One doesn’t know why anyone would want such an awful thing to happen. But Asia’s most revered entertainer Lata Mangeshkar gets killed repeatedly on Twitter and so does India’s most venerated actor Dilip Kumar. When one is a celebrity, the death hoax is part of the territory. The latest to fall prey to the fake death malaise is Sonali Bendre when a well-known politician from Maharashtra tweeted about her death in chaste Marathi, leading to a fleet of mournful reactions.
Sonali, touchwood, is alive and healing from her illness. A very close friend of the actress says he is disgusted by the hoax. “Do people in positions of responsibility actually understand the repercussions of their words? Sonali’s family is under so much stress. Such irresponsible rumour-mongering not only adds to their stress, it also ridicules their trauma.”
Lata Mangeshkar, who is constantly under the sickening scanner of death-mongering, says she has stopped reacting to such rumours. “Personally, I don’t care if some gets a pleasure in such things. But my family gets affected. They are bombarded with calls every time such things are written. And to have people spread such things about someone who is not well is in really bad taste. I think as a nation and society we have become insensitive to others’ pains. There is always the rush to get to the news before others.”
Lataji is right. I’ve personally had editors advising me to write out my obituary of the great Dilip Kumar. “Just in case… so we can be the first to go into publication when it happens.”
Says Dilip Saab’s wife Saira Banu, “Death hoaxes about Saab do not shake me. I feel every time a rumour of this kind is floated some more years are added to his life. Saab’s multitude of fans have no reason to worry. They are well-informed about his health.”
The mighty Amitabh Bachchan has not been spared either. Intermittently, attention-grabbing tweets about his ‘death’ surface. But, Mr Bachchan is unfazed. “When one has been into the jaws of death (an accident on the sets of Manmohan Desai’s Coolie in 1983 nearly took his life), one can hardly be bothered with rumours about one’s death.”