Devil’s Advocate: A bundle of paradoxes

Sir,

Launching of Karan Thapar’s book ‘Devil’s Advocate – The Untold Story’ (Star of Mysore dated Aug.28) was indeed a very well-organised programme and equally well-attended for which Mysuru Literary Forum gets all the credit and also to those who interacted with the highly articulate  author.

Karan Thapar is not an easy person to deal with. While reviewing Karan Thapar’s Devil’s Advocate: The Untold Story (The Hindu dated Aug. 12) G. Sampath has identified three contradictions in Thapar’s public life. One may debate how rightly those contradictions have been identified but one thing is certain that Thapar has earned his reputation as a celebrity interviewer and that too by intimidating his interviewees.

The first paradox is as to why high and mighty of the society would like to be intimidated and bruised in the process? The second equally important paradox is that in order to know what a person knows Thapar should not do what he does to his interviewees. He has created awe around himself and would like to dominate as a result of which the interviewees become defensive to begin with.

I used to teach a course on methodology of techniques of interview in which I would try to make students understand what the purpose of the interview was. If the purpose was to get to know what an interviewee knows then allow him patiently to scan his memory cells. That can be best obtained if you put the interviewee at ease, make him to reflect and search his memory in a gentle way.

We all know that a human being in any activity howsoever mighty he may be gets a partial view of his interactions with other people and his surroundings besides everyone has his own blind spots and above all the memory is selective. A patient and sympathetic hearing on the part of the interviewer could enable him to connect dots to make a reliable story.

What Thapar does is just the opposite of it. Whatever opinion I may hold about his interview techniques, he is known as a successful interviewer which may be on account of other reasons.  I think we all enjoy seeing demolishment particularly, if one is high and mighty.

—P.K.Misra 

J.P.Nagar  29.8.2018

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