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An Appetite for Melodrama is Behind the Media Sensationalization of the Tragic Sushant Singh Rajput Story

Of the many hobbies that I have, one is that of jotting down musings when they come to the mind once a while. One such musing written on one of those days goes like:

“Heaven & Hell”

We all crave for heaven and the perks that come with it – peace, serenity, and the like.

But on further thoughts, we can’t help but ask ourselves, “Is heaven what we really want?

For earth and hell are the places where all the dramas unfold.

And we all love MELODRAMA. Don’t we?

We have been advised time and again to not see evil, to not hear evil, and to not speak evil—this is what is depicted by the Mahatma’s three monkeys. On one hand, we do channel surfing for spiritual guidance to look for insights and remedies to the various unanswered questions that we have in regards to ways of coping with the many hurdles that we face in our modern-day lives. We look up to spiritual gurus and judiciously follow them and their sermons for advices on how to face the ups and downs in our day-to-day lives. Such exercises do bring forth a certain amount of balance and stability in ourselves, and we become better equipped to design ways and means of handling our life situations when problems, hurdles, and rough patches cross our paths.

Modern-day life means constant unrest, tension, stress, and anxiety. Maintaining a certain level of inner stability and balance is a must if one is to face all the uncertainties that exist in today’s world. We need to have the ability to adapt to this fast changing world. This fast-paced life could stress us out to such an extent that most times we are left stunned and clueless as to what the future has in store for us. We do find ourselves so overwhelmed by the weight of these obstacles that the only feeling remaining is the need to take the backseat or hang up our boots and retire. At such junctures, the cravings are of peace, tranquillity, serenity, and retreat from all things worldly – the feeling “that’s it”—call it a burnout or whatever. Then we decide to take the much needed break to get our depleted batteries recharged.

But human nature is such that we cannot remain in this state for long. As soon as we feel the charging is complete, we again long to get back to our old worldly ways. This is true for most people, I feel. We love melodrama. We’re drawn to it. Only a slight whiff of it is enough to get us all attentive and interested.

Let me speak from a personal point of view. I like the “peace and quiet” situation as most people do and prefer a smooth ride when it comes to life’s journey. Then the “but” comes that takes you to a different direction.

Sigmund Freud, the Austrian neurologist and psychoanalyst, once said, “Being entirely honest with oneself is a good exercise.” So to be honest with myself and to all, there is this side of me that loves melodrama. The peace and quiet sometimes does not suffice. Hence, I guess I’m not alone when it comes to preferences for watching crime shows. Many people must be sharing this interest; otherwise, these shows wouldn’t be such huge hits. The English version shows that I favoured were along the lines of Criminal Minds, Perception, Mentalist, Monk, etc., and from among the Hindi counterparts, one crime show that I followed was the Crime Patrol Series. I’ve been an avid follower of such shows for quite some time to the extent that I’d stay up till the late hours to follow the episodes. I make it a point that I do not miss the time slots. The stories really get you hooked and you feel you have to be with it till the end. It’s like that always, totally absorbed in the curiosity to get the “whodunit” answer.

A few of my friends share this common interest, and one of them once remarked, “If you watch Crime Patrol, you’ll never be able to trust anybody.” We all nodded in affirmation jokingly. The storylines, plots, and happenings in the episodes do make you doubt each and every person. The idea that nobody could be trusted surely does crop up. The motives of the crimes, the turn of events, the suspects, and the ultimate culprits always make an intriguing concoction.

Though these contents may be interesting, intriguing, or suspenseful, they are not good feeds for our already stressed-out brains. The spill over factor is always there and we find ourselves ruminating on such disturbing stuffs, and that could even leave us with less sleep and mental unrest. The choice, to watch it or not to watch it, is always of the viewer. But the thrill and curiosity factors make the viewers come up with the obvious pick. So most of the time, we tend to pick the hell & earth over the blissful heaven. Given a choice, we usually choose the melodramatic over the un-dramatic, the chaos over tranquillity, “hot & spicy soup” over “plain bland diet.”

During this pandemic, most of us are anxious and stressed out trying to beat the blues that have come with the extended pandemic time. What we should be doing is to watch some good motivational stuff, but no, we’re not doing that. Here I would like to make a mention of the media coverage of the Sushant Singh Rajput Case or the SSR Case as it is known. The mysterious, unnatural death of young and upcoming Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput is turning out to be just like one story coming straight out of one of the hit crime shows. It has been more than two months since his death on June 14, 2020, and it has turned out to be just like one big circus out there – on social media, mainstream media, everywhere. Sure, such sensational happening is bound to grab a lot of media attention. The news, views, discussions, fights, and coverage are everywhere. It has come to a point where you can’t escape it even if you want to.

Neither the COVID-19 pandemic nor the Chinese aggression in Ladakh is the top trend now, but it is the SSR Case that is the top focus everywhere. Open or switch on any device, it just crops up automatically. Sushant has got all the fame that he could gather in many life times, it seems. Is it the algorithm that is leading us on. If it is, then algorithm really sucks at the moment. The information plus misinformation are so massive that it is really getting over crowded. All and sundry are putting inputs and opinions to this matter. Why should I be left behind in this matter? I also have made my contribution in the form of one or two comments.

As for me, I was never a big fan of Sushant myself, for I’d not watched any of his movies except for M. S. Dhoni: The Untold Story. The biopic may not be an out-and-out entertainer, but I was greatly impressed by his acting prowess, as after viewing the movie I found it difficult for a long time differentiating the original M. S. Dhoni from Sushant. Both images somehow got merged in my mind’s eye. That was the magic and finesse of Sushant’s depiction of M. S. Dhoni. You can’t help but be impressed. I saw some more of his movies only after his death including his last one, Dil Bechara, a few days back on its release date on an OTT platform.

He was a man of great talent and potential. Only after his death, it has come to light to the majority that Sushant was a person with many positive traits, a physics prodigy, a brilliant mind, an inventor, an excellent performer, a talented actor, and a wonderful human being. It is really sad that such a young promising life has to come to an end in this tragic way.

His death, which was initially reported as suicide but now suspected to be a planned murder, has brought out many controversies, accusations, name-callings, wars of words, tug of wars in the Bollywood industry as well as the political class. These involve the bigwigs in films and politics. So much washing of dirty linen in public have taken place that at this moment what I feel is total confusion.

The only respite now is the transfer of the investigation of this mysterious unnatural death to the CBI. Except for a few with vested interests, everybody wants a CBI probe into the matter, and the apex court of the country has granted it. We have a little sigh of relief here at the hope that justice would be done to the late actor, his family, his fans, and all the people who still have faith that there is a dependable, unbiased authority that would bring out the ultimate truth.

As for all, this overfeeding of the news with this topic should stop or at least become less. It is getting so jarring and repetitive. Let us slow down a bit, take a break, and let the authorities do their job with no further obstructions or inputs that are unwarranted. Let us find some other channels and topics too to occupy our screen times.

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