Bollywood star Sushant Singh Rajput poses during a photo shoot.
Sushant Singh Rajput's suicide has sparked off a conversation around the ruthless ways of Bollywood's power camps -- especially for young aspirants who come to realise their dreams as 'outsiders' from all over India, with no bloodline to flaunt.
The general sense that the film and television industry does not care for its own -- unless you are an offspring of the industry - is not new. It was gaining ground over the past decade or so.
Only, the subject started being widely discussed after actress Kangana Ranaut spoke of it a while back, ironically on "Koffee With Karan", the chat show hosted by Karan Johar, often accused of being the grand dad of nepotism in Bollywood for his penchant at casting star kids in projects that prop their budding careers.
His brief Bollywood career of six years, starting from the urban multiplex hit "Kai Po Che" in 2013, to his final release, last year's bumper hit "Chhichhore", has a healthy flow of box office successes, which also established him as a credible actor.
So then, why did films things to a pass that whispers doing the rounds in the industry and on social media began suggesting all the powerful banners of Bollywood had 'boycotted' him?
Kangana, for one, seems convinced that Sushant's deserving films and work were never acknowledged, particularly at the award ceremonies. She also snubs the argument that he committed suicide because of depression, owing to a 'weak mind'.
"How can his mind be weak? If you look at his last few posts, he is clearly saying, literally begging, 'Watch my films. I have no Godfather. I will be taken out of the industry'. In his interviews, he had expressed why the industry wasn't accepting him. So is there no foundation of this incident? He never got acknowledgement for his films, no awards for his films like 'Kedarnath', 'Chhichhore' and 'MS Dhoni: The Untold Story'. Films like 'Gully Boy' got all the awards," Kangana said in a video message on Monday, a day after Sushant was found hanging at his Bandra residence.
The theory finds resonance in the words of politician Sanjay Nirupam, whose tweet says Sushant lost seven films, which he had signed, even after the success of "Chhichhore".
"He lost the films in just six months. Why? The film industry's ruthlessness works on a very different level. And that ruthlessness took the life of one talented person," Nirupam posted.
The point becomes clear when one looks at Sushant's journey from small screen to big screen.
Even in the films that fared below box-office expectations --"Detective Byomkesh Bakshi", "Shudh Desi Romance", "Sonchiriya" and "Raabta" -- his acting was universally acclaimed as faultless.
So, why did he lose out on projects?
According to hearsay, 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.)
However, Sushant never revealed any sign of depression owing to the rejections. If he faced difficulties being an outsider, he had learnt to take it in his stride.
In an interview Sushant gave to the media a while back, he conceded that industry insiders get "slightly more room" but he insisted it did not matter.
"Yeah, it does get very difficult. It is difficult for everybody because we have heard about some very successful outsiders' stories too, and unfortunately not-so-very successful insiders' stories. So, in the long run, it doesn't matter, but for a short period of time. The insiders are given slightly more room to actually downplay their failures and magnify their success," Sushant had told.
Things, though, have systematically worsened since that interview. The Bollywood Privilege Club, as filmmaker Anubhav Sinha likes to call them, has only grown in strength.
"The Bollywood Privilege Club must sit down and think hard tonight. P.S. - Now don't ask me to elaborate any further," Sinha expressed, after Sushant's demise on social media.
Celebrity stylist Sapna Bhavnani minced no words. "It's no secret Sushant was going through very tough times for the last few years. No one in the industry stood up for him nor did they lend a helping hand.
"To tweet today is the biggest display of how shallow the industry really is. No one here is your friend."
Filmmaker Shekhar Kapur posted an indicative tweet, reading: "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 six months. I wish you had reached out to me. What happened to you was their Karma. Not yours."
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