Skip to main content

From Monroe to Sridevi: Tragedy under the glow of talent, charisma and charm

By Adv Masood Peshimam*
Marlyn Monroe was an American actress, model, singer famous for playing sensual, seductive and tempestuous role. She became one of the most popular sex symbols of 1950s. Her talent, charisma, charm and above all her bold exposure of the body contributed to her meteoric rise.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Monroe spent most of her childhood in foster homes and at an age of orphanage and married at the age of sixteen. While working in radio factory in 1944 as part of the war effort she was introduced to a photographer from the first motion picture unit and began a successful career. The work led to short lived film contracts with Twentieth Century Fox (1946-1947) and Columbia Picture (1948). Over the years her career graph in the film made much of headway.
Monroe faced a scandal when it was revealed that she had posed for nude photos before becoming a star, but rather than damaging her career, much of interest was provoked in the films. She progressed to a gorgeous celebrated star. With an increasing appeal Monroe turned to be a huge commercial success and had the credit of winning a golden globe for the best actress for her work in “someone like it hot”. Her effervescent performance continued to allure millions of hearts.
However, notwithstanding her winning accolades and acclaim Monroe’s troubled private life received much attention. She struggled with substance abuse, depression and anxiety. She had two highly publicized marriages to retired baseball star Joe Dimaggio and playwright Arthur Miller, both of which ended in divorce. On August 5, 1962 she died at the age of 36 from an overdose of barbiturates at her home in Los Angeles. Although Monroe’s death was ruled a probable suicide, several conspiracy theories have been proposed in the decades following her death.
At the time of her death Monroe had suffered from mental illness and abuse for several years and had not completed the film "The Misfits" released in 1961. She had spent 1961 preoccupied with her various health problems. In April 1962 she had begun filming "Something’s Got to Give" for 20th Century Fox. The studio publicly blamed her the production’s problems, and in the week preceding her death, Monroe attempted to repair her image by giving several interviews to high profile publications. However, her attempt to revive her fortunes did not go flawless.
Monroe died on August 5, 1962 at her home in Brentwood around 3 am. She had locked herself in her bedroom. Her death was officially ruled a probable suicide by Los Angeles County Coroner’s office based on precedents of her overdosing and prone to mood swings and suicidal ideation. No evidence of crime was found, and accidental overdose was ruled out to be the large amount of barbiturates she had ingested.
Despite the Coroner’s verdict several theories suggesting murder or accidental overdose have been proposed since 1960’s. Even the American President John F. Kennedy was suspected to be involved in her death.
The American President late John F. Kennedy was very much fascinated by the charm, grace and beauty of Monroe. In the bitterest phase of cold war with then USSR on Cuban crisis Kennedy could explore the intimate space with Monroe to breath solace and comfort.
Monroe’s story is outdated but holds relevance. There are two sides of the coin. One side is fairly glamorous and quite brilliant but the other side is quite disappointing, gloomy and sometimes horrifying. Many a time the internal failure is subsumed under the fake show of glory. The projection is different from reality. The obvious is in contrast with the oblivious. There may be models and actresses basking under the glow of glory and glitter but surrounded in mysterious pain. High profile public figures, particularly film celebrities, have their moments of pain and anguish.
In the teeth of competitive richness and affluence, crass materialism, consumerism, and huge commercialization of values, the celebrity status is to be maintained at all cost, though the cost is very high. It’s not only the failure of keeping pace with the materialist requirements of maintaining the celebrity status which breeds frustration but there are other unhappy happenings casting their shadow over the lives of public figures.
Bollywood’s glamorous star Parveen Bobbi had a lively film career but her death was painful. She had remained confined in her flat unattended and uncared, from where some obnoxious smell emanated. Another veteran actress Meena Kumari also had an overdose of alcohol wallowing in some pain and anguish. The instances of celebrities experiencing internal complications galore due to variety of reasons.
Sridevi, the picture of astounding success in her film career, who died recently cannot be compared to Marlyn Monroe or anyone else for any personal complications. She had her children despite her earlier affair with the veteran actor Mithun Chakrovarty. She made her debut at the age of four and continued to dominate the silver screen for long. She took gap for some time and bounced back with her elegance and style.
She was the picture of dignity and grace as she did not indulge in an iota of vulgarity. Her acting was fabulous which had earned her a massive fan following. However, notwithstanding her good career, the moment of her sudden death was rather disturbing. Her death was due to “accidental drowning”, as described by the Dubai Police. She fell into the bathtub of her hotel room. Ingredients of alcohol were found. The traces of alcohol communicate difference in the privacy and the public appearance.
In this context it is not out of relevant to quote CP Surendran in "Asian Age" (28 February 2018), who said, “A few years ago, a friend of mine and sharp TV personality who comments on movies and stars, wrote without mentioning Sridevi by name that the actor was hooked reportedly on a cocktail of drugs and alcohol. A lethal combination, he called it. Pressure does it. How to be in front of a camera and not look a fairy? How to walk the red carpet rubbing shoulders with say, Deepika Padukone, the Deepika Padukone of today? That’s why you will see ageing stars, say Rekha retire into the shadows where they wrestle with the reality of what they had built their life on -- the gaze and its utter absence."
Following Sridevi’s death one of the social media messages said she had several plastic surgeries because the “patriarchal world demanded it”. The insinuation of alleged cocktail of drugs and plastic surgeries explain the failure to match with the appearance. The stress and anxiety cannot be discounted from the external world of make belief.
Notwithstanding the insinuation, the fact remains that Sridevi has beautifully entertained people with her beauty and dignity. Sridevi was not only a brilliant actress of Bollywood, she was equally devoted to her family, particularly her daughters, who were exceptionally nurtured and taken care of by her. She was an epitome of discipline in acting and maintained the same in family life. She had a style and grace on the silver screen which equally stretched to public appearance.
What is no less important to note is that, while lauding the distinguished grace and elegance of Sridevi in her public life, the fact remains that there is a dichotomy between the personal and public behaviour of many a celebrity. The celebrities who make a lot of display of humanity and charity many a time lack in level headedness in personal life. People with vast fortunes cannot resist an air of arrogance. The intoxication of money and power supersedes all intoxications. Celebrities many a time don’t remain down to earth, may be due to some sort of compelling circumstances.
Nawazuddin Siddique was quite candid with the fact that he is not down to earth. He was in a chat with director Nandita Dass in a TV show on her film on great Urdu fiction writer Sadat Hassan Manto. It is said that superstar Salman Khan runs a trust that caters to the needs of the poor and needy for meeting medical expenses. It’s a great job. The question is whether any common man can approach the trust and what would be the behaviour of the bigwig.
---
*Based in Kalyan, Maharashtra

Comments

TRENDING

#MeToo moment in Hyderabad Urdu varsity? Two girl students seek action against authorities

Counterview Desk
Has the #MeToo movement reached Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MAANU)? It would seem so if a recent letter by newly-appointed chancellor Firoz Bakht Ahmed to MAANU vice-chancellor Dr Aslam Parvaiz is any indication. Seeking reinstatement of two girl victims of “sexual harassment and humiliation”, the letter specifically names head of the department of the Media Centre for Journalism, suspecting, the problem could be much deeper.
Text of the letter: It is a matter of utmost perturbation for me to receive the two representations from the girls studying in the MCJ (Media Center for Journalism) regarding their sexual and subsequently, mental and social harassment at the hands of Prof Ehtesham Ahmad Khan, the HOD, MCJ.
We do not know, how many girls have been exploited by him and preferred to be silent for saving their family’s honour; however, there are two brave girls who stood to the depraved advances and misuse by Prof Ehtesham and came up with written complai…

"Ineligible" funding of Sardar Statue in Gujarat: CAG tells Central PSUs, it's not a heritage CSR activity

By Our Representative
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, in its recent report on Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSE), has qualified public sector undertakings’ (PSUs') funding the 182-metre world’s highest Sardar Statue, currently being constructed in the Narmada river downstream of the Sardar Sarovar dam as an “ineligible” corporate social responsibility (CSR) activity.

Gujarat BJP MLAs, youth leader "incited" attack on North Indians: Cong releases video

Counterview Desk
Senior Gujarat Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil, currently in charge of Bihar and national spokesperson, All-India Congress Committee, has sent a legal notice to chief minister Vijay Rupani threatening criminal case and civil defamation suit for accusing him with "baseless statement" that he was responsible for attacks on north Indians in Gujarat.

29th "NRC-related" suicide in Assam, as Nirod Baran Das takes his life by hanging on a fan

By Our Representative
Reporting 29th case of National Register of Citizens (NRC)-driven suicide in Assam, one of India’s human rights campaign sites has said that, on October 20, tragedy struck Kharupetia town in Darrang district of Assam, when a retired school teacher and advocate Nirod Baran Das “took his life by hanging himself to a fan in his home.” The report adds, “The NRC process has so far claimed over two dozen such lives in the past four months alone.”

"Highly irregular" for PSUs to fund Sardar Statue under Corporate Social Responsibility

Counterview Desk
In a letter to I Srinivas, secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India, former secretary (economic affairs), Ministry of Finance, EAS Sarma, has raised questions on the funding of the Sardar Patel statue in South Gujarat by Central Public Sector Undertaking (CPSUs) relying on the Comptroller and Auditor General report (No 18/2018).

Murder of Tamil Nadu teenage Dalit girl: "Stoic silence" despite #MeToo movement

Counterview Desk
Brinelle D'souza, who is with the Centre for Health and Mental Health, School of Social Work, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, has prepared a strong statement to protest the brutal murder of 13-year-old Rajalakshmi. "Other than a few media reports, this gruesome killing has not caught national attention despite a very vibrant #MeToo campaign currently underway", regrets D'souza.

Post-MJ Akbar resignation: #MeToo movement and fears of backlash

By Sheshu Babu*
For the last few days, #MeToo movement has picked up momentum and many women are coming out with horrific tales of severe harassment in their past lives. They are not afraid anymore to expose famous persons including those at ministerial levels. As a senior journalist Neeraja Chowdhury opined (“An exit, a beginning”, October 18, 2018, indianexpress.com), "The #MeToo revelations are like the eruption of a volcano which was imminent, given the journey working women have covered. It was not easy to make public what they had gone through,and take on powerful men.”

Bank account frozen, raid on Amnesty office: Govt of India "treating" human rights NGOs like criminal enterprises

By Abhirr VP*
Amnesty India’s bank accounts have been frozen by the Enforcement Directorate, effectively stopping its work. Amnesty India is thus the latest target of the government’s assault on civil society in the country. The accounts of Greenpeace India were frozen earlier this month.

J&K Governor's rule: BJP's "failure" to go ahead with 44-plus strategy

By Syed Mujtaba Hussian*
Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) continues to witness cataclysm of events ever since the killing of editor-in-chief of “Rising Kashmir”, Shujaat Bukhari, followed by the BJP’s deliberated parting of ways with its coalition partner, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and imposition of Governor rule.

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.