“Guys! Stop this right now!” This is how soon-to-be mommy Anushka Sharma had to express her displeasure with the paparazzi after a news publication photographed her and husband Virat Kohli on their balcony in Mumbai. Sharma, who is expecting her first child later this month, has never been one to mince her words. Resharing a photo posted by the publication on Instagram, she wrote, “Despite requesting the said photographer and the publication, they still continue to invade our privacy. Guys! Stop this right now!”
While this instance of Sharma calling out the invasion of her privacy is laudable, one needs to consider: Should it even come to this? Why must Indian media wait to be admonished by a celebrity reminding them of ethical journalism? By what measure does clicking a celebrity couple on their balcony in their private lives constitute good media ethic?
See Anushka Sharma’s post below:
How Voyueristic Has Media Become?
Indian shutterbugs are renowned for their celebrity obsession that teeters into the zone of yellow journalism. And that is nothing but borderline dangerous. The high-octane excitement around Sharma’s yet-to-be-born baby is understood, since she is only one of the biggest stars of Hindi cinema. But paparazzi, who no doubt adore the actor, find it ethical to showcase their appreciation of her by prowling her social media profiles – and now her home! – in search of the slightest, even unsuspecting, updates of her pregnancy.
Does the media know where to draw the line? When does appreciation of something transgress into voyeurism? And the most pressing question of all: For whom is media sharing this content? Is it not the gossip-hungry Indian audience? Is social media fervently pushing us away from basic sensitivities?
Does Celebrity Status Warrant Invasion Of Privacy?
Another celebrity couple perhaps familiar with this concept is Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor Khan. The Indian media went berserk when their older child Taimur was born. Whenever the kid made a public appearance with his mother or nanny, he was swarmed by cameras and flashlights. So much so that Saif Ali Khan once had to intervene at the airport and tell the paparazzi, “Stop it, the child will go blind!”
It’s hard to miss that Taimur, once hailed as the media darling, has now grown increasingly wary of cameramen surrounding him, and he is often seen screaming at them. Is it really his fault though? And yet, when Kapoor and Khan’s second baby arrives later this year, will Indian media pull the reins on their coverage? Absolutely not!
We often hold our film stars ransom for our invasion of their privacy with the argument that by becoming celebrities, they automatically abdicate their private lives. ‘If we’re paying to watch your films and keep your career going, you owe it to us to share exciting tidbits from your personal life,’ is the general idea. How lopsided is such a thought? No matter how impersonal we think our relationship is with those we watch on screen, does it warrant sneak peeks into their private moments?
Indian Media’s Fever Of Celebrity Gossip
Indian media, especially the broadcast medium, was sustained on celebrity gossip and insider information much through the Sushant Singh Rajput death case. We reported how there was a repeated breach of film stars’ privacy and WhatsApp chats on news channels – like by anchor Navika Kumar. Many, from Rhea Chakraborty to Deepika Padukone and Sara Ali Khan came under the radar of this brand of questionable journalism.
Talking to SheThePeople, several senior journalists had urged the need for Indian media to turn inward and introspect on the standards of journalism it was creating and how far they were from the tenets of reporting. Sharma, through her social media retort, has once again brought the issue to the surface, raising a big question mark on the nuisance our news sense has created.
Views expressed are the author’s own.