Tanay Sukumar is a first-year civil engineering student at Delhi College of Engineering (age 18). He loves writing, blogging, social networking, cricket, reading and maths. He runs a site-blog called ‘News That Matters Not (NTMN)’ where he writes satirical stories based on original news. The site began in November 2009 during his holidays.
In this interview he shares with us some of the interesting things about NTMN.
Q.: You run “News That Matters Not”(NTMN) – a site which displays imaginary and funny news having relevance with the real news. What pinched your brain to go for a rarely harvested crop?
A. : Firstly, thanks for having me here. News humour and satire on internet is certainly a “rarely harvested crop” in our country, as you put it. Now that I look back, I guess NTMN began as an attempt to “use one skill I was good at (writing), to improve another (sense of humour)”. Fake news is not my concept; NTMN began as an emulation of a leading news satire site I came across. I started writing such news stories on my personal blog, after which some friends got interested to contribute, and within a month, it started taking the shape it has today, that of “a first-of-its-kind satire and humour site managed by students”. It is now an amalgam of teamwork, talent, dedication. Gradually, we became better at the skill, and “humour” turned into “satirical humour”; we want our readers to “think along as they get amused”.
Q.: Don’t you have to be careful about any legal issues as you twist the real news in a funny manner? Sometimes it may hurt the originality of it?
A: Well, we have not had any problems till now. Satire is an integral part of any modern democratic society; it is intended to bring out ugly and uncomfortable truths in an amusing, yet thought-provoking way. We have a disclaimer on our website, which is meant to neutralise any ill-feelings that may arise. No one is perfect, we welcome readers to poke fun at us if we offended them. It might help settle issues!
We can’t satisfy everybody at a time. Say, if we are poking fun at Mayawati, and the whole world is laughing with us, even then, there existsone person who is not amused: Mayawati herself (if she cares to read us, I mean)! What matters is that we don’t hurt people insensitively and insensibly. Satire consists of being sensible and taking things in the right spirit. It’s essential to be rational by thought.
As far as the originality of news is concerned, I guess it’s not a big deal. People are bored of the way news is treated in the general news media. Moreover, sometimes some of our readers get to know the real news AFTER they have read our satirical treatment to it!
Q.: Apart from presenting your writing creativity for NTMN, where else you apply it?
A: I have recently started writing a weekly column for a new e-magazine called 21 Fools (http://21fools.com). Besides, I have this new interest of thinking up witty one-liners. I also have a seldom-updated personal blog, where I write stuff completely different from humour. Some of the other NTMNers (that’s what we call our staff) are bloggers, and they are a creative lot.
Q.: Which is your favourite subject to write fake news about? And why?
A: Rakhi Sawant, Raj Thackeray and Mayawati are all-time spoof favourites. One who frequently gets involved in eccentric activities is an easy target, you know. However, we try to avoid a feeling of redundancy among readers, and we try out variety and versatility.
Q.: Let’s have the LIVE pleasure of your satirist writing skill. Have us some exclusive funny short, satirist news from your side based on the present real story.
A.: Hmm… let’s have this news on Jats turning off water supply today in Delhi, and threatening to boycott CWG. “To keep Jats quiet during CWG, government agrees to reservation of seats for them in stadiums”
“The Home Ministry has assured the CWG organising committee that the Jats won’t be able to boycott the Games during October. The government has planned to reserve seats for them in the Games stadiums, and hopefully the word “reservation” will keep them quiet. The Jats have been revolting for reservations, a 21st century status symbol. Reacting to the government’s idea, a Jat leader said they can’t be fooled so easily. “We have other plans. We will sabotage the government’s efforts to teach citizens the art of peeing in MCD urinals. We will demolish all urinals, and tell people to urinate on the roadside and the foreigners,” he told our reporter.” More
Q.: What are your future plans for NTMN?
A: We are just engaging in writing and getting appreciation from readers right now. No concrete plans. We weren’t even sure we’ll last six months, but writing of the kind we have done every day for half a year, has transformed the way the mind reacts to stuff, and now we are sort of used to it. In future, we would like to see more young college students take up humour and satire writing; it is the most difficult, yet a satisfying and self-entertaining genre of writing. Maybe we could make NTMN a full-fledged students’ platform for humour writing in India. It will get talent noticed and appreciated.
Q.: Any special notes you would like to add at the end?
A: I wish to thank others who are an integral part of this blog, for their efforts and enthusiasm. Although I handle all the administration myself, but the contribution of regular and talented authors like Kartik (an article by him was republished by Mid-Day recently), Sugandha, Dhruv among others, is immense, all this is instrumental in our mechanism. I have my gratitude to my old friend Prateek, whose help gave the initial boost to the website, since he was the first volunteer in my venture, and the site was run by only two people for about a month. You can get to know about our staff on “Our authors” page of our website. Besides these, obviously, there is a sea of constructive comments, both criticism and appreciation, from friends, fans and readers, which tells us how we are doing.
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