As the public perception of journalists has plummeted, Bollywood has followed suit

Just keep his words and cut the rest. Show it to me when you are done.

This is not an editor but a dreaded gangster, barking orders at investigative journalist Abhishek Dutta in the 2013 novel The Price You Pay by Somnath Batabyal. The novel tells the story of a cub reporter from a small town learning the ropes of crime journalism in Delhi, the seat of power in India. His professional and personal journey meanders through newsrooms, police stations and crime dens, until he inadvertently ends up an agent of the system he was out to investigate. The novel, which will be adapted for the screen by director Ajay Bahl (of BA Pass fame), is yet another instance of the seamier side of journalists and journalism being depicted in India’s popular culture.

It is about how excessive ambition causes the loss of moral fibre in journalism, says Bahl, who regards the story as essentially a “crime thriller”. The film is now in the scripting stage. “It is about how crime reporters get sucked into the system and start making compromises with ethics,” he said.

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