Prannoy Roy had added a couple of smileys and exclamation marks to a mail that he forwarded to me a couple of years ago. A viewer of NDTV had objected to what he saw on air on the channel on December 9, 2009. The viewer’s unhappiness was not about the contents of my live reports and analysis that crucial night, when Union Home minister P Chidambaram had announced that the process of formation of a separate Telangana state will start.
The angst of this gentleman writing from London was directed at the colour of my shirt.
Purely by chance, that late night, I happened to be wearing a shirt that is a shade similar to the colour of the Telangana Rashtra Samiti’s flag. The viewer suspected that I may have been conveying my personal stand on Telangana, without saying so in so many words.
I wrote back a polite reply to the viewer, telling him that when I left home that morning, I did not anticipate this announcement and when there is a breaking news story he surely did not expect me to focus first on changing my shirt instead of going `Live’ with the report.
But I can’t deny that ever since, every time I am choosing a shirt to wear to work, that mail has played on my mind. I consciously try to wear my neutrality on my sleeve. After all once bitten, twice shy. So pink I must rule out. Yellow is associated with the Telugu Desam, so even if I feel like a vanilla or in the brightest of moods, I have to avoid that. Green is the colour of the MIM and red I must stay away from if I don’t want to get the non-communists seeing red over the colour of my shirt. White, blue, those colours have also been claimed by different political parties, almost like a copyright. And now I worry each time a new political party is launched, that it may mean one colour less in my wardrobe.
If I thought my preference to wear solid colours has really limited my options, there is a problem with coalitions too. The colour combination itself becomes taboo. Similarly white shirt with black trousers is out since Chiranjeevi in his political avatar prefers this combo. Packing my bag for Rajahmundry this week, I decided not to carry any of my striped shirts since the man I was to meet there, Y S Jaganmohan Reddy, never changes his stripes.
It doesn’t always work. I find it tedious to change shirts midway through a day, if a political shoot crops up. But you do see faces grinning knowingly, almost conspiratorially, if by chance you end up meeting a TDP politico in a yellow shirt. “So you plan to join our party,” will be followed by a pat on the back. “So you plan to join those yellow shirts?” will be the sarcastic sneer of a Congress politician for the same attire.
Who says only models have wardrobe malfunction ? !