A politician known for his skills to whip up controversies and legal troubles out of thin air declares on Twitter and on TV that the help of 'money launderers' and 'professional killers' sitting in Dubai cannot be ruled out in Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death. His party men follow suit and release statements, accusing the kin of a top rival politician and demanding that the case be shifted to another state, and then to CBI.
A controversial actress who had no professional or personal friendship with Sushant Singh Rajput accuses a select set of people of murder and abetment to suicide and demands a CBI investigation tagging the prime minister in her tweets.
She is also churning out story after story about the actor’s past relationships and professional contacts, maligning not only the deceased but also the people who were close to him.
With the kind of ghosts that they unleash to contaminate the whole discussion, it is abundantly clear that they are on their own trip and want to target their enemies using this issue.
If the politician wants a polarising election issue, the actress wants a new controversy to stay relevant and probably wants a moral platform to enter politics. If you read this along with her past statements, a foray into politics in the next available opportunity can’t be ruled out.
To the satisfaction and “moral victory” of sorts for these people and their prime-time rabble-rouser anchors, the CBI has taken over the case. It was expected because the case was turning out to be the reason for a major tussle between two states ruled by rival parties.
The CBI team will now go through circumstantial evidence and the autopsy report thoroughly to see whether there is any reason to believe that Sushant’s death is suspicious. What’s more, the Enforcement Directorate or ED, which normally deals with major financial irregularities and scams, will go through credit card transactions, bank loan statements and other papers to ascertain whether there were any suspicious transactions from Sushant to his girlfriend and others.
Till proven otherwise, the police version that it is a case of suicide committed out of depression and bipolar disorder would stay valid. There will be no respite from the primetime shouting matches because the pandemic may delay the impending state elections that these parties have their eyes on.
Sushant’s Google search
Do disappointments and setbacks in career, broken relationships or the lack of close friends to share intimate personal issues drive people to depression and then to suicide? There are enough cases in this world that these indeed drive people towards drastic decisions. The primary investigation in the Sushant case had revealed that the actor had googled terms such as "schizophrenia", "bipolar disorder" and "painless death" hours before his death and the actor was on antidepressant medication.
All the conspiracy theories rely on the notion that Sushant was hale and healthy and had a thriving career before he started seeing setbacks due to alleged ban because of nepotism. If the medical evidence of bipolar disorder is indeed true, then it cancels many of the other theories of industry colleagues “driving” him to suicide, unless there are clear interventions that could stand the scrutiny of law.
Let us keep the conspiracy theories to rest for the time being as the investigation is only about to begin now. After all, our justice system does not allow anyone to be termed guilty until proven beyond doubt. Even to prima facie accuse anyone, you need at least some circumstantial evidence, a suicide note or something that directly links with a person. What we indeed have is a condition called bipolar disorder, a condition that many men and women carry as part of their lives. Let us see what this really means.
Bipolar disorder in reel life
Books and movies that deal with bipolar disorder suggest that the mental condition makes a person go through several mood swings and makes him/her live with a state of mind for a day to several weeks. Does a person with this disorder differently in everyday life? Not at all. If you want a real-life example of it, watch episode three of the Modern Love, Amazon’s eight-episode anthology series, which is an adaptation of the real-life stories featured in a New York Times column. In the episode titled “Take Me As I Am, Whoever I Am”, Anne Hathaway (The Princess Diaries, The Dark Knight Rises) plays Lexi, an entertainment lawyer who’s been hiding her bipolar diagnosis from colleagues, family and friends.
In the New York Times column piece that inspired this film in the anthology, Terry Cheney, who is the inspiration behind Lexi’s character, writes: “This darkness started for me in high school when I simply couldn’t get out of bed one morning. No problem, except I, stayed there for 21 days. As this pattern continued, my parents, friends and teachers grew concerned, but they just thought I was eccentric. After all, I remained a stellar student, never misbehaved and graduated as class valedictorian.”
She further writes about how she had excelled academically despite her mental illness. She sailed through law school and quickly found career success as an entertainment lawyer in Los Angeles, where she represented celebrities and major motion picture studios. “All the while I searched for help through an endless parade of doctors, therapists, drugs and harrowing treatments like electroshock, to no avail.” She further writes that other than doctors, nobody knew. “At work, where my skills and productivity were all that mattered, I could hide my secret with relative ease. I kept friends and family unaware with elaborate excuses, only showing up when I was sure to impress.”
Does that ring a bell? A person like Sushant who was living mostly alone unless he is travelling between places for shoots could have easily hidden his condition from most people who worked and interacted with him on a regular basis, which is natural and not reflective of any lack of intimacy in the relationships.
As Terry wrote: “I’ve finally accepted that there is no cure for the chemical imbalance in my brain, any more than there is a cure for love… Maybe I would find the courage. Maybe they would invent a cure.”
Did the girlfriend move out after realising that there is no cure for this and she cannot take it anymore? If that is the truth, is there a legal or ethical case to make against her? On the other hand, to give the devil its due, is his death indeed the handiwork of some Dubai don who was hired for a huge sum to eliminate an actor who was already battling back-to-back box office failures, a broken relationship and a depression? If the investigation proceeds seriously even after votes are cast in the Bihar elections, we would come to know.
As for Terry Cheney, who worked harder and learnt to live with her condition, she stopped her law practice and wrote two books, including a New York Times-bestselling memoir titled Manic. Wish Sushant had written his thoughts down in a few lines if it was indeed his decision to quit.
(Dress Circle is a weekly column on films. The author is a communication professional and film enthusiast. Read his past works here)