03 julho 2010

Death of Indian model puts fashion industry in spotlight

In this undated photograph taken in 2008
Indian model Viveka Babajee, who was found dead in her Mumbai flat on 25 June. Photograph: AFP/Getty 
It was the neighbours in the plush Mumbai suburb of Pali Hill, known for its exclusive anonymity, who notified the police. When local officers forced open the door of Viveka Babajee's apartment, they found the body of the 37-year-old Indian model.
Her death a week ago sparked a media frenzy that – even though every twist and turn of the police investigation so far, and every detail of her personal life, has been picked over in breathless TV news bulletins and front-page splashes – shows little sign of abating this weekend.
Each day has brought a new claim: that she was murdered, that a final entry in her diary read "I kill", that she wanted to marry a new lover, that in fact the pair were "simply friends".
Through it all there has been one constant theme: vitriolic criticism of India's fashion scene, described variously as "backstabbing", "cut-throat" and "disturbing".
"Though it looks pretty glamorous, the fashion world has darkness inside that is not seen from outside," commented the Indian Express, an English-language daily based in the south-eastern city of Chennai.
Many reports have cited several previous similar incidents. In July 2004, Nafisa Joseph, a former Miss India Universe, killed herself after breaking up with her fiance. Her friend Kuljeet Randhawa took her own life soon afterwards. Then there is the story of Gitanjali Nagpal, a catwalk favourite in the 1990s recently found living in squalor on Delhi's streets after drug addiction problems.
"The [Babajee] incident … once again exposes the dark side behind all the glitter," said the Bollywood Stars website.
This week, however, India's fashion world closed ranks.
"We famous people are supposed to live flawless lives. But we are blood and flesh like anyone. We are no different. People have complexes about us," Liza Varma, a former Miss India who is now a choreographer, told the Guardian.
Geeta Joshi Khanna, the director of a fashion marketing and branding consultancy, said that the Indian media's criticism of the fashion industry was unjustified.
"There are a lot of ugly women who have killed themselves and no one writes about them," she said. "You can't generalise. For every [model] who has taken their own life, I can name 10 who are happily married and live their lives."
Much of the police investigation into the death of Babajee, a former Miss World contestant, has focused on her failed relationships. Two local men, including a 32-year-old stockbroker, have been questioned.
Mauritius-born, Babajee was known throughout India for being the face of Karmasutra condom adverts, which caused controversy for their explicitness. After appearing in a Bollywood flop, she largely gave up modelling and launched an event management company with her then boyfriend.
"She was a wonderful, enthusiastic, bubbly, happy person. Always positive, always glass half full, not half empty," said Pradeep Hirani, a well-known Indian fashion designer and a close friend. "The fashion world is always being targeted by those seeking cheap publicity."
Senior journalists have defended their reporting of the case, arguing that Babajee's death reveals problems that are common to many Indians.
"It is a story about modern life in India, not just the fashion world," said Abhijit Majumdar, the editor of a Mumbai newspaper. "There are a lot of young people in Indian cities trying to deal with stress and loneliness and the pressures of modern life. We have under-reported Babajee's death if anything."
India's rapid economic growth has led to the expansion of its major cities, such as Mumbai, swollen by hundreds of thousands of young people from small towns seeking a career. The resulting social shifts have led to the breakdown of long-established traditions of communal neighbourhood or family life.
Alcoholism among young professional women is reportedly on the rise, along with psychological illness.
Khanna said there was nothing extraordinary about Babajee's lifestyle.
"In Delhi or Mumbai you will find lakhs [tens of thousands] of young women living on their own.
"Things have moved on. Indian men don't want to marry a housewife. They want capable, independent women who can fend for themselves," she said.
"Everybody has gone to Monte Carlo. Everyone is going shopping in Paris and coming back. India is changing."


Nenhum comentário:

Postar um comentário



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


Blog criado em 8.8.05. Contagem de visitas desde 19.08.07