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Witerati | Sridevi coverage: Till death do us upstart

The TRP-driven ‘tamasha’ news riding Sridevi’s demise spelt the death of reportage by drowning of sobriety & sensitivity.

columns Updated: Mar 03, 2018 21:29 IST
Chetna Keer
Theatre artistes pay tribute to late Sridevi in Gurugram
Theatre artistes pay tribute to late Sridevi in Gurugram(PTI )

Superstar Sridevi’s demise for her family and fans is a matter of tragic ‘Till death do us part’, but for Tweeple it translated into a case of ‘Till death do us upstart’. Ironically, the curtain down on the life of a gifted actress of such superb histrionics, saw histrionics and hysterics of another kind staged on TV and Twitter -- Theatre of the Absurd. And how!

English Vinglish: Syntax of Sensationalism

Starring in a real-life twist to the reel ‘English Vinglish’ was none other than the famous ‘Angry Man of Twitter’, Rishi Kapoor. No sooner had ‘tamasha TV’ and Twitter exploded with tidings of Sri’s tragic passing than ‘Chandini’s’ leading man took the lead to teach telly journos a lesson or two in ‘English Vinglish’ on Twitter.

Kapoor’s angst, rightly so, was at the vocabulary spawned by Sri’s departure, since it spelt dramatic departure from the semantics of sensitivity and sobriety. In the context of news channels’ constant references to her “body” being brought from Dubai, Kapoor tweeted, “How has Sridevi all of a sudden become the ‘body’?”

This was the curious case of ‘tamasha TV’ being tutored by tinsel town, ‘Primetime or Noon…Kyoon Junoon…it’s all about English Vinglish!’

Sadma: Death by drowning of sobriety

It was indeed a case of death by drowning. A drowning of the voices of sanity ‘n’ sensitivity, the death of dignified reportage as ‘tamasha TV’ went cacophonous on the coverage of cinema’s czarina.

As most channels did drown decency in decibels of sensationalism, voices of sobriety were few and far between. Telly’s fabled loudmouths disinclined to ‘watered down’ reportage and displaying decibels disposed to drowning the voices of sobriety even in times of grief, had viewers under ‘Sadma’ exclaiming, “Good grief!”

As if Arnab himself isn’t enough to drown the very vitriolic of vocal chords, he pitted on his primetime panel two women lawyers, who engaged in diabolically drowning each other’s voice along with poor Arnab’s lungs stout more than they did legalese spout.

As #SrideviDeathMystery went riding higher on decibel-ism, skepticism and sensationalism, what else was this but a curious case of, “Tere mere hothon pe teekhe teekhe tweet mitwaa!”

Khuda Gawah 2: Rise of the Bathtub

God save Tweeple if a celebrity kicks the bucket leaving a dearth of “gawah” to substantiate the drowning theories floating around. ‘Khuda Gawaah’ hai how the absence of “gawah” saw the rise of a new prop, much in the spirit of ‘Baahubali – The Rising’, around which ‘tamasha TV’s’ Theatre of the Absurd was staged: Bathtub – The Rising.

Never perhaps has the ubiquitous ‘bathtub’ been elevated to exalted status such, smacking of scariness or sexiness much -- since an iconic reel role in ‘Fatal Attraction’, ‘The Seven Year Itch,’ ‘Last Tango In Paris’ or ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ or since a real role in Whitney Houston’s drowning -- as the role it starred in on ‘tamasha TV’. With death by drowning emerging the cause, the ‘bathtub’ was pronto positioned as a primetime prop as TV headlines regurgitated ‘Maut ka Bathtub’ without a pause.

This sounded like a curious case of: “Lagi aaj bathtubs ki phir woh jhari hai …!”

ChaalBaaz 2: Return of conspiracy theorists

Conspiracy theorists, too, had their day out again on ‘tamasha TV’ as there was no end to netas and abhinetas crying foul about Sri’s end.

From Subramanian Swamy to Nasser Abdullah, many a contrarian voice emanated to expound conspiracy theories’ furore, blaming villains like beer to botox, or anorexia to alcohol galore. Suffusing the Sri saga with ‘Lamhe’ a la an Alfred Hitchcock or Sherlock Holmes thriller was none other than expert on intrigue Amar Singh, “She wouldn’t have done what she did…!”

This floating of conspiracy theories Left Right Centre translated into a curious case of: “Mere haathon mein nau nau theorian hain!”

(The author can be contacted at chetnabanerjee@gmail.com)

(The views expressed are personal)