Exactly a month ago, Sushant Singh Rajput’s sudden death shook the country. His friends, family, colleagues, fans.. everyone seemed to mourn his loss deeply. As they should. But a lot of what has happened in the aftermath of Sushant’s death has been chaotic and unruly.
The news cycle in today’s day and age is pacier than ever. One day we’re talking about a rich, powerful public figure being accused of sexual assault, the next day we’ve moved on to the next trending topic. Yet how is it that even a month after a Bollywood actor’s unexpected demise, we can’t keep ourselves from speculating and dissecting the event? What is this desperate urge to rewrite and twist another person’s narrative and what’s the reason for it?
Very recently, the trailer of the last film that Sushant worked on, Dil Bechara, dropped on YouTube. A remake of the American novel and film, The Fault In Our Stars, Dil Bechara stars Sushant and Sanjana Sanghi. Honestly, now that Sushant is gone, it’s very natural for his fans to try to hold onto every bit of him. But SSR fans kind of went overboard with this one. They took screenshots of a scene from the trailer where Sushant is wearing a t-shirt that says “Help” and started connecting dots that didn’t even exist in the first place.
Fans pointing out the “Help” t-shirt is one thing but for publications to give legitimacy to the same by picking a handful of baseless tweets as a full story seems slightly irresponsible.
There have also been some purely speculative reports about an intimate relationship between Ssingh and Sushant’s former girlfriend Ankita Lokhande. If this isn’t Indian media at its lowest, then I don’t know what is. Even celebrity gossip needs to have some limits, doesn’t it?
In the days just after Sushant’s death, the incident had reignited a misplaced debate on nepotism in Bollywood. Now, a whole month later, the situation has somehow snowballed into something worse with multiple tangential arguments poking out of it. Let’s break it down.
The official post mortem report has declared that Sushant died of asphyxiation, yet there’s been this counter narrative that tries to baselessly promote the possibility of a homicide. When Kangana Ranaut called Sushant’s death a “planned murder,” it didn’t seem like she meant it literally. But things have changed. Actor-turned-MP Roopa Ganguly’s Twitter is flooded with demands for a CBI inquiry into Sushant’s Singh Rajput’s death.
#cbiforsushant #cbiforsushant #cbiforsushant #cbiforsushant #cbiforsushant #cbiforsushant #cbiforsushant #cbiforsushant #cbiforsushant #cbiforsushant #cbiforsushant #cbiforsushant #cbiforsushant #cbiforsushant #SushantSinghRajput @narendramodi@AmitShah@CMOMaharashtra pic.twitter.com/2oe18kJj68— Roopa Ganguly (@RoopaSpeaks) July 7, 2020
The sheer number of #cbiforsushant tweets that she has put out betrays her sincerity but her fixation isn’t the real problem. It’s the conspiracy theories she has been tweeting and retweeting that are worrisome and misleading.
These are unplanned informal collage of my mind that is reflecting upon my table top. # Questions, #thankyounotes , it’s all in one. #cbiforsushant #SushanSinghRajput #roopaganguly @AmitShah @NarendraModi pic.twitter.com/5ZP2m7QhNq— Roopa Ganguly (@RoopaSpeaks) June 30, 2020
Actor Shekhar Suman has been another vocal warrior at the forefront of this CBI inquiry battle. On 30 June, Shekhar Suman gave a press conference in Patna where he elaborately spoke about “gangism” in the film industry being the cause of Sushant’s death. During his, Suman alluded that Sushant may not have taken his life because he did not leave behind a suicide note and because the actor, apparently, changed 50 sim cards in the month before his death. The very next day, Sushant’s family called the press conference a and said that they weren’t aware it was going to happen. On 2 July, Suman clarified that his actions did not stem from any ulterior political motives.
I've no taste for politics,no inclination,no aptitude,no temperament.if given the choice i wdn't like to touch it with a ten feet barge pole.ppl are trying hard to stop me from going ahead with #justiceforSushantforum by insinuating ive political ambitions.— Shekhar Suman (@shekharsuman7) July 2, 2020
It’s curious that even though Suman and Sushant met on Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa almost a decade ago, Suman didn’t seem to care much about the actor until his death.
He claims to have taken it upon himself to fight Sushant’s justice battle as the actor’s family doesn’t have enough political support to do it themselves. But if it’s true, why isn’t the family saying that?
This is so disheartening,there is no family support,no political support.Things are not conducive around us and yet even after 3 weeks we have kept Sushant alive and will keep doing so.This perhaps makes it the biggest movement so far.#justiceforSushantforum— Shekhar Suman (@shekharsuman7) July 7, 2020
Over the past month, the Mumbai Police has made it clear that the investigation into Sushant’s death is underway, then why are people like Ganguly and Suman so adamant on pushing an alternative narrative? The only people who matter right now are Sushant’s family, and if they’re okay with the process then shouldn’t we let things be? Moreover, why is the media giving a voice to people who aren’t even remotely related to the Sushant incident?
Privacy, An Illusion
When TV media reporters barged into Sushant’s house in the wake of his death, we saw how little privacy mattered to them. A month later, we still haven’t learnt our lesson. Instead, we’ve made a complete mockery out of Sushant’s death.
In June, actor and dancer Lauren Gottlieb shared screenshots of a private conversation she had with Sushant before he died. I’m sorry but does consent not matter in the aftermath of someone’s demise? It’s one thing for the police to get access to Sushant’s private chats but for the entire internet? Nope.
Even actor Arjun Kapoor posted screenshots of his private conversation with Sushant. One could argue that the screenshot was of a generic conversation but ethically speaking, I’m still not convinced.
The public is obsessed with the little, seemingly private details of celebrities’ lives; it’s nothing new. But shouldn’t that change after someone’s death?
Lately, producer of the biopic PM Narendra Modi Sandip Ssingh has become very open about his relationship with former flatmate Sushant. His is an endless series of tributes to Sushant. On 20 June, Ssingh announced his directorial debut film Vande Bharatam which was apparently supposed to star Sushant. Now, we don’t know the truth but it sure does seem like Ssingh is capitalising on his so-called friend’s death, doesn’t it?
Further, Ssingh has also been reportedly speaking to the media about seemingly private details of Sushant’s relationship with former girlfriend Ankita Lokhande, when it’s not even his place.
Sushant’s family isn’t happy with Ssingh; they’ve him for using Sushant’s death for personal gains but that’s not stopping Ssingh.
Mental Illness, Media & More
On 8 July, filmmaker Apurva Asrani joined the parade with a long blog post with a very dramatic title “Do Words Have The Power To Kill?” In the 2,400 word-long (yes, I checked), Asrani essentially implies that Sushant was bullied and sidelined by the mainstream members of the industry and that pushed him to take his own life. It’s an incredibly self-centred piece that uses Asrani’s personal experiences to support a baseless backstory of Sushant. Ironically, Asrani starts off by criticising Twitter for saying that Sushant was “depressed” but isn’t Asrani doing the same by coming up with groundless theories about Sushant’s life? Who allowed him to speak for a man who can’t speak for himself anymore?
Asrani’s essay portrays a common pattern I’ve been noticing lately: that is the unwillingness to talk about mental health/illness without blaming it on external unsubstantiated factors.
Even TV actor Tarun Khanna recently took to Instagram to explain why it was impossible for Sushant to have been depressed because he was doing well for himself. If anything, his 10-minute rant only proves why it’s so important to speak about and normalise mental illnesses.
Having said that, the media being the fourth pillar and whatnot, needs to take a stand on what should and should not be reported. Not every Tom, Dick and Harry’s statement on Sushant's life needs coverage, even if it’s the actor’s himself launching a ‘Nepometer’ as a tribute.
Sushant’s last ten before his death, when he paid to his employees.. these are details that may get you clicks and page views but do they serve any purpose other than fuelling a fictitious agenda-driven narrative? They don’t.
Maybe it’s time to let Sushant Singh Rajput finally rest in peace..
. Read more on Hot Take by The Quint.28,498 New COVID Cases Take India’s Tally to 9.06 L; 23,727 DeathsIt’s About Time We Let Sushant Singh Rajput Rest In Peace . Read more on Hot Take by The Quint.