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Analysis

How Sridevi died? Unraveling the mystery

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Sridevi

The sudden demise of India’s first female superstar, Sridevi has shocked the entire nation. The actress has left everyone grief-stricken, fans and Bollywood alike. This unexpected death of the veteran actress at Dubai’s Emirates Tower on Saturday night is something we are still trying to get over and we bet the nation is too. She suffered a cardiac arrest in the hotel’s washroom and passed away at around 11 pm.

Apparently, Sridevi had accompanied her husband Boney Kapoor and daughter Khushi to Dubai for her nephew Mohit Marwah’s wedding. As the new reports now suggest that Sridevi had stayed back after the wedding to spend time with her sister Srilatha and had checked into the famous Emirates Towers. Her husband Boney Kapoor, a leading film producer had to rush back to Mumbai to attend Manmohan Shetty’s birthday dinner party but subsequently returned to Dubai on Saturday to surprise Sridevi.

A source close to the actress recounted her final moments to a Gulf tabloid. Boney Kapoor reached her hotel at 5.30 PM and woke her up and invited her to a dinner. Sridevi was resting when Boney arrived and the couple must have chatted for 15 minutes when the actress went to the washroom. Sridevi did not come out after 15 minutes and a worried Boney Kapoor knocked on the door and when he failed to get response, he forced open the door to find her motionless in a bathtub. He tried to revive her and when he couldn’t, he called one of his friends. He later on also called the local police and the actor was rushed to hospital where she was declared brought dead.

Why did Sridevi, the heartthrob of millions of adoring fans died just before her daughter Jhanvi’s debut movie release, just like her bête noire, Boney’s first wife Mona, who died a few weeks before her son Arjun Kapoor’s debut release? Is it just a coincidence or a curse by Boney Kapoor’s first wife Mona Kapoor who always considered Sridevi as a real life vamp who destroyed her married life?

Was Sridevi suffering from guilt of breaking Mona Kapoor’ marriage which hung around her and took her life in its wake? Was Mona so hurt at being upstaged by Sridevi in her husband’s life that it ensured Sridevi too didn’t stay around long enough? Was it the destiny of Boney Kapoor to lose his life partner for the second time in succession? There are many questions which are begging to be answered.

Where should one begin looking for answers? Sridevi was one of the most versatile actors whose luminous and expressive eyes said so much- were they for real! How can they never sparkle naughtily or deepen romantically again?

We knew Sridevi only as much as every cinema-going Indian knew her. She was quite shy and reserved and was not seen in parties unlike her contemporaries. The moment camera was switched on, she used to become altogether a different person and thus in every sense she was a director’s actor.

It was around 1998-99 when the rumour began that Boney and Sridevi had been declared an item. I vividly remember one of her pictures which appeared in the Filmfare magazine. She was hanging onto Boney’s arm tightly with both hands in a party and looked very unlike her pulsating, full-of-life presence on the screen. Her beautiful eyes conveyed a wariness and stress that was far removed from their vivacity on screen.

I still remember wondering what she was so stressed about! Was it the public opinion she feared since Boney had walked away from his first marriage and two children to be with her? So, was she scared he may walk away from her too? That was not the only picture as most of the future pictures of couple conveyed the same desperation and insecurity in her eyes. And that is how they continued till the next 20 years! In just one stroke she gave up movies and devoted herself to Boney and her two daughters.

We will never know why she gave up movies and that too at prime of her career. She was only 34 and at top of her craft when she married Boney. She was one actor who carried film on her shoulders and it is rumoured that she was paid more than most of her contemporary male actors.

Sridevi was born for the silver screen and it was there that she looked most beautiful, most alive and most stunning. It was there that she was at her most beguiling, irresistible, charming self. Sridevi was special and nobody can doubt that as she made acting look effortless, and that is probably the greatest achievement of an actor. The God made her exceptionally beautiful but apart from that, she was a self-made success story, a legend of her own making by her own efforts and talent.

It is not easy for an icon such as Sridevi to live life normally. The adulation of the millions of fans can make that impossible. She may have quit movies to start a new life, but the camera and attention never left her and she remained in the limelight. It must have been tough for an ethereal beauty to develop wrinkles and grow old gracefully under such a scorching gaze. She was obsessed about her looks and continued to nourish her beauty even while she put her career on hold for several years.

Under the constant pressure to live up to their screen image, celebrities often go under the knife several times and Sridevi was no exception. Only God knows how many diets and exercise regimens Sridevi followed! She ate healthy and lived healthy as per her close friends’ accounts. Why then did she die the way she did – unprepared, suddenly and with no warning? She was a caring, loving

person and an extraordinary mother says her close workers. Does that count for nothing?

We don’t know what ultimately killed Sridevi. Was it the 24×7 stress as a celebrity who is constantly under the probing gaze of media or just one of those freak incidents that happen? Who knows! All we know is that the gorgeous, vivacious and lively Sridevi of the screen died a long time ago; today no doubt she still looked beautiful, but a beauty more of the porcelain kind.

It would have been much better to see a unique beauty like Sridevi to grow naturally into her own older and even more beautiful self… We would have adored her just as much. Sadly, we will not be able to witness that now ever…

Analysis

YouTube testing new video recommendation format: Report

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San Francisco, Jan 16 : Google-owned video sharing platform YouTube is testing a new video recommendation format that displays blue bubbles on the screen with relevant keywords and related topic suggestions, facilitating easier browsing, media reported.

“The screenshots obtained show these blue bubbles just underneath the video player showing more specific video recommendations,” The Verge reported on Tuesday.

The video-sharing platform is currently testing the feature with some users on its main desktop page as well as on the mobile app.

For sometime now users have been complaining that the videos recommended on the side on YouTube’s interface often have little to do with the current video, making recommendations a point of contention for the platform.

“It’s unclear if the videos that populate from the new recommendation bubbles will face similar algorithmic issues that YouTube’s recommendation feed currently suffers,” the report added.

There has not been any word from YouTube as of now on the working of these blue bubbles and whether or not they will roll out the test feature to a bigger group in the coming months.

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Analysis

2002 Gujarat riots: Judge P.B. Desai ignored evidence, says activist Harsh Mander

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Harsh Mander

New Delhi, Jan 9 : Special SIT court judge P.B. Desai “ignored evidence” that former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, who was killed in a mob attack in Ahmedabad’s Gulberg Housing Society during the 2002 riots, did all that was possible within his power to protect Muslims from the “rage of the mob” and instead echoed the position of then Chief Minister Narendra Modi that his killing was only a “reaction” to his “action” of shooting at the mob, says human rights activist Harsh Mander.

He says that “the learned judge”, who retired in December 2017, overlooked statements by surviving witnesses that Jafri made repeated desperate calls to senior police officers and other persons in authority, “including allegedly Chief Minister Modi”, pleading that security forces be sent to “disperse the crowd” and rescue those “against whom the mob had laid a powerful siege”.

Mander, who quit the IAS in Gujarat in the wake of the riots, makes these observations in his just released book, “Partitions of the Heart: Unmaking the Idea of India”, published by Penguin.

The 66-year-old activist, who works with survivors of mass violence and hunger as well as homeless persons and street children, goes on to quote the late journalist Kuldip Nayar to establish that Jafri had desperately telephoned him, “begging him to contact someone in authority to send in the police or the Army to rescue them”.

Mander says Nayar rang up the Union Home Ministry to convey to it the seriousness of the situation. The Home Ministry said it was in touch with the state government and was “watching” the situation. Jafri called again, pleading with Nayar to do something as the mob was threatening to lynch him.

In the chapter titled “Whatever happened in Gulberg Society?”, Mander contends that Jafri did everything within his power to protect “those who believed that his influence would shield them from the rage of the mob”. Mander says Jafri begged the mob to “take his life instead” and in a show of valour went out “to plead and negotiate” with the angry crowd.

“When he realised that no one in authority would come in for their protection, he also did pick up his licensed firearm and shoot at the crowd…,” Mander notes, describing it as the “final vain bid” on behalf of Jafri to protect the Muslims in the line of fire.

The author notes that in describing Jafri’s final resort to firing as an illegitimate action, the judge only echoed the position taken repeatedly by Modi, who had given an interview to a newspaper in which he had said that it was Jafri who had first fired at the mob.

“He forgot to say what a citizen is expected to do when a menacing mob, which has already slaughtered many, approaches him and the police has deliberately not responded to his pleas,” says Mander.

He says that it was as if even when under attack and surrounded by an armed mob warning to slaughter them, “and with acid bombs and burning rags flung at them”, a good Muslim victim should do nothing except plead, and this would ensure their safety.

Ehsan Jafri’s wife Zakia Jafri, according to Mander, was firmly convinced that her husband was killed because of a conspiracy that went right to the top of the state administration, beginning with Modi. The author notes that the court, in its judgement running into more than 1,300 pages, disagreed.

“It did indict 11 people for the murder but they were just foot soldiers,” observed Mander.

He further says that the story the survivors told the judge over prolonged hearings was consistent but Judge Desai was convinced that there was “no conspiracy behind the slaughter” and that the administration did all it could to control it.

“Jafri, by the judge’s reckoning, and that of Modi, was responsible for his own slaughter,” he laments.

Mander also argues in the book that recurring episodes of communal violence in Ahmedabad had altered the city’s demography, dividing it into Hindu and Muslim areas and Gulberg was among the last remaining “Muslim” settlements in the “Hindu” section of the city.

He says that Desai also disregarded the evidence in the conversations secretly taped by Tehelka reporters, mentioning that superior courts, according to Desai himself, have ruled that while a person cannot be convicted exclusively based on the evidence collected in such “sting operations”, such evidence is certainly “admissible as corroborative proof”.

“But he chose to disregard this evidence, not because there was proof that these video recordings were in any way doctored or false but simply because the Special Investigative Team (SIT) appointed by the Supreme Court of India chose to ignore this evidence,” says Mander.

According to Mander, the Tehelka recordings “certainly supported the theory that there was indeed a plan to collect, incite and arm the mob to undertake the gruesome slaughter”.

The SIT was headed by R.K. Raghavan, today Ambassador to Cyprus. Mander contends in the book that just because the investigators did not pursue Tehelka recordings in greater depth, Desai concluded that the “recordings cannot be relied upon as trustworthy of substantial evidence and establish any conspiracy herein”.

In the book, Mander takes stock of whether India has upheld the values it had set out to achieve and offers painful, unsparing insight into the contours of violence. The book is now available both online and in bookstores.

(Saket Suman can be contacted at [email protected])

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Analysis

Number of suicides highest in Army amongst three services

In the Air Force, the number of suspected suicides was 21 in 2017 and 19 in 2016. For the Navy, these numbers were 5 and 6 for 2017 and 2016, respectively.

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Ajit Doval

New Delhi, Jan 7 : The number of defence personnel committing suicide was highest in the Army amongst the three services in the last three years, data shows.

In 2018 alone, as many as 80 Army personnel are believed to have committed suicide. This number is 16 for Air Force and 08 for the Navy, Minister of State (MoS) for Defence Subhash Bhamre told the Rajya Sabha in a written reply on Monday.

In 2017, the number of Army men who are suspected to have committed suicide was 75, while in 2016 this number was 104.

In the Air Force, the number of suspected suicides was 21 in 2017 and 19 in 2016. For the Navy, these numbers were 5 and 6 for 2017 and 2016, respectively.

In his reply, the Minister said that various steps have been taken by the armed forces to create healthy environment for their officers and other ranks.

“Some of the steps include provision of better facilities such as clothing, food, married accommodation, travel facilities, schooling, recreation etc and periodic welfare meetings, promoting yoga and meditation as a tool for stress management, and training and deployment of psychological counsellors,” the reply read.

It said mental health awareness is provided during pre-induction training.

Besides, institutionalisation of projects “MILAP” and “SAHYOG” by the Army in Northern and Eastern Commands to reduce stress among troops has been done.

A helpline has also been established by the Army and the Air Force to provide professional counselling.

IANS

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