Why Sushant Singh Rajput's death is a wake-up call for Bollywood

This isn't the first time someone with immense potential got the short end of the stick in the Hindi film business on account of being an outsider.

 |  4-minute read |   20-06-2020
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When it comes to the so-called insider's club of Hindi film industry, those who walk the walk, talk the talk and play the game, and somehow manage to enter the fold, are embraced and taken care of but everything and everyone else is brushed aside.

Film industry norms

Usually, the one outside this inner hallowed circle is laughed at and even death, sometimes, isn't the end. The death of Sushant Singh Rajput, arguably one of the most talented and sparkling young actors to grace Hindi cinema in a long time, is nothing less than a wake-up call for both the fans as well as the industry to take a long look at the way they chose to not question something that is ostensibly wrong on numerous accounts. Following Rajput's death, videos of celebrity talk shows and award functions featuring him inundated social media platforms that further revealed a clear divided within the world of Hindi films. These were talk shows where Rajput wasn't invited and award functions where he was singled out.

main_bollywood_reute_062020105622.jpgThe industry prides itself on being one, large, happy family that loves to protect those on the inside. (Photo: Reuters)

There would be a few who would say that a Karan Johar asking whom would Alia Bhatt 'marry', 'kill' or 'hook up with' and her opting to 'kill' Sushant Singh Rajput is a silly game that their likes play at chat shows. At the same time, Shah Rukh Khan and Shahid Kapoor mocking Rajput by inviting him on the stage at an awards function that the entire world was watching, could well be a scripted skit. But it's not for the first time that some 'insiders' did this, in fact, this has been almost a part and parcel of the industry's standard operating procedure for a long time.

Beneath the glamour

The industry prides itself on being one, large, happy family that loves to protect those on the inside. It also loves to guard its dysfunctional nature and therefore, horror tales of domestic abuse, physical intimidation, mental harassment, and what have you all in the broad category of 'ghar ki baat.' Some years ago, Shah Rukh Khan and Saif Ali Khan cracked jokes at Vidya Balan's expense at another edition of an awards function. What happened to Rajput at the hands of Shah Rukh Khan and Shahid Kapoor also happened to Ayushmann Khurrana. The newcomer, who burst upon the scene, Khurrana was ragged by SRK and Shahid 'Sasha' Kapoor, who suggested that like other professions, there should be a test for entry into the film industry too. In the 'gag', while Kapoor took Khurrana's test, Shah Rukh Khan broke a prop bottle on Ayushmann Khurrana's head. The audience continued to laugh as the two pushed Ayushmann off the stage. A few years later when Rajput was bullied similarly, Khurrana was in the audience and put on a wry smile.

Death of an outsider

This isn't the first time someone with immense potential got the short end of the stick in the Hindi film business on account of being an outsider.

main_sushant-singh-r_062020110032.jpgSushant Singh Rajput’s death is a wake-up call for the fans and the industry for choosing to not question something that is ostensibly wrong on numerous accounts. (Photo: India Today/ Bandepp Singh)

Potshots have routinely been taken at Kangana Ranaut by nearly everyone who qualifies as an insider once the actor brought out the nepotism issue. At awards functions and talk shows the likes of Karan Johar, Varun Dhawan and Saif Ali Khan and a host of others have made fun of Kangana's sartorial sense and her English speaking skills. This isn't the first time someone in the industry was pushed over the edge on account of how things functioned. A few years ago, Jiah Khan decided to end her life leaving behind a heart-wrenching suicide note where she mentioned that the heartbreak caused by a failed relationship with actor Suraj Pancholi, the son of Aditya Pancholi and Zarina Wahab, killed her enthusiasm and that a career in films was not worth it anymore.

Hours after the news of Sushant Singh Rajput's death, Saif Ali Khan chastised Bollywood's sudden outpouring of love for the deceased actor as hypocrisy. Ali Khan felt that the 'cutthroat' industry did not care about anyone but found it pathetic to blame someone or draw camps out. The industry might cry hoarse deriding that there isn't any privilege club but what else is a privilege but to revel in not knowing that it hurts others and then not listening when they tell them.

(Courtesy of Mail Today)

Also read: Sushant Singh Rajput commits suicide: We cannot deal with language of death

Writer

Gautam Chintamani Gautam Chintamani @gchintamani

Cinephile, observer of society and technology and author of the of Dark Star: The Loneliness of Being Rajesh Khanna.

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