Since he won a Bafta last night, now might be a good time to note how strange I find Romesh Ranganathan’s programs. I’m quite a fan of travelogues, and I’ve been thinking about writing something about Ranganathan for a while. I find his style very puzzling indeed. Ordinarily, presenters of such television shows are framed as if they are part of the film crew: they talk directly into the camera, telling the viewer what is going on, where they are etc, which is then complemented by their off camera narration.
Ranganathan, by contrast, talks to the supposed crew rather than the camera, asking questions etc. It’s as if he wants to give the impression of a kind of naiveté, like he’s just some ordinary guy who just happens to have a film crew following him around. He positions himself as separate from the guys making the film, as if he doesn’t want to be seen as part of them. He seems to want to set himself apart from the presenters of other such shows, perhaps in order to give himself the appearance of a regular, naive bloke in contrast to the more conventional, authoritative tone of presenters like Michael Palin. This strikes me as very disingenuous, especially given we hear Ranganathan’s voice on the voiceover, breaking the illusion. I don’t know why, but this kind of trickery irritates me, as it feels like Ranganathan is trying to manipulate the audience by trying to appear more naive than he is. The way in which he tries to portray himself as a sort of wisecracking everyman distanced from the media apparatus yet still obviously being part of it, feels too insincere to me, and frankly I find it irritating. I wonder whether anyone else has noted this strange contradictory relationship to the camera Ranganathan has.