A life lost, an industry exposed: Farewell, Sushant Singh Rajput!
At 34, it's difficult to comment on an actor's legacy. It's much easier to speculate on what the future could have been. Sushant Singh Rajput, the Bollywood star with an infectious smile, passed away on Sunday under tragic circumstances. What he leaves behind is stories and theories about an illustrious career. And (un)knowingly, he has also exposed Bollywood's unwelcoming and uninhabitable atmosphere.
Engineering, dancing and acting: A man of many talents
Sushant's life was fit for a Bollywood movie — a Patna boy scored AIR 7 in 2003's Delhi College of Engineering Entrance Examination, left studies in the third year for acting, danced in the background of choreographer Shiamak Davar's troupes, and learned acting in Barry John's classes before landing the lead actor's role in Ekta Kapoor's Pavitra Rishta. He then took the giant leap.
In his short career, Sushant worked in incredible movies
In 2013, TV industry's beloved Maanav got his Bollywood break with Kai Po Che!, and discreetly stole the limelight from Rajkummar Rao, regarded as Bollywood's breakthrough star, and Amit Sadh. His movies — Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!, M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story, Sonchiriya, Shuddh Desi Romance, Kedarnath, Raabta, and Chhichhore — show Sushant never confined himself to one genre, he was always game for experimentation.
He was a seeker and a philanthropist
Off the screen, Sushant wore "I am a nerd" badge with honor. He bought a Meade 14″ LX-600 telescope, happily flaunted it on social media, saying he would use it to watch Saturn rings. Always seen with a book on sets, everything piqued his interest, from filmmaking to astrophysics. In 2018, he donated Rs. 1 crore on his fan's behalf for Kerala floods.
Sushant worked hard for Bollywood, Bollywood let him down
Unfortunately, the industry from where Sushant sought solace, only shunned him away. After his demise, voices, even from within the industry, spoke up. A furious Sikander Kher asked people to keep quiet if they had nothing pleasant to say. A star kid himself (he is Anupam Kher's son), Sikander accepted Bollywood is a difficult place to be, where one can't find a companion.
"This is shattering"
Many had indications Sushant was struggling
Veteran filmmaker Shekhar Kapur tweeted Sushant broke down on his shoulder. He knew the actor was feeling alone and regretted not being with him in the last six months. Kangana Ranaut, known for her ferociousness, took Bollywood to the cleaners for perpetrating a culture where an "outsider" always felt alone. She lambasted journalists too for their demeaning blind stories.
Sushant shouldn't have believed the naysayers
Losing movies, demeaning blind articles affected Sushant
There were others who lamented not reaching out to Sushant. His Drive producer Karan Johar, and co-stars Jacqueline Fernandez and Amit Sadh apologized. But emotional tributes didn't make for the sheer abandon which Bollywood handed over to Sushant. Reports suggest being replaced in movies hurt him. The blind articles where he was painted as a sex-addict and a wannabe made matters worse, believe some.
His demise also brought out the worst in journalism
Journalistic ethics weren't upheld when he lived, and neither when he died. Some media channels sent reporters to Sushant's Patna home, they did their "duty" of shoving a mic towards the grieving father or showing images of his pain. Some mentioned the color of the cloth used for the suicide, some dissected why he "failed" in Mumbai, others "blamed" him for being weak.
Mukesh Bhatt confessed he found something amiss in Sushant
Ironically, it was one of Bollywood's "insiders" who conceded this isn't the first time a star was driven to take such a step. Producer Mukesh Bhatt said he "saw it coming" and that Sushant was following the footsteps of Parveen Babi, who passed away in 2005. Her dead body remained in her apartment for three days. Bhatt said Sushant seemed disconnected and disturbed.
Sushant's movie ended, his story will be remembered
For an industry that fancies itself as a "family", loves promoting each other's movies, and celebrating together, Bollywood really has closed its doors. With all his talent and charm, Sushant never felt welcomed and appealed to people on social media to watch his movies. He will always be remembered as the one who made it big but sadly couldn't join the A-club.