It must have been a particularly slow news day.
The Times of India has, not for the first time, incurred the wrath of Bollywood after an outrageously speculative story about an alleged relationship between Suzanne Roshan – the ex-wife of superstar Hrithik Roshan – and married actor Arjun Rampal.
Journalist Meena Iyer wrote the piece for the Sunday edition of the Bombay Times and quoted two “star wives” and another source as saying that rumours about the alleged romance were true – despite previous denials by Rampal’s model wife Mehr Jessia and Suzanne herself.
In the piece – titled “Is Arjun to blame for Mehr-Susanne Friendship Taking a Severe Beating?” – Ms Iyer quoted her “sources” as saying that Rampal’s friendship with Suzanne Roshan “ran deeper” and the two had even travelled overseas to “spend quality time together” while Mehr “buried her head in the sand like an Ostrich”.
One of the sources also tells Ms Iyer that Mehr and Susanne – who have been “soul sisters for more than a decade” – are no longer friends.
Intriguingly the same paper had earlier this year speculated that it was Rampal’s “closeness” to Suzanne that led to the breakdown of the Roshan’s’ 14-year marriage.
On Monday, Suzanne Khan angrily denied the story describing the allegations as “malicious”.
In a statement to the media, she said: “Arjun and Mehr are friends and have been for years.
“To poison a relationship such as this is malicious behaviour. I have, with Mehr, earlier stated in the same paper that there is no truth to the claim that Arjun and I are anything more than friends.”
Ms Khan was joined by her ex-husband Hrithik and Rampal himself in ridiculing the news report.
Hritishi Roshan tweeted that he was “disgusted” by the story while Rampal said: “Bombay Times, who paid you? Who are these faceless accusers? If you have the guts, reveal them first. Stay away from me and my family”.
All parties concerned also received considerable support from scores of Twitter users – including several public personalities – who accused the Times of India of resorting to “yellow journalism” which, incidentally, began trending in India.
The story is the latest in a long line of Times of India articles that have attracted the wrath of its subjects.
Earlier this year actress Deepika Padukone famously caused a minor Social Media meltdown after reacting angrily to a Times of India photo story about her cleavage.
In 2013, the newspaper’s online portal ran another photo story titled “The Women in Kabir Bedi’s Life” and posted a picture of this writer – a picture taken for personal use after I had conducted an interview with the actor the previous year – and speculated that I was one of his muses.