Why the media should let Sridevi Rest In Peace...

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I went to say goodbye to Sridevi yesterday as she lay in state at the Celebration Sports Club in Lokhandwala. And also sorry. Goodbye, because she was a damned fine actress; and while Bollywood may have its Priyankas, Deepikas, Anushkas and Katrinas, we won’t have our Sridevi. I don’t know how much in terms of her talent we will miss, because Sridevi was not really coming back to Bollywood, she made just two films in the last five years. And the current lot of actresses mentioned above, with the Saras, Janhvis and Ananyas of GenNext, are good to keep us entertained for the next two decades at least.

Now dog does not eat dog. Yet the Internet is full of scathing articles by holier-than-thou journalists accusing others in the media of being voyeuristic, sadistic and even ghoulish in their coverage of the Dubai tragedy.

But it was nice having her around. She brought a graceful distinction to Bollywood just by being there. Just like Sachin Tendulkar still does to Indian cricket, the wonder and magic of Virat Kohli notwithstanding. I also went to say sorry to the lovely actress because I felt that we, in the media, failed Sridevi in our reporting of her death.

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Now dog does not eat dog. Yet the Internet is full of scathing articles by holier-than-thou journalists accusing others in the media of being voyeuristic, sadistic and even ghoulish in their coverage of the Dubai tragedy. I am not about to take sides. But I will say this. The media has a job to do. And just like in any other occupation, there are good journalists and bad, and a death can be reported with great pathos or very insensitively. It’s up to the editor of that newspaper, that TV channel, that online portal, that radio station, to decide whether the reportage should be sensational or subtle. Factual or fallacious.

The importance of a news story is measured by how much space it gets in column centimetres on Page 1 of a national daily or seconds on prime time TV. If the story bleeds it leads. I know all this. I am a veteran newsman. But I also remember that nobody taught me to be downright hurtful, totally inaccurate, wildly speculative, meaningfully accusatory and intentionally defamatory in my writing even if I had good reason to be. Sadly, all these virtues were forgotten in the mad rush to be one up on the other media in the exposure given to Sridevi’s death. She was somebody’s wife, mother, daughter, and those people were following the news, because they were as much in the dark about what really happened to Sridevi as you and I were.

While Bollywood may have its Priyankas, Deepikas, Anushkas and Katrinas, we won’t have our Sridevi.

So why go to town with conjecture before the truth or official version was out? Why not be true to the profession and remember that your job is to inform and not try and influence? Who made you judge, jury and executioner here? I have no answers. I just had an apology to make. So I said sorry to Sridevi as I said goodbye. I still don’t know what happened to her in Dubai. That’s the truth. And what I don’t know I cannot tell my readers. It’s as simple as that. Why not let her Rest in Peace in the meanwhile?

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