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The Broken News Season 2: A Review of Unflinching Honesty Despite Minor Glitches

In Season 2 of The Broken News, reflections on the morality of news reporting take an unpredictable and winding route as personal prejudices and professional ideals clash in a cruel and destructive struggle for dominance between two TV networks.

The eight-episode Zee5 series, which stars Sonali Bendre, Jaideep Ahlawat, and Shriya Pilgaonkar, tells the captivating story of a group of journalists who struggle to distinguish fact from fiction, sach (truth) from sansani (sensationalism), and the public interest from propaganda. It explores the mazes of an all-out war of agendas and belief systems.

Set in the capital city of a large state where an opposition leader (Sandesh Kulkarni) mounts a political campaign against the chief minister (Srikant Yadav), the show, adapted from a BBC One series, centres on two leading national news channels who take sides and continually snipe at each other, reflecting the bitterness of the clash of ideologies unfolding in the larger arena on the ground.

The Broken News S2 is a story of political crimes, a newsroom drama, and a revenge saga that bases its plot on recent real-world events. It is executed with constant expertise and awareness of the times.

Data theft, troll armies, electoral bonds, mass suicides, app-based moneylending schemes, the death of social media influencers, midday meal scams, the mysterious death of a geologist, attempted cover-ups of water contamination cases, and, of course, the big industry trying to control news flow and political power are all mentioned in it.

Is it too much for one season of a television show? Maybe it is. The Broken News S2’s need to use rushed board strokes occasionally detracts a little from the story. Apart from that, there is a certain amount of ambiguity introduced when it uses crude techniques to delineate boundaries between conflicting viewpoints.

If that doesn’t significantly affect the final result, it’s because the screenplay makes sure that the story progresses at a speed that eliminates the chance that the fleeting hiccups will stand out and cause the show to drag.

In the sequel to the Vinay Waikul-directed 2022 newsroom drama series, writer Sambit Mishra uses newsworthy tidbits to craft an engaging narrative that addresses relevant subjects with the gravity they need. While not all of it is as impactful as the others, there are moments in The Broken News Season 2 that really resonate and make you think.

With the help of a strong and consistent performance from the lead actors as well as the supporting cast (which includes two important news additions, Geetika Vidya Ohlyan and Akshay Oberoi, and Sanjeeta Bhattacharya, Faisal Rashid, Taaruk Raina, and Indraneil Sengupta), the show navigates through a sequence of events that prompt conflicting reactions from two news channels run by two people with completely different approaches to journalism.

Jostling for power, pelf and position, the journos vent their feelings and beliefs in edit meetings and on prime time shows. Season 1 had ended with Radha Bhargava (Pilgaonkar) of Awaaz Bharati, a channel headed by Amina Qureshi (Bendre), being jailed after Dipankar Sanyal (Ahlawat), editor-in chief of Josh 24/7 network, brands her an “anti-national”.

Halfway through the opening episode of Season 2, Radha gets bail. She plunges right back into her ongoing tussle with Dipankar, who, on his part, does not budge an inch from his pursuit of eyeballs. Terms like ‘virtue signalling’ and ‘confirmation bias’ are heard as the journalists debate each other.

Radha, young, uncompromising and wedded to a cause, seeks to harness of power of truth as a means to settling scores her bete noire, the man responsible for her stint in prison where she has slighted and tortured for more than a month.

In the process of trying to right the wrongs done to her, Radha appears to blur the line that separates the journalist and the activist in her. It is a tightrope walk. There is a price to pay as Radha opens up several fronts and plunges headlong into the complexities of a multiplicity of stories.

In her own newsroom, Radha has to contend with her mentor and friend, Amina, an old school journalist who swears by objectivity. Those who speak the truth, Amina says, are often isolated. She accuses Radha of allowing her anger to come in the way of her journalism.

Outside of their newsroom stands the towering and pro-establishment Dipankar, who brings a third way of looking at the business of news. TRPs mean the world to him. A self-styled voice of the nation, he signs off his news shows with “Yeh sawaal hai desh ka”.

Rehana Ahmed (Ohlyan), who moves from reporting on Bollywood stars to chasing hardcore news and anchoring shows, represents another face of journalism. From an underprivileged background, work is a daily grind and a necessity. “Deshbhakt marne tak” are the words that she rounds off her shows with.

A single mother struggling to get ahead in life and ensure that her son secures admission in a quality school, Rehana frequently displeases her boss at Josh 24/7 with her impulsive ways. She is taken to task but she carries on regardless.

And then there is Ranjit “Ronnie” Sabharwal (Oberoi), who takes over as the business head of Awaaz Bharati as a representative of a tech giant that is readying itself to roll out thousands of EVs in India. News as an assembly line commodity meant to be bought and consumed like any other product in the market – that supposition represents one of the principal strands of the saga.

The performances in Season 2 keep the newsroom pranks and confrontations cohesive, much like they did in Season 1. Although Sonali Bendre and Jaideep Ahlawat portray two distinct types of reporters with impeccable precision, Shriya Pilgaonkar emerges as the true star of Season 2. She has remarkable conviction as she moves through the whole spectrum of erratic emotions.

Vidya Geetika Ohlyan, who portrays a troubled and frequently beleaguered reporter, skillfully swings between the character’s arc’s highs and lows without skipping a beat. In his role as the elegant corporate tycoon overseeing a journalistic organisation, Akshay Oberoi adeptly conveys the paradoxes and difficulties the man encounters.

Despite a few anomalies, The Broken News S2 doesn’t embellish its narrative.

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