Barkha Dutt, the best-known face of NDTV, has attained iconic status as a reporter. A role model for the young, her appeal cuts across all age groups. Barkha has pushed the limits of intrepid news reporting far beyond the conventional. In an exclusive interview to Nirupama Dutt, Barkha talks of her life and work.
She has been given the title of Indian Christiane Amanpour for bringing home war on the television sets. Many are the appellations that young Barkha Dutt has earned in her career as a reporter and now senior editor with New Delhi Television, the country’s biggest private TV company. She is an unmistakable icon for the young. A Miss India 2002 contestant called out from the stage that among the women who inspired her were "Winfrey Oprah, Barkha Dutt and Sushmita Sen".
Young Barkha has earned four journalism awards and the Inlaks Scholarship (1997), which sends six Indians abroad annually for graduate work. Numerous are the positive reviews that her reports have been given in Indian print media. Recently, bubbly Bollywood actress Preity Zinta donned the Barkha Dutt look with cropped hair and no make-up except for kajal as she played Romila Dutta, a war reporter, in Lakshya. All this would be enough to turn any head, young or old. But not Barkha’s for she is a young professional woman with a sensible head on her shoulders.
Meeting Barkha, one thinks she is indeed her mother’s daughter. Her mother’s story of war reporting begins years before Barkha was born. At the time of the Indo-Pak war in 1965, Prabha Behl, a bright young reporter with the Hindustan Times, sought permission to cover the war for her newspaper. Those were the subdued sixties and women were still struggling hard to make a place for themselves in a man’s world. The editor said a firm "No" to Prabha. "We don’t send women reporters to the war front." But Prabha was a competent reporter and she found a way out for herself. She took leave from office and went to stay with her grandparents in Amritsar. Recounting this, Barkha says: "There, she made contacts and went to the front on her own. She started sending news dispatches from there. And these were so good that the newspaper had no choice but to use them." There is pride in the daughter’s voice as she tells this.
Extracts from... Dutt’s way to blaze a trail
Barkha Dutt has extensively reported on Kargil war, Kashmir, The Mumbai Mayhem- the Pak terror attack and Moderator cum Anchor for "We The People" A NDTV Presentation.
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