The Indian media plummeted to a new nadir in wake of the revoltingly voyeuristic and obnoxiously insensitive reporting following the tragic and untimely death of Sridevi, one of the most acclaimed, adored and awe-inspiring actors to have ever graced the silver screen in the country. When news initially filtered in from Dubai about the shocking demise of the evergreen icon the cause of death was attributed to a massive cardiac arrest. It was the subsequent developments that set the rumour bells ringing in India unleashing a tawdry bunch of scurrilous peddlers of surmises and unscrupulous purveyors of conjectures. News that Sridevi had accidentally drowned in a bathtub and traces of alcohol were found in her blood was enough to send the media at home into an orgasmic frenzy of ingenious wild goose chases and inexplicable witch-hunting.
Scraping the rock bottom of immorality and insensitivity, the reporting ranged from the banal to the bewildering. Competing with each other for inside scoops and sensational revelations, the television channels covered themselves in repulsive cloaks of ignominy by preying on what has to be the most profound and poignant facet of the cycle of life – death – all in the name of enhancing and embellishing their damned TRP ratings! Even hungry vultures circling bits of rotten carrion would have been put to shame by the acts of this unprincipled lot. As an entire nation already mired in grief, was shocked by the antiques of the media, the newscasters were just beginning to warm up. The reporting which initially started with a trickle of prosaic tidbits now assumed a crescendo of innuendos, insinuations and incriminations. Veiled suggestions of umpteen number of cosmetic surgeries, disguised indications of the perils of alcohol usage (tempered by undisguised Caveats), nauseating references to a possible murder arising out of a simmering marital discord ruled the roost as imbeciles and idiots took over and tarnished one of the most significant, noble and judicious of all professions. As tenets of unbiased reporting and impartial conveying of news fell by the wayside, the grief stricken family of Sridevi was brutally exposed to a barrage of incredulous allusions directed against a mother and a wife. A woman was being deprived of her rightful degree of dignity and respect even as she had breathed her last.
While one reporter astoundingly lay horizontal in a bathtub while waxing eloquent about the possible manner of Sridevi’s demise (by the way the stupid homo sapien did not drown as he completed his embarrassing routine), yet another held a constipated look while a white bathtub with the words “Maut ki Bathtub” (“Bathtub of Death”) was positioned/photoshopped/deposited/ behind him just underneath a black and white picture of the late actor.
On another television channel a panel of pompous looking and even more pompous sounding pitiful collection of self-proclaimed experts in the field of cosmetic surgery and has been actors held forth on conjured conspiracy theories and concocted cacophony of crass logic. Meanwhile the whole world watched gasping in disbelief at the pathetic circus that was the Indian Media.
Not to be left behind and eager to garner their fifteen minutes of fame, celebrities & politicians also jumped into the cesspool of balderdash and malarkey. The notorious Ram Gopal Varma, with unsolicited alacrity penned an open “Love Letter” to the fans of Sridevi, prising open her personal life to the unwarranted scrutiny of all who may care to read the scandalous letter. He also compared the departed star’s life to that of a ‘caged bird’. In an instant people rushed forward to provide information regarding the alcoholic predilections of Sridevi (or the lack of it) – “She was only a wine drinker like me and not one imbibing hard liquor” stated one politician of dubious credentials.
Asinine and sadistic jokes flooded Whatsapp Groups and “bathtub journalists” found able allies in poor “bathroom humour”. Disgusting caricatures of husbands sitting atop a makeshift ladder with a life jacket/float in hand while wives were bathing in a tub, did the rounds seemingly to elicit a guffaw or two. All civic, ethical and professional principles were being compromised at the altar of incoherence and insanity.
As the life of a ferociously private and reclusive celebrity was being torn open, tarnished and tainted, the Dubai police finally concluded their investigations which culminated in affirming the fact that Sridevi’s death was an accidental case of drowning. While this temporarily shut the motor mouths of uncouth morons and dullards, giving the opportunity to a plethora of fans to grieve in peace and quiet, a damage of irreversible proportions was already done. But the damage was caused neither to the phenomenally graceful Sridevi nor to the bereaved. On the contrary a few untrammeled reprobates with their reprehensible behavior had destroyed a noble fraternity.
In her penultimate movie “English Vinglish”, a paean to women of substance, the climax has Sridevi giving a wedding speech in halting but respectable English (a language which she learns surreptitiously without the knowledge of her condescending family), subsequent to which her English tutor acclaims with undisguised glee that not only has she learnt the language but has attained distinction! In life as well as in death, Sridevi distinguished herself professionally as well as personally.
Alas the same could not be said of the Indian media which died a painful death while Sridevi continues to be a star whose time is forever!