A model's death

Is a model’s suicide any different from other suicides? Until Page 3 became a standard feature, one recognised models only by their faces and bodies; many remained fairly unknown unless they were interviewed in women’s magazines.

There is a romanticisation of the stress levels. Today’s papers reported the suicide of model Viveka Babajee. She hanged herself from a ceiling fan; the reason was depression, partly due to a failed relationship. She came to India from Mauritius and was immediately engulfed in the world of glamour. Together with her professional skills, she, like several others, became an asset at society parties.

The film Fashion, despite its stereotypes, has depicted the life of the industry rather well. The clamour to be a part of it is huge. There was the case of Gitanjali who was found in the streets of Delhi, drugged, disheveled and in urgent need of medical and mental care. The media took to her – it was a great story. Madhur Bhandarkar used bits of her life in the film, but what is most striking is the hierarchy. It exists in every profession, but especially in one where vanity is the selling point.

They all seem to have an ‘attitude’. Attitude is arrogance teamed with a readiness to do anything. It is a generalisation, but happens to be the unfortunate truth. The stepping stones are designers, photographers, agents and business houses. The latter stay behind the scenes but are probably the most exploitative.

There is the sequence in the movie where some new girls are asked to attend a party because it helps grab eyeballs. This is what we see on Page 3, where unknown faces become names. It isn’t that they lack merit in their field. Someone has to model those products. They get instant fame and very few fall apart. Doing drugs is not considered a major problem.

Viveka was smart enough to realise she could not model forever, so she became an event manager and in fact had returned to Mauritius. Why did she come back to Mumbai? Because, in all likelihood, the country where she was from has no such culture of celebrity. It does not splash pictures only because you are dressed in certain clothes or you are invited to a party. The real high is fame on a pair of legs.

I found it curious that someone she met a week ago said she looked composed and not depressed. That is what they are paid for. Viveka must have had other problems and probably hid them from the world because the same celebrity that brings you in the forefront for baring forces you to not expose yourself.

She chose to die.


  1. FV,
    Almost a our back , the same ews was covered with the most Caramelised details . All were trying to package this into "typical Model" . I got very annoyed with the usual lack of depth of 20 something TV journalists on steroids. First , do only models have relationship issues and arguments with partners ..Whats wrong if she had a "prosmiscious" life style. does the same standard of prejudice apply to doctors , sportsmen and professionls. How is that Choice of partner so influenced by your profession....Also what has depression got to do with gender ...quiet to the contarary....
    all that said ....she was pretty and thats reason enough for news :)

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  3. IK:

    I don't think it was about promiscuity; these days people from other professions are as much open about affairs they have not had.

    I agree that depression is not only a woman's issue; men have every reason to be depressed. (Being male should be adequate!)

    I do not think it is looks alone that count here as news - it is not about an individual, but the groupism that is around that will keep it going so that they get to give their two bits.

  4. I thought the movie 'fashion' was really good, not because it portrayed the real fashion world but it showcased stuff that we ordinary people fear about Fashion.
    I have really good friends in the fashion industry, and I know these men aren't GAY, nor do they sleep with models promising them a better future.
    Fashion industry is just like any other and problems come with the fact that these models are beautiful.
    Its sad Viveka chose to die, but it happens to every other field and not just fashion.The media has nothing to do these days[and its seems people want these kinda stuff in tv], so its very understandable that they chose to give it such a huge coverage.


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