On Sunday, Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput passed away. The Mumbai police has said that the actor appears to have committed suicide, even as they added that investigations were underway.
But even as hundreds of condolence messages poured in from all quarters, there were news reports that opted to focus on the macabre. Rather than being sensitive to the fact that someone had passed away some media organisations opted to, among other things, wonder repeatedly why he had committed suicide, made bad puns and even went after his family in Patna.
Now, we're not saying that this was a topic that should not have been covered. But considering the fact that this was a time of grief, cricket puns about how his had faced a "hit wicket" were perhaps unnecessary. Nor was in necessary -- except for the sake of sensationalism -- to show sensitive photos of the deceased actor on national television.
Speaking about Rajput's death and the news coverage, Harsha Bhogle on Monday said that he was "disturbed".
"A young man, seemingly successful, with a life seen to be aspirational, chooses to end it. The moments before must have been so saturated with sadness and despair. As a father, those thoughts were like a punch in the stomach," he said.
Bhogle said that while he did not normally watch news on the television, he had caught some of the reportage in this particular case. He added that he had also sceengrabs of some of the content put out by news channels. In a long Facebook post he wondered whether such scribes could sleep well at night.
"Or did you get up in the middle of the night, quivering with guilt, asking yourself how you could have been so cruel, so heartless, so devoid of compassion and decency? he asked.
"I have a couple of thoughts for those that wrote the lines, for those that approved them as worthy of going on air, for those that own these channels," he wrote.
Bhogle went on to wonder what drove some people to be like this.
"What causes you to put aside your normal decent self and wear this mask, this suit of heartlessness? Is this what the profession makes you, demands of you?" he asked.
But if this was indeed the case, this poses a far more deep-seated problem. As Bhogle put it, the "sane heads in the industry" should come together to worry about and address the "rot within". He also wondered if the driving need to be "first" and to make your platform visible and your voice heard had forced the industry's hand, and they were now "embracing this".
"What will tomorrow look like if you slept well last night? I am only a peripheral figure within the industry but this is an appeal to everyone. End this kind of reportage. Please," he urged.