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Sorry Sushant! We killed you!

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I saw Sushant Singh Rajput in 2013 in Comedy Nights with Kapil show, and my first reaction was “He is going to be the next Shahrukh Khan of Bollywood, an outsider who will become the best and most successful actor in future”. He also belonged to my home district Patna and was an engineer like me, so I shared an emotional connection with him. As he started from “zero money and zero publicity” and reached the heights of success, it further enhanced my respect for him, as he was a symbol of an aspirational Indian , who wanted to achieve their dreams and become successful.

But suddenly, we heard that he has committed suicide in his apartment. Many co-actors outpoured their grief on Twitter, asking ” Why Sushant! Why?”. Many others also extended their support that they understood his pain but they are sorry for “not being in touch”. Some went to the extent of saying that his depression was the cause of his death, and he should have sought help for treatment of mental health. Some even called him unstable, mentally unfit, etc. But as Vivek Oberoi tweeted, this is a blatant hypocrisy, where the system has killed him.

In this article, I will argue how Sushant suicide was driven by the institutions of Bollywood, actors,  media, Bihar state, political parties and the common man, whose acts of omissions and commission have failed him.

Lets first look at role of institutions of Bollywood who have driven Sushant towards depression. After his successful movie M.S.Dhoni, he was offered “Paani movie” by director Shekhar Kapoor. He worked for six months for preparing this movie by loosing his weight and researching about the character. But, as Shekhar Kapoor confessed in his live show, the producer of Yash Raj films Aditya Chopra cancelled the project saying, “Hum nahi banayenge Sushant ke saath. Paani nahi banegi”.

Over the past few years, Sushant was replaced in several big banner films including Sanjay Bhansali”s “Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela” and Aditya Chopra”s “Befikre”. (Incidentally, his replacement in both films, Ranveer Singh– although a self-made superstar and an undeniable talent — is related to the Anil Kapoor clan. He is Sonam Kapoor’s cousin.)

Similarly, after the release of his superhit film Chichore in 2019, he had signed seven films only to be revoked in just six months. Further, his film Drive was released just after the success of Chichore, to puncture his growing popularity as a mature actor. This film was shot in 2017 itself with the Dharma productions, headed by Karan Johar, but was not released, as the movie was of not satisfactory. Further, it was released by Dharma productions on Netflix, and not in Theatres. This upset Sushant and he expressed his unhappiness over this issue to Karan Johar, only to be blocked by Dharma productions and others.

These production houses forms a cartel (a group of people , who promote their selfish interests, at the cost of others) and determine the fate of the actors. If any hero or director doesn’t act as per their whims, then they are boycotted and their career destroyed. The recent controversy was about Abhinav Kashyap, director of Dabangg, but was subsequently exploited and dropped from Dabang franchise, to the benefit of Salman khan and family.

Further, can anyone forget the ordeal of Vivek Oberoi and Arijit Singh, whose career has been ruined by Salmaan Khan, after they expressed their personal grudges against him. These are self-proclaimed gate-keepers of Bollywood, who determine whose career has to be promoted and who has to be crushed down.

These cartelised gatekeepers also promote kids from their own family and friends, as seen in the rise of Varun Dhawan, Alia Bhatt, etc. who were backed by their fathers David Dhawan and Mahesh Bhatt. Even Uday Chopra was promoted by his brother Aditya Chopra in movies like Dhoom. Even some independent producers like Anurag Kashyap, dares to take an initiative in film making, they threaten the movie distributors and screens like PVR, Innox, etc. This was the case in Sonchiriya, where Sushant’s film was not allowed to be screen in most theatre screens, leading its revenue collection of just 4 crores. This helped these cartel houses to support their argument that Sushant is a flop actor, while hiding their power plays, in throttling the success of the movie.

The argument given by these cartel groups is that, star kids have the natural ability to act from day one, and the producers have a freedom to choose where they want to invest their money, because they are taking risks in producing these films. However, nepotism cannot be justified, even if it is prevalent, because it eliminates the equality of opportunity which every aspiring actor has been promised in Bollywood, while showing him a dream of becoming an Actor. If we allow such nepotism to persist, it will justify the argument that, politician son only will become politician, doctor son only will become doctor, Judges son will become judge, etc..This will erode the meritocracy and competition in the country and damage the institution itself in the long run, and the country at large. After all, Bollywood is a symbol of India’s soft power also in the international stage, and thus should be transparent and accountable for its failures.

The award shows also are done to boost the public image of these stars, backed by these gatekeepers, to legitimize their choices of low grade actors by projecting that the decision was made by independent jurists, which is obviously a fraud. In Sushant’s case, he had not received any award so far, inspire of many hits like Kai Po Che, M S Dhoni, Chichore, etc. On the other hand, Ananya Pandey has received the debut filmfare award, because of her lineage of her father, Chunky Pandey. When gully boy was given 13 filmfare awards, Sushant was given none for M S Dhoni in the same show. Thus, these award shows have become a means to promote their fraternity, while crushing the work of real talented people.

Electronic Media and social media has also danced to the tunes of these gatekeepers, and has acted as a Public perception management agency. They find every story of star kids interesting while neglecting the aspiring actors like Sushant. For ex, they plant or find abundant stories from their “sources”, to publish the events concerning lives of future Star kids , as seen in articles concerning Taimur Ali Khan diet, his walking or jumping skills, and swimming schedules of Suhana Khan, daughter of Shahrukh Khan. But, they don’t find the life of aspiring talented self-made actors boring. Actually, they are warming the sets and creating public expectations for these Star Kids, which would then by occupied by them later. Further, if an aspiring actor make any comment which hurts the sentiments of these Star Kids or their Godfathers, then an army of Social Media trolls led by them is set in action. They flood the accounts with personal abuses and misogamy, to force these actors into silence. Thus, the actors gets disconnected from their real fans, who could have acted as a source of support for them during times of self-doubt.

The people of north India, are also to blamed for this. All north Indians, especially Biharis basked in the glory of his success, as he belonged to Patna. After all, “Bihari” word has become a slang in south India, and Sushant intellectual, physical or linguistic skills had the ability to change the public perception , because of rising stardom in Bollywood. He was Bihar’s biggest soft power across India , but no person with economic, political or social  power backed him up. Sometimes, I wonder if CM Nitish Kumar, or Union Minister Ram Bilash Paswan or former Home secretary R K Singh or Vedanta Chairman Anil Agarwal, has just said him, that “We are there to support you in all possible ways. Just go and fight with the unfair world”, would this not have given him the courage and reduced his loneliness and helplessness in the ruthless world of Bollywood. Sadly, no one did anything to encourage him, but only wanted to be associated with him in public discussions.

Even the Hindutva organizations like RSS, who occasionally advocates for boycotting Khans and promoting Hindu actors, didn’t helped him either in fighting against the injustices of the institutions. They only believed in boycott strategies of the Khan films, but they never tried to find an alternative strategy for doing the same. Sushant had the talent and the ability, and had high visibility across the country, especially after his success of M S Dhoni movie. Sadly, they didn’t intervened here , but only used trolls to boycott actors like Aamir Khan and Shahrukh khan. So, Sushant was left alone fight the unjust system.

Finally, we the people of India are equally guilty for this tragedy. We have become mindless consumers of entertainment, who will watch any film made by a superstar or his kids . This encourages these gatekeepers of Bollywood, assume that they can dictate who can become a hero, because people don’t use their conscience while watching movies. They will accept any Star Kid. This gives them the power to sideline many talented actors, like Manoj Vajpayee, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Sushant Singh, etc. Any Khan movie can easily earn 200-500 crores , even if it is full of cheap talks , as seen in recent Salman Khan and Shahrukh Khan movies. On the other hand, recent Sushant singh movie, Sonchiraye earned just 4 crore because it was not marketed enough. Had the common man boycotted the movies of the nepotistic clubs, then they would have been forced to promote real talented heroes . Sadly, Indian movie consumers are found lacking here!

Well certainly, I don’t justify the step taken by Sushant, as suicide is never a solution. He should have fought back against the rotten system, just like Kangana Ranaut did. However, it cannot be denied that the entire system has failed him. Perhaps, his loneliness arising from his separation from his mother and girlfriend, had  amplified his sufferings. May we could not see the tears behind his smiles. He had fought this systen, alone for the last 16 years in Bollywood. Perhaps, beyond a point, a person becomes to weak to endure his sufferings, as he finds himself completely helpless and sees no light at the end of the tunnel. What cannot be denied is that, we have a lost a talented actor and his loss will hurt us for a long time. We can only hope that we introspect and take corrective measures, so that another Sushant does gets compelled to commit suicide again.

I wish the words of Rabindra Nath Tagore is realized,
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls.
Where words come out from the depth of truth,
where tireless striving stretches its arms toward perfection.
In to that heaven of freedom, my father,

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