Jiah Khan… who?

Let me begin by saying that my thoughts and prayers are with Jiah Khan’s family and I hope and pray for her soul to rest in peace. Where ever she be, her family is going to be haunted by the huge void she’s left behind. But eventually, they’ll make peace with it and her memories will fade away. If, the Indian media let them.

Because, long after she’s gone and her loved ones have moved on, the Indian media will continue to dig out horrendous details about her personal life and flash it across the morning newspapers and news bulletins. Similar to the events that have quickly unfolded after the news of her suicide was made public.

I’m pretty sure, some newspaper publication somewhere in India, immediately called for a ‘stop press’ action after this news broke. Well, now that would be an exaggeration, but this wouldn’t be as unhealthy as the media coverage Jiah’s suicide is receiving over the last two – three days.

News reports regarding the suicide case have explored different angles of this story. Note, I am no longer calling it ‘news’, because honestly, after Jiah was found dead the news element kinda faded away. What was then left of the story was the reasons behind her suicide and the routine procedure there in. But, two days after the suicide, Jiah’s sister found a six pages long suicide note, which was analyzed to pieces by the media. Parts of the very personal letter were even printed in publications such as the Times of India, which is not only violation of personal space, but an extremely unethical thing for a publication to do.

In the publication’s defense, they claimed that the family granted them permission to publish the excerpts from the letter. As a consequence of which, another publication went ahead and blamed the mother and Jiah’s upbringing for failing to manage her personal life, washing dirty laundry in public and on top of all succumbing to pressure.

The easiest thing to do in India is to blame the parents for any misdeeds done by their children. Drugs, rape, pregnancies, betrayal, divorces, cheating, lying, murder or suicide are all blamed on the upbringing. As if to say that the external world had absolutely no role to play in a person’s development and his parents have in some form failed him/her by messing up his/her childhood nurturing. No guesses there, right!

I have just one question to the media, the opinion leaders and the people who think they can pass random judgements about just anyone: Who is Jiah Khan?

Why is her life so important to the media and hence to us? She is no Prime Minister of India, No Sachin Tendulkar or even Shah Rukh Khan. Then why is her suicide making headlines?

Honestly, she was an upcoming Bollywood starlet, with not more than three movies to her credit. None of which were anything close to a hit. Secondly, all her roles were extremely sleazy, without any hint of an acting career except for that she was sizzling hot.

That’s it. Beyond this point, nobody knows and nobody really cares about her life.

But the stories on her suicide sell. Human interest stories about people’s misery and plight sell like hot cakes and the media cashes on this. The media doesn’t care what they are inflicting on the common man, because the media believes that he likes to read about a woman who had a volatile sexual relationship with her younger man, who not only abused her, but also forced her to undergo an abortion. I’m not entirely sure how a woman of her ‘caliber’ and ‘talent’ can let a man, a younger man, walk over her like he did. But that’s not for us to discuss, because sure enough in a couple of days, you’ll read about it in the Times of India. Needless to say on the front page.

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One thought on “Jiah Khan… who?

  1. Nice post, Deepa. But I have to say I agree with some parts and disagree with some as well. I am also appalled at the way the media has handled the situation, but that was to be expected. There is just no sensitivity or regard for personal space in our culture. Especially uncouth was this clip circulating of when Aditya Pancholi got into an argument with some media person and they took his car keys etc. This was happening at the same time that they were taking her body away from the building. It was disgusting. Also, Jiah Khan’s mother herself made some statement regarding that letter and Jiah’s relationship. That was unnecessary and largely their fault. They could have protected their privacy in that case if they wanted to. I don’t think her status of not being a big star makes her death any less relevant. There are some dark truths regarding depression and domestic abuse and the general status of this industry that come to light when such things happen. Of course, this is possible if handled in the right way. If the content of that letter is to believed, then it is yet another telling factor of the self esteem issues that girls go through in our culture, or any culture for matter. I guess what I am trying to say is that the media has the power to use interpret this information and color it in a productive way if they really want to. But they usually won’t. You are right about that.

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