Maharashtra was burning; an intra-country exodus of humanity was taking place there, with North Indians fleeing on any possible mode of transport. All this, while all that our news channels were repeatedly showing were clips of Rakhi Sawant slapping her, now erstwhile, boyfriend. The only other piece of news that could manage to compete for airtime was the marriage of Sanjay Dutt to his ‘good friend’ Manyata. Before that, we had an upclose and personal view of Saif Ali Khan’s tattooed left arm, zoomed in enough that I could count the number of moles on his arm. In a not-so-recent India-Australia match, our media was more interested in the direction of a blushing Dhoni’s gaze (apparently fixed at Deepika Padukone) than in the outcome of the match. Now, at this point in the article, all of you will be nodding your heads and lamenting the death of ‘real’ journalism. However, the truth is that most of us are addicted to masala. Then why blame the media?
A Mika smooching a Rakhi Sawant creates a furor, however, a zillion other cases of sexual harassment are not even given a second glance (you see they are too bland for our zing addicted taste). The newspapers everyday are flooded with headlines like ‘Brangelina Heading for Splits Ville’ or nearer home, ‘Mallika Sherawat’s Secret Sexual Fantasy ’. Some of you might argue that this is the price one has to pay for being in the limelight. Fair enough but,
How must it feel like to have bits of your private life like sprawled all over next morning’s newspapers?
How must it feel like to not even be able to use the restroom in a restaurant without the flashbulbs blinding you?
How must it feel to not even be able to mourn the death of your mother without paparazzi jostling for a quick sound byte?
You might say that curiosity is a basic human trait. But let it be remembered that it was this curiosity which cost princess Diana her life way back in 1997. The car accident, which caused her death, happened partly because of the paparazzi tailing her.
These people have been elevated by us to the status of demi-gods. But behind all the glam, glitz and layers of make-up, they are human beings like you and me and they also are susceptible to mistakes. We want them to live their reel life in real life too and when they fail to live the perfect life we expect them to, we derive sadistic pleasure in denouncing them.
We talk about media being the fourth pillar of democracy. But with our fundamental right to freedom of expression, also comes our duty to use this right responsibly. News is news only when it has some kind of a direct effect on the people. I don’t see how Aamir Khan having a love child or what Aishwarya Rai Bachchan was wearing for her first karvachauth has any informative value to the common man. According to me, a law should be brought into effect which defines the thin line between the right to freedom of expression and invasion of privacy. If this law does materialize, then the breaking news might stop being about who slept with whom, and be more about what India is and what it should be. Until then, I guess prime-time news will be just an extension of Ekta Kapoor’s close to ground-reality K soaps.
I chose a title for my article which has no relevance to my line of thought. But then, it was just to drive home my point; most of you read this article just because of its sensational headline, isn’t it?
[Image by : http://www.flickr.com/photos/evoke/22941154/]