Sushant Singh Rajput's death evoked accounts on 'cruel reality' of Bollywood
Actor Sushant Singh Rajput's death has reignited the discussions around the struggle of survival in Bollywood, with many insiders highlighting 'cruel and unforgiving' nature of the industry, particularly tough on outsiders. Rajput was found hanging in his Bandra apartment on Sunday.
According to a police official, Mumbai Police found out during the probe that the 34-year-old actor was under medication for depression.
An engineering student, Rajput left his course at the Delhi Technological University in the early 2000s and rose from a background dancer to a TV star with soap opera Pavitra Rishta, which gave the "outsider" his breakout show in 2009. In 2013, he made his Bollywood debut with Kai Po Che! and went on to star in films such as Shuddh Desi Romance, Raabta, Kedarnath, Sonchiriya and Chhichhore.
But his most prominent role came as cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni's in the 2007 biopic, MS Dhoni: The Untold Story.
Post his death, actress Kangana Ranaut in a two-minute video, slammed the nepotism and hypocrisy the industry comes with. “Sushant Singh Rajput's death has left all of us devastated, but some are looking for a parallel narrative even here. That whoever has a weak mind, they slip into depression and kill themselves. A guy who has a scholarship from Stanford... he is a rank holder of his engineering entrance, how can his mind be weak?” she asked. Sushant, much like Kangana, was an outsider who made his name on the basis of his good work.
Kangana, then further asked, “So was it a suicide or a planner murder?" Kangana also said that she felt Sushant made mistake by accepting others' criticism about himself.
In a telling tweet, veteran actor Dharmendra wrote despite not knowing Rajput personally, his death served as a reminder that the industry could be 'cruel'.
"Pyaare Sushant, naa film dekhi na kabhi mila tum se... par tere achaanak chale jaane se bada sadma laga. This beautiful beloved 'show business" is very cruel. I can imagine your unbearable pain. I share the pain of your loving family and friends," Dharmendra wrote.
Actor Meera Chopra penned a powerful, poignant note about the loneliness one feels working in an industry, which is 'cold and ruthless'. "We all knew well that Sushant was going through depression since long, but what did we do? Where was his close circle, the directors and producers he's worked with, his close friends? Why nobody came out and helped, gave him the kind of love, the work that he wanted—because nobody cares," she wrote on Twitter. The Section 375 actor, who has been vocal about feeling suffocated by the constant judgement from the industry colleagues, said nobody in Bollywood cares about what one's going through and artistes are just a flop away from being alienated. Chopra said the industry has 'failed' Rajput and Bollywood will now never be the same.
"True, Bollywood is a small family, but a kind of family which is never there when you need them. He had to take his life for that family to realise the kind of pain and need he was in. An outsider will always feel like an outsider here. "I just want to say to my industry that help people when they need it, and you know when they need it. There is no point tweeting when they are no more. Don't pretend to be sad when you guys didn't do anything when he was sad. Stop being such a hypocritical society," she added.
Gulshan Devaiah said, as an actor, one could understand why Rajput would've taken the step to end his life. "As actors, somewhere deep down inside, we think we know why he did it and that's why it so disturbing even if you didn't know him at all. It's a hard game to play and he played it very well but the game won in the end," Devaiah wrote.
Quoting Chopra's tweet, the Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota star dismissed the idea of Bollywood being a family.
"If one thinks it's a family, there is the problem. Bollywood is an imaginary name for a place of work, that's it. I am really not trying to put anybody down here and sorry if it seems," he wrote.
On Sunday, actor-producer Nikhil Dwivedi posted a strongly-worded tweet calling out the "hypocrisy" of the industry after people from the film fraternity wrote they regretted not staying in touch with the Chhichhore star.
"High and mighty announcing they should have kept in touch with Sushant. Come on, you didn't! And that's because his career dipped. So STFU! Are you in touch with Imran Khan, Abhay Deol and others? No! But you were, when they were doing well," Dwivedi said.
Similar sentiment was echoed by filmmaker Anubhav Sinha, who, without taking names, said the 'Bollywood Privilege Club' must sit down and think hard.
"Now don't ask me to elaborate any further," he tweeted.
Addressing outsiders, filmmaker Hansal Mehta wrote a long thread about the two ends of an artiste's time in the industry—the glorious successes and the crushing lows.
"There are many young 'outsiders' in this industry. Remember this: there is an establishment that will make you feel like the next big thing until they need you. They will drop you and mock you as soon as you falter. Do not fall for the trap. The ones that celebrate you will celebrate your downfall some time later," he tweeted.
Mehta said it's important for those who don't come from a film family to not force themselves to fit in.
"Just be authentic, follow your heart and stop seeking acceptance from anybody. Your connection should be with your art, your craft and with your audience. Nothing else matters. Over the years you will succeed, you will stumble. But remember that nothing is more important than you. Look after yourself. And know that you matter. The world is much bigger and wiser than what you perceive. So are opportunities. If you stay they will be yours. Lots of love. Never lose heart," the filmmaker wrote.
Shekhar Kapur tweeted a message for Sushant, talking about how he knew his pain. "I knew the pain you were going through. I knew the story of the people that let you down so bad that you would weep on my shoulder. I wish Iwas around the last 6 months. I wish you had reached out to me. What happened to you was their Karma. Not yours. #SushantSinghRajput (sic)," read Shekar's tweet.
Sushant Singh Rajput's last theatre release was Chhichhore. His next, Dil Bechara, was scheduled for a May 2020 release, however, it was delayed due to the novel coronavirus crisis. It will now be released on an OTT platform.