten path of pre-prepared standard responses. And you let THEM do most of the talking. This is standard whether you’re interviewing a celeb in HK, China, Korea, US, UK, France, Spain or Africa.

    Why the separate standards for Indian shows? Mediocrity must be called out, wherever it rears it’s ugly head. And if you want to excel, you must benchmark yourself against the leaders, not followers in the field.

  17. Balaji says:

    Sandya, lucky you! :)

    skandadeva, yeah I do watch Rajni interviews since they r rare & he always has something new and interesting. Dhanush too gives good interviews since he is so energetic & casual. Then again, they have to be allowed to talk first!

    kuttybear, Suhasini is definitely not a listener. She loves to talk about herself and that’s the worst quality for an interviewer.

    KayKay, haven’t seen any episodes of her programs. Hence the complete shock on seeing this interview.

    Raj, ‘hijacking the interview’ is a perfect description of what she did!

    ram, that seems to be the opinion of anyone who has seen her programs…

    Giri, I don’t think I’ve seen it. Has he interviewed any of our top actors/actresses?

    veer, “She managed to out talk Cho, while interviewing him, if you can believe it.” lol, had a good laugh reading and imagining that. It requires real talent to do that :)

    Balaji, true the interviews sound fake & manufactured with pre-approved questions & safe answers. But I’ve heard that Karan Johar’s show had the stars talking quite freely? I haven’t seen any episodes but read about some controversies that the interviews led to.

    kajan, lol, good comparison with Kamal there :)

    Swapna, oh so Sridevi did the rounds with other channels too huh? This was the only one I saw a preview of & so wanted to watch. But based on ur comment, looks like the other one wasn’t any better either.

    Sneha, Mani is apparently a man of few words. Guess Suhasini speaks enough for both of them :)

  18. Giri, I don’t think I’ve seen it. Has he interviewed any of our top actors/actresses?

    I started watching the show only recently and he interviewed Srikkanth. That interview was good too. But I don’t think that he has actually interviewed any one who is a star yet. But I may be wrong. His interview of Gayathri Raghuram and actress Saritha’s sister were good too.

  19. vijee says:

    Haven’t seen the interview — came here via hawkeyeview.
    And what is Suhasini wearing — a nightie??

    Please post a link to this abominable interview — if there is one.

  20. Deepa says:

    I wasted my rare-to-get-Saturday-afternoon time on this interview. I haven’t watched many Suhasini-anchored shows…. and will never watch one again. The only beenfit of watching the so-called interview.. I was able to LOL on this review.

  21. Nikitha says:

    Anu would have done a way better job.

    I love Suhasini as an actress, but she’s quite annoying in front of a mike! As for Karan interviews, they really are quite juicy! He gets a lot of secrets flowing.

  22. nathan says:

    i was forced to watch, as it was running during my lunch in VOD.
    I normally hate normal suhasini. And here… it’s excited suhasini, who is on her nostalgia trip. Donno why she is so excited to suck up to Sridevi, just bcos she is from north or something.

    add to that, she came in night dress of some sort. irritating to hear and watch.
    add to that, sridevi is good looking old lady, but spoiling our imagination of her yesteryear beauty.

    finally your blog atleast consoled us…

  23. Balaji says:

    Giri, I’m still not sure about the timings of Jaya TV programs in the US. Will keep an eye out for Abishek’s program.

    vijee, welcome :) not sure what the dress was but it did look like a nighty!

    Deepa, thank God it was only an hour. I caught it by accident but my decision is the same as yours – never to watch an interview hosted by Suhasini again.

    Nikitha, oh yeah, Anu would’ve been way better than Suhasini. We would’ve actually heard Sridevi talk then!
    yeah, I heard the same thing about Karan’s program.

    Vijays, thanks!

    nathan, lol yeah its difficult to think of any positives about the program.

  24. “Giri, I’m still not sure about the timings of Jaya TV programs in the US.”

    The program comes on Saturday’s 7:00 PM EST.

  25. SoriHaasini says:

    Can’t agree more, worst anchor…most of the times interrupting, thrusting her own perspective on every Q she asks the interviewee.
    Intolerable , even bringing her caste/community non-sense , when Sharook Hyped Khan got a slot to promote Tamil version of his mokkai Ra One with her, she goes asking SK, how was it working with some tamil name ending Iyyengar who worked on some part of the ra.one movie ( script or some editing) and continues to say he is from our community …WTF…..I am Iyyer so…or better yet I am Iyyest… brainless moron…