Family, friends, and fans of Sridevi, Indian cinema’s legendary actress, are mourning her untimely demise. She passed away on Feb 24, 2018, while attending her nephew Mohit Marwah’s wedding in Dubai. Initial reports suggested she died of a cardiac arrest. However, based on the most recent information released by the Dubai Police, the actress died due to accidentally drowning in the bathtub of her hotel. Now, the Indian news channels have taken it upon themselves to seemingly figure out the semantics behind her death.

The Indian media is unraveling for the sake of ratings and it’s beyond desperate. It’s appalling to see how low news channels are going in the name of capturing headlines for the iconic actress.

Sridevi appeared in over 300 movies. She rose to fame in the 80s and 90s with pioneering roles in movies like “Mr. India,” “Chaalbaaz,” “Sadma,” “Chandini.” Her successful comeback on-screen with 2012’s “English Vinglish,” followed by last year’s gritty “Mom,” was proof of her never-ending talent. She was a landmark heroine at a time when it was mostly male actors who dominated the Indian film industry. Instead of honoring her work and legacy, Indian news channels are ripping apart details of her death in a manner that is just vicious for the sake of being vicious.

News channels are holding panels with cosmetologists and dieticians to understand whether taking diet pills or undergoing surgeries contributed to Sridevi’s death. Since there were post-mortem reports that traces of alcohol were found in her body, they are sharing images of her movie roles in which she is drinking, trying to label the actress as an alcoholic. Worst of all, they have created images in which she is found in a bathtub by her husband, producer Boney Kapoor. There are images analyzing her height vs. that of a regular bathtub to see if how she would fit in one. One reporter even stepped inside a bathtub while sharing this news.

All of this is a truly horrifying representation of how Indian news channels work.

It is vital to note that not one of these so-called journalists and panelists have an iota of actual information besides the very few hard facts released by the police. In fact, this was still an open and ongoing investigation until yesterday. Only recently did the Dubai Police release her body to be transported back to India after closing the case, ruling her death as an accidental drowning in the bathtub after she lost consciousness.

That the Indian media has decided to tarnish the reputation of a beloved actress and of her legacy for absolutely no reason is despicable

News outlets in India often resort to sensationalizing the news for heavy viewership, not realizing the burden of truthful journalism. Being in the news comes with a sense of responsibility to your audience; the responsibility of showing the truth as is without glamorizing it and hyping up headlines for more eyeballs. This is something Indian media has rarely realized.

Another important question to ask: are viewers also partly to blame? The reason these news channels are doing this is that audiences are buying what they’re selling in form of poor graphics and charts depicting her death. Sridevi was and will always remain an important part of Indian cinema but this constant reporting on her has taken away from several other vital news stories as well.

Luckily, this time, viewers are on to them, calling them out for their behavior. From reporters like Barkha Dutt and to actors like Vir Das and several citizens, everyone is realizing the surreal depths to which Indian news is sinking; from English-language networks like Times Now and CNN-IBN to Hindi and other regional language channels like ABP News and more. Indian people are smarter, more aware, and more compassionate than anyone in these newsrooms gave them credit for.

The hashtag #NewsKiMaut is trending and for good reason.

Sridevi’s funeral will be held on Feb 28, 2018, in Mumbai. Here’s hoping the Indian media let her rest in peace and have her legacy remain for the remarkable work she did her entire career versus their over-spun and sensationalized critiques of her last hours.

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