BREAKING NEWS! BREAKING NEWS! BREAKING NEWS! Bollywood diva and actress Sridevi has just passed away at the age of 54 in Dubai. This piece of information just shattered millions of hearts and proved that life is so uncertain and fragile that we can’t control anything. The passing away of Sridevi came as a huge shock and Indian media was caught unawares and didn’t know how to report or react to this news.
We live in a social media environment, where every tweet, every Facebook post, every Instagram picture is under the microscope and to top it off if you are a celebrity then your every movement is being judged 24*7, 365 days mercilessly with little regard for the privacy of an individual. The media first reacted very calmly and then out of nowhere conspiracy theories started gaining traction and media as usual became the judge, jury and the executioner. First, they were mentioning Sridevi’s heroics as an actress, being the ‘first female superstar’, flag bearer for equality in Bollywood and talking about her five-decade celebrated career in the industry.
But, times change pretty fast and all of a sudden the very same media was on national television without any iota of proof or evidence were discussing about her alcoholic nature, her cosmetic surgery, her unhappy married life and questioning the autopsy report without even bothering to look at it. Media has every right to question and raise pertinent points, but at least spare a thought for her young grieving daughters (Khushi, Jhanvi), her broken husband (Boney Kapoor) and don’t cast aspersions without credible evidence just to garner and fetch TRPs. Sridevi’s death will be properly investigated by concerned agencies and media cannot decide the cause of death with frivolous and obnoxious speculations and conspiracy theories just to score some brownie points and coming up with sickening headlines to reach out to masses.
Indian media has been down this road before, with Sunanda Pushkar death, Aarushi Talwar murder case and innumerable cases where it played to the gallery and completely ransacked people’s lives and reputations in the garb of ‘Nation wants to know’. The death of Sridevi was unfortunate, to say the least, and it’s not a political result day that you have to give a blow by blow account. Journalism and media have been held in high esteem and unofficially been given the tag of the fourth pillar of the democracy. So, please don’t politicise or trivialize a death just to break breaking news, a person’s life is worth more than a couple of tickers and please treat sensitive matters with great care. Sridevi achieved supernatural things in her life and let’s celebrate her immense contribution to the Hindi film industry and pay our last adieu with honour and respect. RIP ‘Hawa Hawai Girl’.
Post Script: As a young and impressionable journalist, it is very disheartening to see media’s coverage of this whole episode. What happened to the age-old practice of just reporting the facts and not fiction and let the viewer decide what is truth or not. We always rue the fact that our media is not ranked higher in the world forum and now we know the answer. Journalism is about maintaining integrity and ethos and after Sridevi’s death reporting fiasco, Indian media might have to do some serious soul searching and maintain some sort of self-restraint while reporting sensitive matters.