I rubbed my eyes in disbelief. There it was, the 9 pm lead on a nationwide information channel earlier this week – ” SUSHANT SINGH RAJPUT’S NEVER SEEN BEFORE PICTURES ACCESSED”! Photographs of the late actor’s lifeless physique have been splashed throughout the display screen. And with it, the loss of life of tv journalism in India was full. The alleged editors of the channel do not suppose they’ve completed something flawed. Infact, they’re happy with the tabloid protection of this story. Ethics be damned. There is no such thing as a dignity even in loss of life anymore. The story of Sushant Singh Rajput has been the bottom of the low for many Indian information channels. And that is saying so much in an trade that has set a really low bar for itself within the first place. For the final two months, we have now been witness to a vicious media trial the place the ex-girlfriend of the actor, Rhea Chakraborty, has been pronounced responsible on TV and on social media. She has been vilified, slut-shamed, accused of murdering him, drugging him, and stealing his cash. Her household is being harassed by TV reporters who’re parked outdoors her constructing all day and night time. Even a meals supply boy was chased away (apparently, hummus can be being slut-shamed). All of this, in the course of a CBI investigation that was ordered by the Supreme Courtroom.
I do not know if Rhea is responsible of the issues Sushant’s household is accusing her of. I hope the CBI investigation is truthful and will get to backside of the story. If she responsible of something, she ought to face the results. However the media trial and her vilification based mostly on innuendo and conspiracy theories has been shameful. The investigating companies are complicit on this, they’ve selectively leaked components of their probe together with personal WhatsApp chats to pick “information” channels. There are not any editors or journalists right here who’re gatekeepers, who query the propriety of broadcasting personal messages; who won’t air data planted by companies and do their very own verification. No, they will not do, that as a result of they’re vultures. The hideous lapses embody the unethical behaviour of Sushant’s docs who’ve gone public together with his psychological well being points. Physician-patient confidentiality- what’s that?
Whereas the protection has been nauseating, what stood out this week was Rhea Chakraborty’s choice to interrupt her silence. She spoke to a few nationwide information channels, together with NDTV, and gave her facet of the story. After all, on the poisonous social media platforms, the place Rhea has been pronounced responsible and is awaiting full execution, her choice to talk out and defend herself introduced out extra knives in opposition to her. ” It is a PR marketing campaign,” they’re shouting, together with the channels who didn’t get the interview ( however would fortunately have jumped at it if given an opportunity). Journalists in India have fallen to such lows that we now title name colleagues who get interviews that we do not. Within the interviews, Rhea described the abuse she is dealing with, together with rape and loss of life threats. Outspoken ladies on social media face this very often, so I consider her on this.
What additional shocked me was a column on NDTV.COM by creator Shobha De, the place she has dissected Rhea’s interview, her feedback, even her look, furthering the worst sort of misogyny. Ms De writes, “Rhea performed each card within the e book, and went from vamp to sufferer in ten straightforward classes. She discarded the sati-savitri, head-covered, white salwar kameez, grieving girlfriend search for a extra modern and informal girl-next-door look. Her meticulous recreation of any and each turning level of the tragedy, full with dates and an assurance that she will produce proof to substantiate her tales, made one marvel”. Would a person being interviewed in Rhea’s place have his garments so carefully scrutinised? What’s flawed with Rhea remembering dates and incidents so rigorously? Her life is on the road, everybody has handed judgement on her and he or she has a proper to be heard. Keep in mind, she hasn’t been discovered responsible of something but. (The court docket of Twitter does not depend.)
Shobha De additional writes on Rhea’s manner, “All of it acknowledged bloodlessly, with out a flicker of emotion. She did not miss a beat dissing individuals who have been near Sushant, together with his ex, and carried on for an hour or extra, with out tripping up even as soon as.”
This jogged my memory of a number of the media commentary quickly after Aarushi Talwar’s homicide. Her mom, Nupur, appeared on NDTV days later, and was torn aside by those that mentioned she was not ” emotional sufficient”, “did not look unhappy sufficient”; “why did not she cry,” they requested. Grief and ache manifests itself in another way for various folks. One in all my closest pals in school misplaced her father however did not shed a single tear for 2 months. She was in shock and guess what, of us, if somebody is calm and composed, it does not imply they don’t seem to be in ache. By the way, ought to Rhea have simply lapped up the abuse and accusations she is dealing with from Sushant’s household with out hitting again? Why should ladies all the time bear the cross in a relationship? Indian households appear to suppose their sons are always brainwashed by their wives and girlfriends.
I’ve not watched the blow-by-blow account of this story just because I discover it revolting. At a time when India faces an enormous menace from COVID ( we now have the best variety of every day circumstances on the earth); at a time when the financial system is in serious trouble ( by an “act of God” in accordance with the Finance Minister, no much less); at a time when individuals are struggling to get companies again on observe; when China has just about invaded part of Indian territory and refuses to again off – at the moment, the wall to wall, tabloid, grotesque TV protection of the Sushant Singh Rajput story is much more sickening. I’m glad I am not in tv anymore. Imma bounce.
(Nidhi Razdan is Affiliate Professor, Journalism at Harvard and Former Government Editor, NDTV)
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