“People are constantly finding ways to explain how I’ve continued to survive in the industry. That’s their problem, not mine. I’m not trying to prove a point, I’m not in the race to be No. 1 because I have no plans of living a rat’s life.”
Sushant Singh Rajput, the eternal outsider to Bollywood, a man of humble beginnings, which are not considered a benchmark of a Bollywood “superstar”, made it big in the industry nevertheless. In death too, Sushant has stirred a much-needed conversation, that of mental health, well-being and the rot in Bollywood.
Sushant Singh Rajput was among the top five students in his class during school in Patna, and was passionate about Science in quite a unique way, a passion he housed till his last moments, before a braindead film industry pushed him to a corner. He was like any other Indian, a man with humble beginnings, and like many, pursued engineering after high school. He left engineering, however, to enter a ruthless industry, which we call Bollywood. Having lost his mother as a child, Sushant never had it easy in life. Yet, he rose to stardom.
Bollywood is a nasty industry, and having a recognizable and royal filmy surname is a prerequisite to make the cut in Mumbai. Talent, as we all know, has little to no place in the industry. Despite that, there are obviously a few who persevered and made a place for themselves. Perhaps, they did not have it as hard as Sushant did, because, at the end of the day, Bollywood killed an actor whose true potential in the industry was yet to be realized and tapped into.
The potential, which nobody was tapping into. Why? Because Sushant did not have a Bollywood lineage. Nobody airdropped Rajput into the industry, and certainly no producers today mourning his demise cared to hand him over a big and important project. MS Dhoni: The Untold Story was the best he got, and he won India over by living the character of India’s former captain on the silver screen. The iconic World Cup scene, for instance, showed how Sushant Singh Rajput lived the character truly, with intricate detail.
The snooty cartel of Bollywood, headed by the likes of Karan Johar, considered Sushant Singh Rajput a pariah. For how dare the boy from Patna challenge their rock-solid hegemony in film city? The Alia Bhatts of the world, who have been launched by Karan Johar, are the kind of people Bollywood should be comprised of, notwithstanding the fact that they are unaware of the President of India’s name.
Bollywood has many ‘insiders’, and a few ‘outsiders’. The former are a bunch of untalented characters who think they have conquered the art of acting. They are a mean spiteful lot, talking behind the backs of those who are not in their elitist circle. There are also outsiders, the likes of which include Ajay Devgn, who on multiple counts have given the hegemons a run for their money. Take for instance the 2016 Diwali fallout of Ajay and Karan, as a consequence of which Johar had to apologize on national television for his behaviour.
But Ajay Devgn is a superstar in his own right, and his existence in the industry is not hinged upon his relations with those in the elitist cabal. What would a Sushant Singh Rajput do, however, if he was not being given the chance to establish himself as a force to reckon with?
A February 2020 tweet is now doing the rounds on social media, stating that major production houses like Dharma Productions, Yash Raj Films, etc, have ‘banned’ Sushant Singh Rajput.
What can an outsider to an industry possibly do, when an entire ecosystem makes it their lives’ mission to inhibit the growth of a man? A person who has a survival instinct would do what it takes. He would try to be perceived as a part of the cabal. He would try to be a liberal. Therefore, Sushant Singh dropping the ‘Rajput’ from his surname during the Padmavat controversy now seems to makes sense. Although it cannot be said with certainty, it is now emerging that Sushant was trying to fit in, to no avail, however. Desperate times indeed call for desperate measures.
The film Chichhore, where Sushant played the role of a father trying to give his teenage son the hope to live, to fight another day, to not end his life over momentary failures, was not recognized by his peers as worthy of being awarded. His good work was hardly appreciated. Sushant Singh was repeatedly made to feel worthless. In a video where Sushant touches upon the subject of nepotism, his body language gives it all away. The man was reeling under pressure to be accepted by an unforgiving industry, even if not appreciated. Acceptance is the least one can expect from fellow humans. He wanted to say so much about nepotism, however, the thought of him being declared an outcast is what perhaps prevented him from going all-out against the criminals of Bollywood.
That’s how brutal Bollywood is to those they consider lesser mortals or those non-deserving of their empathy and support. As much as film stars today use these two words in their tweets, following Rajput’s demise, there is no discounting the fact that they all played a role in his death. Even as Bollywood worked overtime to jeopardize the career of Sushant, the man did not give up on his inclinations. He found solace in Science, and Physics.
A look at the actor’s Instagram profile will tell us that he was perhaps the only person in Bollywood with a nuanced and explicit scientific inclination, and was a person who was in awe of the universe. A Lord Shiva devotee he was, and his Instagram profile speaks volumes about his connection with dharma. In one of his posts, however, hinting at what he was going through, Sushant posted a picture of the Moon, and the caption given to the same was a classic ghazal sung by Jagjit Singh: Kal Chaudhvi Ki Raat Thi. A line in the ghazal goes like: “Iss shehar mei, kis se mile, humse toh chhooti mehfile.”
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हम भी वहीं, मौजूद थे हम से भी सब पुछा किए हम हंस दिए, हम चुप रहे मंज़ूर था परदा तेरा कल चौदहवीं की रात थी… इस शहर में किस्से मिलें हम से तो छूटी महफिलें हर शख्स तेरा नाम ले हर शख्स दीवाना तेरा कल चौदहवीं की रात थी… कूचे को तेरे छोड़ कर जोगी ही बन जायें मगर जंगल तेरे, पर्वत तेरे बस्ती तेरी, सेहरा तेरा कल चौदहवीं की रात थी… कल चौदहवीं की रात थी शब भर रहा चर्चा तेरा कल चौदहवीं की रात थी कुछ ने कहा ये चांद है कुछ ने कहा, चेहरा तेरा कल… ❤️ 🌓 💫💥
The insiders who killed Sushant are today talking about mental health and depression. Those reeling under a culture of drugs are suddenly pretending to be clinical anxiety experts. Those, who did not like the sight of Sushant, are today doing lip service, or rather, keyboard service in his memory. The media is running after Rajput’s family in Patna for sound bytes. It is leaking photos of his room and his body. All that must have disgusted Sushant while living, continues unabated even after he is gone.
Sushant Singh Rajput would have perhaps been among us today, had he not left his engineering course during the final year. He could be an engineer with a hefty monthly package. Yet, he chose to follow his dreams. Dreams, which are reserved for the star kids of India’s maximum city. Dreams, which a person from Patna can definitely not think of fulfilling in Mumbai’s star-studded industry. Dreams, of intelligent people like Sushant, which are not allowed to flourish by the coterie of elites in Bollywood. The dreams of an outsider, killed by Bollywood’s insiders.