Disillusioned fans of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput, who committed suicide on June 14, burnt effigies in Patna of powerful Bollywood actors and directors as a mark of protest against nepotism.
Figures that were destroyed included that of producer-director Karan Johar, star kid Alia Bhatt and superstar Salman Khan, who they believe were indirectly instrumental in Rajput’s death. Protesters held placards slamming nepotism and calling for boycotts of their films. A large garlanded portrait of Rajput was also carried.
Apart from the fan-led sloganeering against Bollywood power-brokers, who encourage favouritism and hostility towards certain outsiders, actors and directors have also been facing wrath online. The hashtag #JusticeforSushantSinghRajput has been doing the rounds.
A dominant narrative is that Rajput, an outsider from Patna who made it on his own steam with hits like ‘Kai Po Che!’, was unofficially boycotted by a select group of influential producers and actors. Rajput, whose last film was ‘Drive’ on Netflix, allegedly lost six movie projects that he had signed after his 2019 film ‘Chhichhore’.
Actors like Sonam Kapoor Ahuja, born to actor Anil Kapoor and part of a family of film producers, who attempted to defend the likes of Johar faced online ire.
But actress Kangana Ranaut posted a video claiming that Rajput did not get the recognition that he deserved during his lifetime.
“Sushant’s only fault is that he believed them when they called him ‘worthless’. He didn’t remember what his mother told him. It is up to us now to decide who will write the history,” said Ranaut.
Rajput’s death has triggered debates on mental health and divided the industry. Bollywood royalty like Saif Ali Khan has implored everyone to maintain dignity while mourning the star.
Actress Raveena Tandon also joined the noise by openly tweeting about the ‘mean girl gangs’ of Bollywood and those dreaded ‘camps’ that encourage favouritism. She claimed she has been removed from films by actors and their girlfriends.