The news of her demise due to cardiac arrest and the social media posts which called out her lifestyle for her death have long faded away. Instead, there are speculations over what circumstances led to Sridevi’s accidental drowning. Overnight the speculative journalism took an appalling turn, as news channels showed no empathy in covering up the said course of events.
Celebrities and common folks took to Twitter to criticise how news channels were robbing the late superstar of a dignified departure from the world.
Without any official statement from the immediate family or any overseas official authorities, the Kangaroos of New-India have been indulging in sensationalism and perverse TRP garnering techniques over a family’s personal grief. #RIPSridevi #KangarooCourts @TimesNow @republic
— Vikrant Massey (@masseysahib) February 26, 2018
Have some shame @abpnewstv @aajtak @TimesNow
Such cruel parasitic drivel! Using the passing of one of Indian cinema’s greatest artists to shamelessly and callously push ur own TRPs.. unethical and vomit worthy really!!! https://t.co/qnhtyBSJVT
— Swara Bhasker (@ReallySwara) February 26, 2018
C'mon, just give them the goddamn Pulitzer already! pic.twitter.com/aU8vBaL0fI
— Karnika (@KarnikaKohli) February 26, 2018
Dear Indian news channels, show a little tact. Parasites. #Sridevi
— Vir Das (@thevirdas) February 26, 2018
Many also used the hashtag #NewsKiMaut to give the news channels a taste of their own medicine
The only answer to these #Sridevi hideous hashtags on news tv tonight is one of our own : #NewsKiMaut. Forget a bathtub; a drain pipe will do for this gutter level rubbish. Ashamed to be affiliated with this. Relieved to not be on air in this present environment
— barkha dutt (@BDUTT) February 26, 2018
Journalism Has Stooped To A New Low Over The TRP Hungry Reporting Of #SrideviDeathMystery. #RIPJournalism 🙏#NewsKiMaut #Sridevi pic.twitter.com/mYarpxt1zb
— Sir Jadeja fan (@SirJadeja) February 26, 2018
I'm afraid that in a bid to beat the rest, some anchor might just decide to wear Sridevi's face, fill up a bath up, get drunk, fall, drown and die on camera while the newsroom plays it LIVE #NewsKiMaut
— Ruhi Rizvi (@RuhiRizvi) February 26, 2018
It isn’t the first-time news channels have shown insensitivity in news coverage. But with this, they hit the rock bottom.
Judgemental remarks on alcoholism and ‘Maut Ka Bathtub’
The basic piece of information which came from Dubai was a photograph of the late actor’s forensic report, which stated the cause of death as ‘accidental drowning’. It was also reported that traces of alcohol were found in her blood. The earlier reports, which themselves are contradictory, said that she was found by her husband/hotel staff lying unresponsive in/outside the bathtub. Indian media put two and two together, and things just snowballed from there.
There was a debate over whether Sridevi was an alcoholic or not. Had she taken to alcohol due to fading stardom? Or because of some personal or familial feud? There was a level of disbelief among many that she might have consumed alcohol. Politicians and former associates came forward to give her a character certificate.
By nightfall, the graphic designers hired by the news channels were ready to blow our heads away. Anchors stood in or around graphically designed images of bathrooms, bathtubs, the deceased lady lying in the bathtub. And also, an image where the lady is lying in the bathtub, while her husband watches over.
This is the rock-bottom for Indian news channels
There is investigative journalism. There is sensational journalism. And then there is Indian television. For me, this is as bad as it can be. There was a time when their antiques were amusing. But last night, news reporting slipped into a dark abyss of crassness and insensitivity. It will take deep introspection and remodeling from base level for them, to gain back the respect they lost.
What is it that pushed television news to resort to such obtuse coverage about Sridevi’s death? Whether it is pressure to be relevant 24 hours a day or to garner higher TRP and eyeballs than the rivals, it is not justified.
They are robbing a dead person, a revered superstar nonetheless, of dignity in her death, while it is still a struggle to give her the last rights.
It is agreeable that the circumstances of her death are shocking. Her family and her fans all want closure. We all want to know how we lost Sridevi. That is why there is a thorough investigation going on in Dubai. Let them complete their investigation and hand over the body to her family. The mystery of her death can wait till her last rights are performed, and her fans and family pay their last respect to her.
What’s the point in setting up panels of experts and showing graphics to explain to the viewers how she died, when the information at hand is incomplete? But the news channels seem to show no shame or guilt at their actions. This is not how I want to remember Sridevi, with her last moments so vulgarly put up on display. The image of her drinking alcohol or lying in a bathtub or wearing a bathrobe. These images will stay. What hurts the most is that these vacuous images are choreographed and untrue. Yet they have managed to overshadow the true ones we want to fondly remember Sridevi by. All courtesy our television news channels.
As Farhan Akhtar’s tweet sums it up perfectly:
There’s no bottom in the barrel of the graceless.
— Farhan Akhtar (@FarOutAkhtar) February 26, 2018
Also Read : Sridevi ‘Accidentally Drowned’ In Hotel Bathtub: Forensic Report
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.