Before I wrote my last post raising questions about the genuineness of the Varun Gandhi videos, I had a long back-and-forth with Girish Shahane of Shoot First, Mumble Later. My last two comments there are awaiting moderation, so I figured I can publish my last one here, as it got detailed enough to be a post by itself. Here goes (all the text in italics is Girish’s):
Girish, I have raised some questions about the genuineness of the videos in my post here. I am looking for somebody to answer the seven questions I have asked there about the videos. But, here are my answers, phrase-by-phrase, to your above comment.
So I’m the conspiracy theorist now . You are the chaps who are saying — without any technical knowledge;
Without any technical knowledge? Well, you don’t need to be a professional cinematographer to point out some of the glaring inconsistencies in the videos. In your post you are saying that “At the very least it would require dozens of people working for weeks with a budget of tens of lakhs to animate each frame (there are twenty five per second in the format used in India).” I think you are talking about the pre-digital era, when video was shot on film and then people worked on it frame-by-frame. I am not saying this video was generated from scratch. In the case of digital media, if you want to delete portions of a word or sentence, it just means moving the cursor over a timeline and deleting the portion. The visuals – and corresponding lip movements go with it. To add audio, you rely on long shots. This is what seems to have been done here. It is not rocket science.
without any reply to the technical points I have raised;
I did give a reply to your “technical” points. See above, if any was missing.
without any evidence provided of such doctoring having happened in the past and passed of as true;
Do you mean that video doctoring has never been done in history? Or never passed as true? For the first question, all you need to do is search Google. Videos have been doctored in the past and for some time duped people. For the second question, this one has not really passed any impartial test of being true, yet. There are too many unanswered questions, and all the people who are accepting it as true are politically motivated or politically pressured, or otherwise using preconceived notions. So far it has been “passed off as true”, but any “passing as true” is awaited.
without any evidence that this footage is doctored;
I don’t have any clear evidence that it is doctored but I have my doubts which I have expressed. There is no evidence that it is genuine, either. So, I am raising my questions. One thing that will convince me of its genuinity is at least one channel claiming ownership of the footage, and even better, two channels showing the same footage from different angles. Some eyewitnesses appearing on TV would be icing on the cake. So far, we have only seen footage from one anonymous source, and at least one report saying it is not true.
without any understanding of the context of Varun’s utterances;
I have a clear understanding of the context of Varun’s utterances.
without any response to my observation that Varun’s lip movements change when he speaks in a more ‘rural’ accent, showing he is deliberately trying out a ‘dehati’ style of speaking;
I did not notice that observation of yours (not in this post) or I would have responded to it. Since you cannot even see his lip movements in that portion of the video, I wonder how you discern a change in his lip movements and conclude that he is “trying a dehati accent”. It is all a matter of pre-conceived notions.
without any attention to the many offensive things he says in close-up when it is clearly his voice;
The things that he says in close-ups when it is clearly his voice is pro-Hindu rhetoric that BJP uses all the time. I understand that you have an issue with that, but speaking in favor of Hindus (or Muslims, or Sikhs, or Christians) has not been outlawed in India, yet. BJP is a right wing party, so don’t vote for it. But his saying those things in close ups does not mean he will only say worse things in long shots. That would be possible if he asked the cameraman to take long shots when he said those dreadful things.
without any addressing of the discrepancy between his assertion that the voice on tape is not his at all, and your contention that a few words in it are not his voice;
He is not saying that the whole tape is not his voice, although in some cases he is not making this crystal clear. He is saying repeatedly that he spoke in favor of Hindus, and defends it.
without any acknowledgment of his false assertion before the court that he possesses a degree from SOAS —
First of all, this has nothing to do with the video footage being genuine, which is the main topic of my discussion. I am no apologist for all of Varun Gandhi. His perjury about degrees will depend on what exact language he used in his court petition about his education. LSE has said he was an external student, and SOAS has said that he withdrew from the course. So he can get away with saying he “passed LSE and attended SOAS”. But that is beside the point here. One crime does not necessarily relate to another. Smoking pot doesn’t necessarily make you a murderer. I hear all of the Gandhi family has lied about their degrees, and none has gone to jail. I can see the Indian media going gaga over Sonia-Rahul-Priyanka everyday.
you are the chaps who are saying without any of these things that the material is doctored in a conspiracy against Varun Gandhi.
Obviously not “without any of these things”.
Let’s get straight who the conspiracy theorists are, I’m not falling for those rhetorical manoeuvres. As far as the Express transcripts not making sense goes, that is further proof of the authenticity of the tapes. Varun Gandhi is not a natural speaker of Hindi. That’s why he goes from ‘behen’ to ‘bitiya’ and so on. It’s not like he’s actually claiming a sister. Transcripts are always discontinuous and full of garbled grammar: that’s the way individuals actually speak. When material is doctored, those doing the tampering fail to copy the patterns of actual human speech and tend to substitute fully formed grammatically correct sentences. It is one of the reasons why tampered footage invariably has a false ring to it.
For you the Express transcripts not making sense may be proof of the video being genuine, but I don’t think it will pass any unbiased muster. Do you mean all fully formed grammatically correct sentences have more chances of being tempered with? It all depends upon the technical capability of the video makers, and it does not appear to have been very high.
In the ‘katua’ bit, while it is true that Varun’s mouth may not be perfectly visible at that moment,
Thanks for acknowledging that, after saying in the post that “the words we heard synchronised perfectly with his lip movements”. Actually his mouth is not visible in any of the more objectionable passages, where he “calls” Muslims by name. Yes, the place where he says “agar kisi galat tatva ke aadmi ne.. hindu ke upar hath uthaya… uska hath kaat dunga” there is no doubt it is his words.
there is not enough time for two or three words in that space. Try and dub the same footage in exactly the same way and say ‘vote katwane wale’ in the beeped frames and you’ll understand what I mean. These are technical matters that you obviously do not understand, instead barking up the wrong tree with your talk of accents.
Read my reply to the first paragraph. If Varun said “vote katwane wale”, as he says he did, you can take that and identify the extra frames in the video containing the unwanted syllables, using the timeline, delete the video and audio you want to get rid of, and “vote katwane wale” will become “katwa” or “katwe”. The video and audio will perfectly match. You don’t need to use longer video and shorter audio, or vice versa. I assume you understand what I am saying. I do not know if that is what has exactly been done, but the quality of video and absence of any supporting evidence keeps that possibility alive. And again, it doesn’t need experts to do this. Even I can do this, without any knowledge of technical matters.
As far as Varun’s jailing goes, let me repeat what I said before, and what none of you have answered: why did he not take the anticipatory bail available to him? Why did he go in procession to jail with thousands of supporters making himself out to be a martyr while assuming he’d spend just two days in custody? He played a political game, under the instructions of his BJP masters, and Mayawati turned the tables on them, simple.
Again, that has nothing to do with the topic of my dispute about the video, but I believe his bail was expiring and his request to quash the FIR had been refused. His public tamasha was politics and that is what politicians do. They don’t get slapped with NSA for that, but I am not sure you are supporting NSA here, so let us not discuss that.