It looks like the Indian media has still not learnt its lesson after being slammed for their over-the-top and insensitive coverage of Sridevi’s death. Now, even as the debate about media ethics continues, they seem to have done it again – speculating over actor Irrfan Khan’s health.
A couple of days ago, Irrfan put up a tweet talking about a ‘rare disease’ that he hinted he was suffering from. This came after reports that he was unwell and didn’t show up on the sets of his upcoming Vishal Bhardwaj film with Deepika Padukone. Irrfan tweeted, ‘Sometimes you wake up with a jolt, with life shaking you up. The last 15 days, my life has been a suspense story. Little had I known that my search for rare stories would make me find a rare disease. I have never given up and have always fought for my choices and always will. My family and friends are with me and we are working it out the best way possible. In trying times, please don’t speculate as I will myself share with you my story within a week – 10 days, when further investigations come with a conclusive diagnosis. Till then, wish the best for me.”
Naturally, this sparked concern and people immediately started sending him messages to get well soon. But the media seems to have missed an important part of his tweet – ‘IN TRYING TIMES, PLEASE DON’T SPECULATE’.
Unfortunately, they have gone ahead and done exactly that. Even before Irrfan or his team has made a statement, there were reports doing the rounds that the Piku actor was suffering from brain cancer. About 25 websites have reported that Irrfan has a rare form of brain tumour and he will fly off to the USA soon for treatment. The site NewsX have gone ahead, quoting hospital sources saying that Irrfan has a malignant tumour and it is, in fact, a brain cancer, considered the rarest form of cancer. "Unconfirmed rumours suggest Bollywood actor Irrfan Khan has been reportedly diagnosed with brain cancer. The actor had to be rushed to hospital. Identified as Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM) Grade IV, also called ‘Death on Diagnosis’ is one of the deadly cancers. Earlier, the actor had revealed in an official statement that he is suffering from a rare disease," NewsX reported. Irrfan’s publicist had earlier revealed, “The doctors have strictly advised complete bed rest for Irrfan. His team is working on rescheduling all his commitments in the best interest of all causing as minimal as issues to everyone.” Unfortunately, all this is still in the realm of speculation. While one hopes that the actor is fine and the reports are false, one wonders how the media goes ahead and publishes something so important without a confirmation from either the actor or the hospital! Not surprisingly, this report was shared widely and people commented and sympathised with the star.
The industry has predictably rallied around Irrfan with many of his co-stars and colleagues extending their prayers for him to be fit again soon. One doesn’t really know what Irrfan’s condition exactly is. The above report may or may not be true (one sincerely hopes it’s false). The actor, instead of hiding information, has actually said that he would reveal his story himself within a week or so. Why can’t the news outlets wait until then and accord him what he has requested – privacy?
Noted critic Raja Sen tweeted, “When Irrfan Khan has requested us not to speculate on his condition, why can’t we respect that? This is not a scoop, it’s a man’s life. Let us please leave the announcements to him. Get better soon, Irrfan. There is a lot more conquering to be done.”
Actor Manoj Bajpayee also requested people to stop speculating. He posted:
Yes, there is a lot more conquering to be done for Irrfan and he will. Meanwhile, a little more perspective and sensitivity would do no harm perhaps?
Note: Inputs by Soumyadipta Banerjee