Shabana Azmi Accident: Shocking Display of Insensitivity Shown by Media
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Shabana Azmi Accident: Shocking Display of Insensitivity Shown by Media

The media carried exaggerated reports regarding Shabana Azmi’s accident and even objectionable pictures of the injured actress without any restraint or decency

At around 4 pm on Saturday someone sent me a message. “Shabana Azmi critically injured  in  a  road accident. Really sad.” He sounded  more excited  for having broken the  news to me, than sad. I panicked. Shabana is my hero, someone I look  up to and admire  beyond  words, one of my dearest friends, and my most favourite actress whom I’ve known for 40 years. We last  chatted  on Friday  evening  after  Javed Saab’s  birthday celebrations. She poured herself into organizing  all  the  events for Javed Saab’s  75th birthday. Her enthusiasm spilled over in our chats  and she told me, ‘Aap agar aayenge char chand lag jayega.’

Shabana Azmi critically injured in a road accident

Shabana Azmi critically injured in a road accident

Shabana Azmi was rushed to the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani hospital in Mumbai

Shabana Azmi was rushed to the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani hospital in Mumbai

Shabana Azmi's car was completely smashed

Shabana Azmi's car was completely smashed

That’s Shabana, never  pressurizing you into doing anything but always communicating her genuine warmth to  everyone who matters in her life. To therefore, read ghoulish and utterly misguided  and foolish  reports of  her “critical” accident made me shiver. I immediately contacted  Javed Saab who  understandably didn’t respond  immediately. He  called back a little later and  told me  not to worry. It was Farhan who told me he was also trying to contact his father, and that he would let me know  the  status as soon as he got in touch, and he did. But it was Shabana’s sister-in-law Tanvi Azmi (married to her brother Baba), who was the first to put my mind to rest . “She’s okay,” Tanvi  informed  me. And  I breathed a sigh  of relief.

Shabana Azmi Accident: Shocking Display of Insensitivity Shown by Media

Farhan Akhtar and father Javed Akhtar on the way to see Shabana Azmi at the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani hospital in Mumbai 

But the newshounds had just started. As the  evening progressed the reporting  of  the  accident got more and  more ghoulish. There is obviously more ‘hits’ when you write about tragedies. So  the doomsday  ‘profits’  took over. And  decency be damned! First information  reports  in  the  press claimed  Javed and Shabana were in the car when the  accident happened. This  was completely false. Javed Saab  was not  in the car when the accident happened.

Then there were hysterical reports that Shabana had a ‘near-fatal’ accident and she was  ‘critical’. She was  not. But I  certainly am critical of such alarmist reportage. In the  evening Javed Saab called me back to say Shabana  was fully conscious. The injury was all external. This  is  where  the voyeuristic  side of the media surfaced  full-throttle. Pictures  of  Shabana lying  prostrate with  pronounced facial injury were  used  across the internet and the papers too. Is there  no sense  of propriety  in the  press? I asked one of  the  portal’s editors why such private pictures were  being  put on public display and his reply made my blood freeze. “Ab dekho, Shabana Azmi koi Deepika Padukone toh hai nahin. Her accident can only sell on the  basis of heightened drama. Blood tears melodrama..”

While the drama unfolds, all sense of decency is thrown to the winds. But sorry, to sell a mishap to the public by using  pictures that violate  the most basic level of  decency, I can’t live with that. Best of luck to the  hounds of voyeurism.

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