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Will You Let Me Age Gracefully? Amala Akkineni to the Media 

Amala Akkineni hits out at the media for the negative reportage surrounding Sridevi’s death.

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In the past few days, Indian journalism, especially television reportage came under substantial fire. It is even being called ‘bathtub journalism’ by some, due to the insensitive reconstructions of actor Sridevi’s last moments.

This was accompanied by a lot of talk about her being a woman actor who “aged gracefully”, did not put on weight, took care of her fitness and kept up with the trends. Had she not been a ‘good, ideal’ woman with a public image to match, would her demise have meant less?

A recent Facebook post by actor Amala Akkineni seems to be raising important questions along these lines.

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Her open letter begins with the words, “Will you let me age gracefully?” She turns the phrase on its head, however, asking if she can grow old, with the signs of her age being allowed to show on her face and body.

She also talks about the pressure of having to keep up with the trends, and to have a perfect “size zero” body at all times. And the pressure to cater to a feminine appearance – having long hair for instance.

“The bad hair days get captured, not the wisdom I carry, and that’s demoralizing. Surely cameras can show the depth of a person and not just the surface?” she asks rhetorically.

Amala also speaks about women actors being asked stereotypical questions, which cater to the conventional roles of women. She desires to be allowed to speak about meaningful things than what the latest gossip merits, or what she cooks.

Most of all, she points out, how heavy the media scrutiny is on every aspect of an actor’s life, leaving little to their private space.

“Will you free me of the box office madness, the TRP wars, Page 3, the likes, the comments, the traps that menacingly surround everything we do?” Amala writes.

Finally, in what seems to be a reference to the late Sridevi, she says, “Allow me a life, some privacy, to engage with humanity and the universe, with purpose, truth, compassion and some respect for those now gone.”

Read her full post here:

“Will you let me age gracefully? Will you let me age gracefully without needing to comment on how tired I look or the weight I have gained? The shadows under my eyes are from reading glass lines and freckles change to age spots everyday. Will you let me dress without feeling low self esteem that I am not size zero anymore, nor that I wear the season’s couture? A washed handloom engulfs me providing market to the looms, comfortably accommodating menopause. Will you let me stop colouring my hair, let me wear it short, without referring to my long tresses in Pushpak, at 19? The bad hair days get captured, not the wisdom I carry, and that’s demoralizing. Surely cameras can show the depth of a person and not just the surface? Will you let me discuss meaningful things without interrupting the flow with questions on how I cook or what the season’s latest gossip demands? My inner being thrives on accomplishing things that make a difference, things I seek to complete before my physical form is put to rest. Will you let me walk through my day with peace and calm without the endless messages to attend events teeming with emptiness? I need to complete life’s mission, but I can’t if my head spins in endless carousels, important to you, no doubt. Will you free me of the box office madness, the TRP wars, Page 3, the likes, the comments, the traps that menacingly surround everything we do? You have caught me in a time warp, a cage of fame, while my spirit is free. Allow me a life, some privacy, to engage with humanity and the universe, with purpose, truth, compassion and some respect for those now gone”.

This article has been published in an arrangement with The News Minute.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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