Is that why they’re called dead-lines? Have deadlines killed our conscience? Have we media-persons become uncaring insensitive news maniacs? How else do we explain our appalling insensitivity towards the violation of Taimur’s private space or when actors visit doctors and hospitals.
It’s easy to forget celebrities are human, so busy are they posing as super-human.
It isn’t easy to deal with an illness. We all know how it stresses us out, makes us edgy and anxious. When it comes to the first- family of filmdom, the anxieties during a crisis are manifold. When Amitabh Bachchan fell ill, chaos prevailed.
There was the added pressure of mediatized hospitality, thrust on them by the constant inflow of VIP guests whom the cameras captured from outside the hospital…In a strange and bizarre way the cameras parked outside the posh venue of the Bachchan crisis reminded me of the celebrity circus outside the J.W. Marriot on the superstar’s 60th birthday …the same frenzy of celebrity floating on camera.
To their credit Jaya and Abhishek played immaculate hosts to the steady stream of visitors. Everyone who has been there speaks about the light-hearted positive atmosphere at the hospital. The conduct was more hospitable than hospital. ..though on several occasions some members of the electronic media got thoroughly pushy and insensitive.
“You’ve to understand their compulsions. Every channel was breathing down its staffers’ neck for tidbits from the hospital. Anyone who visited was collared for some morsel of information on what went on inside,” a tvjournalist told me.
Given the ghoulish curiosity for Bachchan bytes in the media can we blame journalist-friends of the Bachchans for making news reports out of very private friendly visits to the hospital?
They reminded me of my favourite actress Shabana Azmi who once told me how she found herself observing mourners after a death for expressions that she could probably use later as an actress.
We’re professionals. But we need to keep the human side at the forefront. Given a choice, I would rather be a good friend than a professional journalist.
The prime focus of the media this whole week was on getting sound and sight bytes out of guests, relatives and sundry visitors at Mumbai’s Leelavati hospital where India’s biggest entertainer was recuperating after an operation.
It mattered little to us in the media if the star whom we loved the most was feeling smothered by our attentions. Oh, we love to shower those whom we love with our affections, unwanted or otherwise.
It’s like those extra helpings of puri and jalebi that grandma insists on putting on our plates even if we’re filled to the gills. Throughout his valiant battle with his sudden ill health Mr Bachchan was seldom given the space to be on his own. He was badgered and hounded all the way to the ICU.
Abhishek was portrayed as the villainous offspring who kept dedicated media-persons from doing their jobs. He was only doing his duty as a son. While the country’s most powerful entertainer was in hospital Abhishek ceased to be a Bachchan. He was just a son fiercely protecting his father from constant media attention.
It is another matter that Abhishek couldn’t stop family friends from going on television to comment on the Big B’s health…And never mind if they didn’t get even a small glimpse of the big man in the ICU. They got the chance to go on tv and talk about their close encounter with immortality.
Fame is flame. Everyone wants to touch it without getting his or her hands burnt. And what better claim to ‘flame’ than the Bachchan name?
In our hurry to get associated with anything to do with the Bachchans, we all forgot one important detail. At the end of the day Amitabh Bachchan is a 74-year old work-weary professional who needs the time and space to bounce back.
Did anyone think of what he went through when he fell ill? Till the moment he was down-under he kept believing that the acute pain was just a routine tummy ache …something he ate that didn’t agree with him. Till an hour before he was hospitalized he was telling me about his packed schedules for the coming week.
Once in hospital the entire nightmare of 1983 when he nearly lost his life came rushing back to him. Speculation in the media went on unabated…doctors’ reports in the papers, medical reports flashed on television, self-appointed experts and voluntary well-wishers…oh , they all had a field-day.
I think some of us owe the Bachchans an apology.