Indian Media Turned Sushant Singh Rajput’s Death Into a Circus. We, the Viewers, Are to Blame

Social Commentary

Indian Media Turned Sushant Singh Rajput’s Death Into a Circus. We, the Viewers, Are to Blame

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

The tragic death of Sushant Singh Rajput has stirred the country, which has taken to social media to pay tribute to his short but successful career. However, it seems that for some sections of the media, the death seemed to be just another way to increase TRPs.

The pushy enthusiasm with which a couple of news channels have covered the suicide has drawn the ire of several online observers, with clips on Twitter now revealing how his family was harassed in their Patna home by reporters, just hours after his death.

While a few news channels were accused of reporting unnecessary details about the incident — such as the colour of the cloth around the actor’s neck — reporters from two news channels, ABP and AajTak, were seen harassing members of his family who were clearly too distressed to comment.

One channel, NewsNation, flashed a picture of Rajput lying dead on his bed, an image that was later shared widely on WhatsApp. Others, such as Zee News, resorted to tone-deaf wordplay. “Filmon ka Dhoni asal zindagi mein out kaise,” the channel asked.

Actor Anushka Sharma was among those who put out an appeal to the media to be more sensitive towards Sushant’s family and friends.

The visuals released by a news channel of reporters pressing the actor’s father and uncle for comment, were termed by some as a new low for journalism.

Actor and television presenter Gaurav Kapur asked if the media had any humanity left, and called news channels “bottom feeding parasites.”

One journalist noted that when the actor’s father was too overwhelmed to speak to reporters anymore, an anchor goaded their reporters into questioning his sister. “Despicable, disgraceful behaviour,” she called it.

Another journalist said the anchor had made someone’s “personal agony a joke”.

Umar Khalid said the reporting proved once again that the TV media was “incorrigible”.

A few others took to social media to call out “blind items”, or gossip-based stories in which the identities of the people being spoken about are generally not revealed.

While some urged the media to report on suicides with more sensitivity in general.

But is only the media to be blamed? Isn’t the incessant voyeurism and sensationalism a reflection of what people actually want?

It’s barely been a day since the tragic news was reported, but already a number of self-proclaimed experts online have chimed in with speculation on why the actor would have taken his own life. Many have also reportedly shared a photograph of the actor at the time of his death, drawing the ire of the Maharashtra cyber cell, among others.

Director Milap Zhaveri asked those sharing the pictures to show some humanity.

As did actor Maniesh Paul:

The news of the actor’s untimely death is no doubt shocking. But the fact that sections of the media have forgotten about basic ethics when reporting is making it a lot worse. The actor’s family — as a statement issued by them on Sunday states — deserves their privacy now more than ever.