Sridevi is dead, and so is the self-regulation promise of Indian media

Outrage is not enough; it has to be understood and dealt with, and to some extent, accepted as an inevitable part of a quarter-baked media in a half-baked democracy.


Today’s Paper : Media channels have been condemned for their ‘ghastly’coverage of the death of Bollywood superstar Sridevi as the nation continues to mourn her passing. Television channels have covered the 54-year-old actress’ death relentlessly since she passed away unexpectedly Saturday night in Dubai. This author decodes the “third degree” journalism in India given the TV channels’ tendency to behave like power-drunk interrogators.
It is time to face a simple truth after the outrage over Indian media coverage of the death of Bollywood’s first female superstar, Sridevi: that outrage is not enough; it has to be understood and dealt with, and to some extent, accepted as an inevitable part of a quarter-baked media in a half-baked democracy. | Business Standard
In case you have not watched the prurient TV channels that made a macabre masquerade out of a solemn event (I confess even I did not watch much), the news in brief, elaborately tracked on the Web is this: they conjectured that the death was more than unnatural, hinted towards crimes and/or misdismeanours, and created scenarios and digital constructions that included a wine glass near a bathtub, a reporter crouching inside a bathtub, and detailed forensic measurements that would have been better off in a fictional channel specialising in crime.
But there are those who are outraged by the outrage over the media coverage, which has resulted in predictable and understandable articles that deride the fall of balance, ethics and responsibility in journalism. It is necessary to look beyond this outrage, at least to focus on the belief of the channels and their viewers who think they were indeed doing the right thing in “investigating” the death by drowning in a bathtub in a Dubai hotel.
Typically, celebrity death stories have three angles that editors would like to highlight:
one is the news of the death itself, second is the manner of the death, and the third would be on obituary references, which in the case of achievers like Sridevi are phenomenal. Ideally, the news of the death would be reported in solemn tones, obituary references in laudatory tones and the manner of death in proportion to the detail.
It is in the last that TV channels have triggered outrage, as they virtually abandoned the first two angles and used recent events like her dancing in a wedding the previous week and her cinematic persona to create a construction that smacks of what they call yellow journalism. We could call it “third degree” journalism, given the channels’ tendency to behave like power-drunk interrogators.
Here is the problem: in the eyes of those who did it, obviously with television rating points (TRPs) in mind, what they were doing is an investigative journalism of sorts, given its forensic trappings. However, a culturally forensic look at this forensic journalism reveals a bias for presumption of some crime, a bias towards judging the morality of a woman who may have sipped alcohol, and a bias towards examining choices including marriage to a previously married man, a plastic surgery or eating habits. | Readmore

Boney Kapoor letter: Sridevi, my love, was axis around which our family ran

The funeral, marking the final journey of Sridevi, was one of the largest in Mumbai city in recent times

Sridevi funeral

Sridevi, whose last rites were performed on Wednesday, lived her life with “dignity”, her family said in a statement, while requesting the media to give the family the space to grieve her untimely death. | Today’s Paper

The Bollywood icon’s husband, film producer Boney Kapoor, also released a statement on Wednesday saying the loss was “inexplicable in words”. “To the world she was their Chandni …their Sridevi… but to me she was my love,” the filmmaker wrote in a post that he shared from his wife’s Twitter handle.

On the lines of the statement released by the family, Kapoor also urged media to respect the family’s need to grieve privately.

Earlier on Wednesday, Sridevi was cremated in Vile Parle crematorium with full state honours. Hundreds of thousands of people, including Bollywood celebrities, joined the film star’s family to bid adieu to the first lady superstar of India.

The last rites were performed by the actress’ daughters Janhvi and Khushi before the body was consigned to flames in the electric crematorium with husband Boney Kapoor standing by.

“The past few days have been trying times for us as a family. Today, particularly, has been one of the hardest. We laid to rest a beautiful soul who has gone too soon,” read the statement by the Kapoors, Ayyappan and Marwah families.

The funeral, marking the final journey of Sridevi, was one of the largest in Mumbai city in recent times.

Sridevi’s funeral, in terms of sheer numbers, is estimated to have attracted the highest number of people, ranking on par with the previous biggest funeral processions — of the legendary singer Mohammed Rafi and India’s first superstar Rajesh Khanna.

Sridevi’s mortal remains were flown in a private jet to Mumbai from Dubai where she passed away on Saturday following an accidental drowning in a bathtub in her hotel room.

Maharashtra government accorded full state honours for the funeral of Padma Shri Sridevi — that included draping her body in the national tricolour, elaborate arrangements by the Mumbai Police and a gun salute before the cremation.

Here are the top 10 developments since the death of the legendary actor:
1. Boney’s emotional letter: Hours after Sridevi was cremated, Boney Kapoor shared a post from her Twitter account where he remembered her as the love of his life. “Losing a friend, wife and mother of your two daughters is a loss inexplicable in words… I am blessed to have the support and love of Arjun and Anshula, who have been such pillars of strength for myself, Khushi and Janhvi. Together, as a family we have tried to face this unbearable loss,” he wrote.

Click here to read → Boney Kapoor letter