Actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s untimely death has prompted a shocked Bollywood to introspect on why outsiders find it so hard to get a foothold into an industry which many directors and actors say is ruled by its own people.
Rajput was found dead in his Bandra apartment on Sunday. He was 34.
A complete outsider who studied to be an engineer, the Patna-born actor rose through the ranks from a background dancer to a television star and finally got his Bollywood debut with “Kai Po Che!”, which released only seven years ago.
Rajput had his fair share of success in films like “M S Dhoni: The Untold Story” and “Chhichhore”.
His tragic death has led many to question the “privileged groups” and “camps” in the industry.
Filmmaker Shekhar Kapur hinted in his recent post that Rajput was let down by his industry peers. The director and the actor were trying to work on their ambitious project “Paani” but it got shelved.
“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 I was around the last 6 months. I wish you had reached out to me. What happened to you was their Karma. Not yours. #SushantSinghRajput,” Kapur tweeted on Sunday.
Dibaker Banerjee, the director of Rajput’s 2015 detective drama “Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!”, also talked about how outsiders need double the talent and hard work to make it in the industry.
“The biggest unfairness in all this is that it takes double the talent, energy and hard work for an outsider to convince the audience and the industry that he or she is as safe a box office bet as a mediocre, unmotivated and entitled establishment elite,” Banerjee told PTI.
Without taking any names, actor Ranvir Shorey said the powerful in Bollywood hold all the cards.
“It wouldn’t be fair to blame someone for a step that he took himself. He was playing a high stakes game, where it’s win or lose it all. But something has to be said about the self appointed ‘gatekeepers of Bollywood’.
“Something has to be said about the games they play and their two facedness. Something has to be said about the power they wield with zero accountability,” Shorey, who worked with Rajput in critically-acclaimed feature “Sonchiriya”, said.
Actor Gulshan Devaiah said it is about who gets to wield the power.
“The winners of this battle will turn out exactly like the losers they manage to beat. This is not about right or wrong, this is about who gets to wield the power. You may have picked your sides but you are just a pawn & that’s your only purpose. Are you ok with that?” the actor argued.
Actor Vivek Oberoi called Rajput’s death a “wake-up call” for the industry.
“I hope our industry that calls itself a family, does some serious introspection, we need to change for the better,” he said, adding that people should stop the power play and ego trips and acknowledge deserving talents.
“This family needs to truly become a family…a place where talent is nurtured and not crushed, a place where an artist feels appreciated and not manipulated,” he said in a post.
Many also questioned the role of media in promoting the high and mighty in Bollywood.
Banerjee said, “The media colludes in this by wallowing in family, coterie and celebrity worship. This leads to deep anger and frustration. Those who can let this slide survive.
“Those who can’t – those who hurt a little more or are vulnerable and impressionable – they are at risk.”
Actor Raveena Tandon shared her story of bullying at the hands of certain individuals and how fake stories were planted against her years ago.
“‘Mean girl’ gang of the industry. Camps do exist. Made fun of, been removed from films by heroes, their girlfriends, journo chamchas and their career destroying fake media stories. Sometimes careers are destroyed. You struggle to keep afloat. Fight back. Some survive, some don’t. #oldwoundsrevisited (sic)” she wrote in a thread.
Actor Amol Parashar, best known for his role in TVF show “Tripling”, said Rajput’s death had shaken young actors like him.
“Young actors are shaken, including me. In a manner and degree that is a little unexpected and unexplained. I can feel it in my bones and flesh, I have seen it in the eyes of the few people I have seen since yesterday, I have heard it in the voices of friends I have spoken to,” he said in a long Twitter thread.
“In a profession as uncertain as this, you need sources of hope, whether from your own life or others’, whether real or imagined. Sushant was one of the ‘biggest’ names in recent times to come from out of this town, and therefore a source of hope for similar young boys and girls, he added.