One year later, have we learnt anything from his tragic demise?
By Ashima Sethi
Exactly one year ago today, Bollywood lost a shining star. On 14th June 2020, actor Sushant Singh Rajput allegedly ‘committed suicide’ in his home in Bandra, Mumbai but the circumstances around his death remain questionable.
For those who’ve followed the case, the trail led to allegations from Sushant’s family against his then girlfriend Rhea Chakraborty, nasty allegations followed from her side of supporters against his claiming that Sushant was a disturbed drug addict, then came accusations that Rhea’s family siphoned off Sushant’s funds which then led to plenty of police and CBI interference, and their subsequent decision to have the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) round up some of B-town’s biggest names in a ‘drug sting’ that honestly…had nothing to do with his death altogether.
And to nobody’s surprise, 365 days later and we’re not any closer to figuring out what happened to the young star.
As Bollywood has been plagued by the mysterious deaths of so many young talents including Divya Bharti and Jia Khan, Sushant’s death brought some very important topics of conversation to the forefront. One such topic is about nepotism and the insidious underbelly of the film circuit that ensures the same names stay in power, and the ‘curse’ that befalls all who questions them (especially since we as Indians love to believe in the idea of nazar rather than face the cold hard facts).
Many became fans of Sushant because he broke the mould we’ve become so accustom to. He was a young man who became successful in Bollywood on his own accord, becoming proof that outsiders can succeed because of their talent. However, his struggle to land certain roles and the cancellation of a list of projects he had publicly been excited about shines a spotlight on the the insider vs. outsider debate. Did someone, or a group of certain people, want to teach him a lesson not to get too big for his boots? Unfortunately it looks like this is one question we might never have an answer for.
This fascination with power in Bollywood also boils over into the role of the police, as despite the case being incredibly high profile last year, it seems that as the months have gone by, the CBI have become increasingly tight lipped about what they’re working on, what they’ve found, and what they’ve concluded.
It was initially reported that a team of three intelligence sleuths were commissioned to uncover the truth about what happened to Sushant, whether it was a genuine act of suicide from a tormented soul, or something more sinister at work. For a while, the team were interrogating the late actor’s loved ones, colleagues, and more, but despite ‘working hard,’ they’ve yet to let the public in on what they’ve discovered.
So, another question that begs to be answered is whether the trail leads to a dead end, or did someone powerful step in and halt the investigation before it even saw light? Once again, we’ll never know.
If there was one important thing that was gained from the last year since Sushant’s death, is that the tragedy forced a lot of people to do some deep introspection about what we really know about the Bollywood fraternity or whether our version of reality is really what’s being sold to us on a silver platter. The situation also shone a glaring light on the way mental illness is viewed in India.
When Deepika Padukone came forward to take candidly about her battle with depression, she was applauded. When Sara Ali Khan opened up about her PCOD and struggle with body dysmorphia, she was celebrated for being a good role model for young women. However, when it was brought to light that Sushant sought professional help for his mental health, many were quick to trivialise his struggle, going so far as to mock him for needing a therapist and using terms like ‘crazy’ to describe his behaviour in his last days.
This clear difference is a reminder of how much the media can be leveraged to sway how we think about an individual, and how once again, Bollywood often plays favourites.
We might never know what happened to Sushant on the night he lost his life, but the fact that a year later and we’ve received no definitive information about what occurred is a situation we’ve all been in far too many times as B-town fans. So if there’s one thing we can actually learn from Sushant losing his life is that there’s a lot more to the industry than we’ll ever understand.
On the brighter side, as today marks the anniversary of his death, many have taken to the internet to show their love and support for the late star resulting in #SushantSinghRajput trending on platforms like Twitter. One fan wrote, “Forever in our hearts, always on our minds. Sushant lives on,” while another tweeted: “We will not stop until Sushant gets justice.”
Celebrities also commemorated the day with memorials for Sushant. Author Asjad Nazir, wrote “June 14th will always be a day of great sadness for us because Sushant was one of us. Those who have never struggled or had everything handed to them in life won’t understand that. NEVER FORGET.” Randeep Hooda, an actor and a friend of Sushant’s wrote, “Hope you are happy and at peace wherever you are brother.”
The CBI has since shared that the case is open and that they are ‘probing all angles,’ so all we can do is hope that the truth comes out…one day.