Set a narrative - start believing in it - propagate the belief so extensively, that it become the alternate reality. This seems to be the new mantra for news coverage by a few news TV stations. In the era of post - truth so exalted in Post - Trump America, the infection seems to have found deep roots in India media. A section of Indian TV news channels postulated a hypothesis - Sushant Singh Rajput was a gentle soul, an actor from small town, who couldn’t break the glass ceiling in Bollywood. He was talented, but without any Godfather. So when he was getting too successful in the eyes of the power that be in B’town, he was lured into intoxication & women and finally eliminated - killed. This hypothesis found ready acceptance among varied audiences as we generally get taken in by such soap operas on entertainment channels.
But one month down the serpentine narrative involving, deceit, manipulation, drugs and drama, the report from 7 member doctor’s panel from All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), demolished the whole imaginative reality. Led by Dr. Sudhir Gupta, the panel concluded that Sushant was not murdered, but he had committed suicide. There were no injury marks on the body, the Kurta used to hang from the ceiling fan could have taken a load factor of over 200 kg, while Sushant was less than 100 kg. That the marks around the neck were a result of hanging and no foul play could be ascribed to the death, ruling out any form of poisoning as well. Puff, went the entire alternate narrative that had been crafted for a sustain campaign to malign a select few.
Suddenly the family which till now wanted the investigation done by CBI and medical retesting to be conducted by AIIMS professionals is shell shocked. How could their make belief world come crush so fast. Just a week ago Sushant Singh’s father lawyer, Vikas Singh had claimed on suitable news channels that he knew for sure, Sushant was murdered - that he was 200 percent sure of his claim. Suddenly, his claims evaporated in thin air. So did the claims of several TV News Channels.
Now the catch here is that the Sushant murder narrative was being peddled by those, who claim to be in the business of news.
So vehement was the witch hunt, that Mumbai police was called names and its reputation tarnished beyond imagination. The Maharashtra Government was painted as the devil, which unleashed its reign of misinformation so as to shield powerful names. A Bengali woman, her family, her inheritance and lineage was shredded to pieces - just because she confessed her love for the departed Sushant Singh Rajput - knowing fully well that Sushant’s family disapproved of her, rather loathed her. So, Rhea Charaborty was the evil, Kali worshipper who practised occult tantras to overpower her simpleton lover, Sushant. Then came along the drugs angle and the numerous WhatsApp chats along with couple’s smoking videos, made the Alternate Reality so convincing. The narrative sat so well in the minds of India audiences that nobody questioned any of the postulates of this hypothesis - no body questioned, how did the news channels arrive at these inferences. People simply believed the soap opera being played out and immersed themselves in the mud slinging.
CBI which has been investigating the matter for the past 45 days, claims to continue exploring various angles to the suspicious death. Not once has the CBI said anything on record pertaining to the investigation. A very unusual silence on behalf of CBI. The Narcotics Control Bureau gunning for Rhea and thereupon, Sara, Deepika, Shradha, has also fallen silent. Suddenly, CBI, NCB & ED - three premier investigating agencies who were leaking minute by minute details of their investigation and questioning have also gone mute.
This was bound to happen. But we never wanted this to happen. Suddenly the soap opera is not coming out with any new episodes. Yet, the news channels who had set the alternate narrative, refuse to listen - they insist, they shall unearth the truth. That powerful would be exposed, who are trying to suppress the so called Post Truth theory of Sushant’s death mystery. This is where the Indian TV News media needs to re-learn from Post-Trump America. When you loose the plot, you should scoot - this is the most favoured axiom in US, these days. But our sensibilities usually refuse to make us believe in cutting ones losses and preparing for the next offensive. So the post-truth TV news channel are still in the fray of seeking the “truth” and punishing the guilty. After all, its not so easy to wash your sins - a dip in the Ganga would be needed to rid them of their so called ‘sins’.
(Writer of the article, Ajay Kumar, is Consulting Editor, India TV)
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The opinions do not reflect the views of India TV )