Former New York Press editor Alexander Zaitchik wrote a compelling feature for Spiked about the death of beloved movie star Rajkumar, which turned Bangalore, high-tech capital of India, into a literal mob scene.
“For two days in April,” Zaitchik writes, “Bangalore looked like Baghdad. Following the death by heart attack of the south Indian film icon known as Rajkumar, grieving fans shut down the nation’s knowledge capital. Bangalore’s streets, usually imagined as paved with hi-tech gold, were on 12 and 13 April turned into a stage for tear gas, gunfire, burning cars and bloody street clashes between police and 60,000 of Rajkumar’s supporters. The final body count: eight, including a young policeman killed and strung up by outraged fans attempting to gain entry into their hero’s funeral. To a bemused world, this fiery convulsion triggered by the death of an old actor was just another example of Indians’ idiosyncratic, borderline-religious love for their movie stars. This was also the local view in some quarters. According to an editorial in the the Hindustan Times, the state of Karnakatka had ’completely lost its mind.’”