Celebrity suicides are not easy to come to terms with. They shake the very core of every single person who has had the opportunity to watch them, every single person who has known them, and every single person who themselves have thought of suicide as a way out. This form of an 'escape' as popular culture so wrongly puts it, is never quite explained. No one knows why a person would end their life. This life, that Bollywood has taught us to celebrate and make peace with. But zindagi ka saath nibhate chale jaana is not for everyone. Har gham ko dhuwe mein udate chale jaana is not for everyone. We will not know why people give up on life. Why Sushant Singh Rajput, who, by the societal yardstick had 'everything', would want to pull that noose on himself.
It has been a week since Sushant's death. India has gone from denial to shock to acceptance to conspiracy theories et al in these eight days. The media picked up the story and dissected it, laid it threadbare, but no one quite reached an answer. Because when someone dies by suicide, there is no answer. The person left without leaving an answer for his millions of grieving fans. So people tend to clutch on to bits of the past and piece together an answer. An answer that might help them cope with the loss of a loved one, as a certain big star put it in a late-night tweet yesterday. But we won't go to Salman Khan to ask for answers. We won't go to Karan Johar either. But it sure is time for a conversation.
We will never know why Sushant Singh Rajput, who, by the societal yardstick had 'everything', would want to pull that noose on himself. (Photo: Facebook)
After this suicide, an 'outsider' mutiny almost took over social media. It was heartening to see voices, a few, but still, voices, speaking out about why outsiders got a raw deal in Bollywood. How the cliques shut out anyone who did not belong and anyone who did not toe the line. In a world paved with the paparazzi, the one who dared to peer into his telescope and gaze at the stars up there instead of the ones on ground around him, was spoken of as a misfit.
The image of a star is more often than not manufactured. It is carefully constructed, by talent management agencies and production houses. Link-ups, break-ups, blinds; a lot of it is orchestrated by a few people in Bollywood who hold the strings to these. Sushant Singh Rajput tried to fit in, initially. We saw him performing at award functions, swallowing horrible jibes at his name and films, all for 'entertainment'. He got some of those awards. You please the powers, the powers please you. That's the nexus that has always been in place in Bollywood. But he 'got bored'.
Now many in Bollywood also happen to have 'friends' in the media. So when a certain actor - too bright by, again, society's definition of 'actors' - emerges and delivers hits, it is not taken lightly. I have seen an 'obituary' by an Editor of a gossip website who found Sushant Singh Rajput 'too arrogant'. In great detail, on the day of his suicide, this Editor went on to deconstruct this unusual hero of our times, who had 'no reason to be arrogant' because 'he was from television and not a breakout Bollywood star yet'. Not finding small-talk interesting is not arrogant. Being aloof to gossiping and pursuing one's passion is not weird.
But that's how images are created. When a star does not fall at an editor's feet, 'does not smile', he is immediately shunned as 'arrogant'. This Editor reveals in the course of that obit, that he had met Sushant twice. Twice. And in two times, the person passed that heavy judgment on the actor. On the very day that he died.
After Sushant's suicide, an 'outsider' mutiny almost took over social media. (Photo: Twitter/@itsSSR)
Another editor spent years writing 'blind' after 'blind' on Sushant Singh Rajput. On how he had 'the face of a truck driver', how he was an 'overpaid outsider', and how he was a 'skirt chaser'. These were all attributed to that Little Birdie who supposedly passed on this information to the writer of those blinds. The Little Birdie is usually someone with an agenda. When you see only one person being maligned day in and day out, the person becoming a fixture in these 'blind' items, you are forced to think something somewhere is amiss. That all of this is happening at someone else's behest.
But there is no accountability.
So while an otherwise active Karan Johar has stayed off social media since Sushant's death, several star kids have disabled their comments or taken haters head-on. There are abuses, conspiracy theories, some bordering on filth, on social media. But there is a conversation too. Our job is to listen to this conversation. To cut out the noise from this cacophony, but listen nevertheless. Of how Bollywood cliques, hand-in-hand with columnists, destroy people's public images. That talent should be the determining factor in who goes how far in the film industry, but seldom is.
The Bhatt brothers having seen Parveen Babi in him is an insult to our collective intelligence. It takes expertise to understand mental health issues. It takes nothing to declare someone troubled.
By now, a week after his death, his death has become about everything but the circumstances of his life and career. Mental health is a topic we can never talk enough about, but fronting mental health to avoid a conversation about the harsh realities of the film industry is a copout that will dismantle many more fragile minds of many more Sushant Singhs.
Sushant Singh Rajput did not die to 'expose' these Bollywood biggies. But his death can help expose a lot that Bollywood doesn't want seen. For that, a conversation is necessary. Not our quiet.