Amita Malik

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Amita Malik
Amita Malik BITS 1983.jpg
Amita Malik Chief Guest at OASIS (CUSAT), 1983
Born 1921
Guwahati, Assam, India
Died (2009-02-20)20 February 2009 (age 87)
New Delhi, India
Nationality Indian
Occupation Film and television critic

Amita Malik (Bengali: অমিতা মালিক; Hindi: अमिता मलिक; 1921 – 20 February 2009) was an Indian media critic. She was described by Time magazine as India's "most prominent film and television critic",[1] dubbed the "first lady of Indian media" and "India's best known cinema commentator".[2] She began her career at All India Radio, Lucknow in 1944 and later wrote for many print publications including The Statesman, The Times of India, the Indian Express and Pioneer.[3] She died of leukaemia at the age of 87 in Kailash Hospital near South Delhi on 20 February 2009.[4]


Malik was born into a Bengali family in Guwahati, Assam, British India. When Amita was 21 days old, the car she was travelling in collided with another car in which Mahatma Gandhi was sitting. Gandhiji was greatly concerned that the little one was unhurt.[5] The very first film she saw in her life was The Gold Rush by Charlie Chaplin screened by the nuns of Loreto Convent Shillong.[6]


She joined All India Radio at Lucknow at a salary of a hundred rupees a month to "present the weekly programme of lunch hour European music on Saturdays".[7] In 1944 she formally applied for the advertised post of programme assistant and was posted to All India Radio's Delhi station.[8] She could boast of being the only Indian film critic to interview many important film celebrities and directors such as Ingmar Bergman and Marlon Brando.[9]

Amita Malik was the first reporter to interview Indira Gandhi when she unexpectedly first became Prime Minister of India[10] after Lal Bahadur Shastri's death in Tashkent.

Fellowship to study in Canada[edit]

She was awarded the first fellowship of the Canadian Women's Press Club which arranged accommodation for her with their members for 10 months in 1960.[11] She broke the story of Apartheid in the United Nations in her interview with Canadian Prime Minister Diefenbaker in 1960.[12]

Campaign against foreigners in saris[edit]

In 1960 Columnist Amita Malik launched a cutting campaign against foreigners in saris.

"If there is anything uglier than an Indian matron in bulging jeans," she snapped, "it is a white woman, tall, angular and with straw-colored hair, wearing a Dacca sari. Foreign wives fondly imagine that they look beautiful in saris, when they would look miles better in gingham."[13]

Removal of restrictions on foreign press during Emergency[edit]

Amita Malik was responsible for getting the censorship curbs on foreign media during the Indian Emergency lifted.

"During emergency, Malik met Gandhi at her office in South Block. '`What do you think of the present state of the media in India," the Prime Minister asked.
'Do you want me to be frank or do you want me to be polite? "Of course, I want you to be frank," the Prime Minister told Malik.'`I do not know what came over me but I immediately launched into a graphic description of the state of terror which was then prevailing in the media..."
'I don't want to sound like a kingmaker, but it is a fact that the very next day the curbs on the foreign press were lifted,"Malik claims."[14]

Campaigns against misuse of media[edit]

In 1989 she launched an outspoken campaign against the misuse of India's state owned media which had been converted into the private organ of the Indian National Congress party to promote Rajiv Gandhi.[15] [16]

Feud with Khushwant Singh[edit]

Amita enjoyed a healthy feud with Khushwant Singh. In an interview, Singh said that Malik had once written he was the worst dressed man she had ever known. He confessed it was the only time he genuinely agreed with her.[17]

Syndicated column (Sight and Sound)[edit]

Fed up with kow-towing to India's notoriously parsimonious press barons, Amita resolved never to keep her eggs in one basket. Her syndicated column "Sight and Sound" has been published in virtually every leading Indian newspaper at various times. Her column was religiously read by generations of Television news reader for Amita's biting sartorial observations on them. At the same time she strongly defended AIR and Doordarshan's underpaid staff who worked under political and bureaucratic pressure.

Memorable quotes from Sight and Sound[edit]

  1. "One can certainly give credit to Doordarshan for one thing: It keeps whatever good programmes it has as secret as possible."[18]
  2. "Much as I appreciate Barkha Dutt's energy and enthusiasm, sometimes I get disturbed by her popping up all too frequently here, there and everywhere."[19]
  3. "The programme called Cook Na Kaho was hosted by Upen Patel and what Patel was doing revolted me. Like most Indians I believe in jootha, that is, not polluting food personally with fingers or spoon when it is meant for all. Not for any religious sentiments but because it is unhygienic and can spread infection. What Patel was doing was putting a fork into the ice-cream, licking it and putting it back into the ice-cream. Sorry Patel, but I would not eat your food after that."[20]


Amita, no holds barred: An autobiography Hardcover – January 1, 1999


1. Kamal Kumari National Award

2. B.D.Goenka Award in Journalism 1992

3. Hony. Fellowship of International Police Association



  1. ^ "Worldwide Wave – Why is the Entire Planet Baywatching? Why Not? It's Sexy, Wholesome Fun. Yes, Really". Time. 25 September 1995. Archived from the original on 17 August 2000. Retrieved 31 July 2017. 
  2. ^ New Straits Times, Singapore, 16 May 1991
  3. ^ "Amita Malik, RIP". Archived from the original on 6 October 2011. Retrieved 26 October 2012. 
  4. ^ [1] Archived 27 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ pg.3/4 "Amita No Holds Barred" ISBN 81-7223-351-5
  6. ^ pg. 13 "Amita No Holds Barred" ISBN 81-7223-351-5
  7. ^ pg. 63 "Amita No Holds Barred" ISBN 81-7223-351-5
  8. ^ pg. 77 "Amita No Holds Barred" ISBN 81-7223-351-5
  9. ^ "Lonely death for a trailblazer – Analysis – DNA". 26 February 2009. Retrieved 26 October 2012. 
  10. ^ "Amita no holds barred" – pages 180/181
  11. ^ The Montreal Gazette, 1 October 1960,,170269&dq=amita-malik&hl=en
  12. ^ The Montreal Gazette, pg 1, 12 October 1960
  13. ^ Time Magazine. 5, Sept 1960.,9171,826556,00.html
  14. ^ "Indira and Malik – A no holds barred encounter". 31 May 1999. Retrieved 26 October 2012. 
  15. ^ The New York Times. 23, June 1989.
  16. ^ The Age, 6 July 1989,4963981
  17. ^ "A Nice Man to Know". The Indian Express. 7 August 1998. Retrieved 8 February 2018. 
  18. ^ "The Tribune, Chandigarh, India – Arts Tribune". 1 December 2000. Retrieved 26 October 2012. 
  19. ^ "The Tribune – Magazine section – Saturday Extra". 22 October 2005. Retrieved 26 October 2012. 
  20. ^ "The Tribune – Magazine section – Saturday Extra – Sight & Sound". 22 January 2005. Retrieved 26 October 2012. 

External links[edit]