When life’s worth is measured apathetically

I WOKE up two Sundays ago with news that shocked me, that death came calling just too soon, too early and too fast for someone who had the world going for her. She was one of my favourite screen personalities.

She easily had 50 years of her 54 years devoted to entertaining cinema-goers and I thought I will pay tribute to her here in my own way, a eulogy of sort.

Yes, Sridevi, the star who hit the silver screen at the tender age of four is no more and when news of death broke I searched frantically for some information on how this cruelty might have been meted out to her.

The first information was that she died of a heart attack in Dubai where she was holidaying with her family and then came a barrage of other conjectures.

By evening, the speculations had gone wild and there were many versions. And of course, many netizens did their own research and came up with mini theses on what might have caused the heart attack, if it was even that.

At the time of writing, she continues to hog the table topic at all gatherings and events. She has been the lifeline that is connecting people digitally and otherwise, because after all social connectedness is deeply associated with gossip.

The theories proposed are stretched too thin with too many biting assumptions made from news reports.

Don't feel bad if you had contributed to the gossip. We can console ourselves as some psychologists believe languages evolved for and from gossip. Additionally, anthropologists believe that throughout human history, gossip has been a way for us to bond with others and sometimes a tool to isolate those who aren't supporting the group.

Smugly looking down from the moral high ground – and secure in the knowledge that we don't share their character flaw – we often dismiss those who are obsessed with the doings of others as shallow. When gossip involves a public figure, we all feel that it is our right.

Having said that, I thought it was vile to shame someone who had passed on and those who had the audacity to post offensive remarks and crude jokes about her death had neither character nor culture.

Expectedly, I watched several videos of her being interviewed and they were few and far between. It would surprise you that someone who was not camera shy and started playing roles from childhood was actually a very private person who didn't speak much about herself, neither during her heyday nor in between.

In a rare interview she reasoned that she had wanted her acting to do the talking rather than her interviews and she didn't deny that she often chose to be alone on sets. I have been watching her movies most of my adult life but some facets of her personality were only apparent to me now.

I wouldn't have thought that one with such a cinematic personality and charisma could have been one who spoke so little and preferred to present her grandeur so sublimely.

Having said that, she was no social recluse and that is obvious from the filmic presence at her funeral. She was a larger than life figure who admitted that acting was in her DNA and she would not have done anything else.

Imagine, her debut as a heroine was when she was just about 11 and there was no turning back.

Over 300 movies and she went across five mainstream Indian languages and at each of those, she rose to fame. Considered the first female superstar to have attained fame of that breadth and altitude, Sridevi co-starred with most of the big names in Indian cinema.

She is inimitable, but her down to earth attitude I think is simply awesome and different.

"Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people".

Comments: letters@thesundaily.com