On 7th August 2018, NDTV published an article by one Nilanjana Basu that reported how Imran Khan, the Bollywood actor is often mistaken for the cricketer turned Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan. The report quoted a host of incidents from Imran Khan’s (Bollywood actor) Instagram account to make their case. The quoted a post where someone had addressed a letter to “Dear Prime Minister” to which he wittily responded with “I guess I can no longer ignore the call to action. Gonna start drafting some policy outlines this week, I’ll keep you guys updated.”
The clincher, however, came further along the article. NDTV wrote :
“That’s not it. In 2011, a CNN reporter scheduled an interview with the actor, mistaking him for Pakistani cricketing legend Imran Khan, who is now about to be appointed as Pakistan’s new Prime Minister. Here’s just an excerpt from the interview as procured from CNN by Unreal Times: “Reporter: For a fast bowler, you have quite a small build and frame. How did you manage to be successful in your sporting career despite being so puny?
Imran: You yanks have a very weird sense of humour. Er… my cute looks and puny frame help bowl maidens over, you see. Hopefully, I will continue to maintain a good strike rate going forward also.”
The “incident” quoted by NDTV to substantiate their article was actually a satire piece by the famous ‘The UnReal Times’. The portal which has now stopped its operations, and has two best-selling books to its name, ‘The UnReal Elections’ and ‘The UnReal Aliens’, had written a satirical article in 2011 titled “Journalist mistakenly interviews Bollywood actor Imran Khan instead of Pakistani cricket legend”.
Here is an excerpt from the article published by The UnReal Times :
Julia (now laughing hysterically): I was told that Cricket is a sophisticated sport that we Americans will never be able to understand. I can see why now. On a serious note, how easy was it to make the transition to full-time political activism?
Imran (raises his eyebrows quizzically): Er… I am not really a full-time activist. I sometimes take a stand on issues of dubious public interest such as filing a PIL against increasing the legal age for drinking mainly to garner some publicity and increase my star value.
Julia: Wow, you advocate that drinking should be legalized? Mr Khan, you realize that your life can be in danger for taking such a bold and extreme stand…
Imran: Hmm… now you are scaring me. Why would anyone want to kill me for taking such a stand? This is India for heaven’s sake, not Pakistan.
Julia (confused): er…but aren’t you a Pakistani?
Imran: Hell no!!
Julia: Huh? Wait a minute, aren’t you the famous cricketing legend Imran Khan who won the World Cup for Pakistan in 1992?
(Imran, whose ears slowly begin to turn scarlet, just stares at her)
Julia (still confused): Well then, who are you?
(Imran opens his mouth in indignation, but no words come out. He abruptly stands up and walks away leaving a confused Julia behind)
The following day, Imran Khan swore not to grant interviews to ignorant American journalists ever again. Julia, on the other hand, has requested that she be shifted elsewhere from the South Asian bureau citing utter lack of familiarity with the region.
The UnReal Times had pointed out NDTV’s folly in its own unique style yesterday at 8:00 AM.
— The UnReal Times (@TheUnRealTimes) August 8, 2018
NDTV has now deleted the reference to The UnReal Times and added a disclaimer that reads: “(This story has been edited to remove an inadvertent error)”
Earlier too, satire has been mistaken for ‘news’ when scientist and columnist Anand Ranganathan’s satirical tweet had triggered the usual suspects in the liberal world.