Updated: February 28, 2018 1:39:18 pm
It was Julia Roberts’ character Anna Scott in Notting Hill who said, “Every time I get my heart broken, the newspapers splash it about as though it’s entertainment.” As we mourn the passing of Sridevi and celebrate her life by rewinding to songs like Hawa Hawai while in office, listening to other hits on the radio on the commute to work, there’s also the tantalising lure of gossip.
Questions about whether she had plastic surgery to her regimented lifestyle — she believed in a diet of hot water and boiled cabbage, according to one grapevine —there’s enough fodder for gossip. It also takes us back to the days when Sridevi’s affair with a much-married Boney Kapoor was discovered, along with news of her pregnancy, leading his then heartbroken wife Mona Kapoor to vent in film magazines. Unlike in contemporary times when exes turn BFFs, this was sheer melodrama on a different scale. However, all it shows us is Sridevi’s larger than life persona even in death and marks the end of an era.
Removed by so many decades from the past, it makes us question our own reactions. In the age of Tinder, where one’s marital status has almost ceased to matter when it comes to hook-ups and crumbling marriages are announced with amicable selfies, one wonders whether the old moral high ground still holds. While Boney Kapoor was definitely blamed (by we, the people!) for the end of his first marriage, Sridevi took the fall for it, too. It’s the “cardinal sin” of having destroyed another woman’s home. But, shouldn’t the person who was part of the partnership take the fall for the failure, not the outsider? Should we be questioning our knee-jerk reaction of making it all about the women involved, to the exclusion of the man who started it all, in the first place? Morality was always a grey area, but even more so today.
The fact that it’s none of our business doesn’t really help, since celebrities’ lives, unfortunately, are fair game for the chattering class. But, truth is, Sridevi is no more among us and maybe, it’s time we let some things go. Hopefully, all the people involved made their peace at some time point in their lives, even though they didn’t put up any selfies for us to admire. We live in sanitised times, in sharp contrast to the Eighties and Nineties, when relationships were messy and hung out to dry in full public view. At the end of the day, shit happens, you learn from it and move on. It’s what growing up is all about. When it comes to celebrities, as we pass judgement about their choices, let’s remember to look at the larger picture, at ourselves and society’s shifting moralities.
And, whatever a star’s personal life, it’s up to us to celebrate the legacy they left behind. Thank you for the movies and the magic, Sridevi!
(The writer is an editorial consultant and co-founder of The Goodwill Project. She tweets @anuvee. Views expressed are personal.)
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