Repeat after me: Rhea Chakraborty’s arrest for allegedly procuring drugs for her late boyfriend Sushant Singh Rajput does not prove that she is a murderer.
The voyeuristic visuals of her being arrested on Tuesday afternoon by the Narcotics Control Bureau in Mumbai, who are probing the drug angle in relation to Rajput’s death on June 14, is being made out to be some sort of closure or achievement of justice for Rajput.
It’s being hailed as a watershed moment in the investigation, but we hate to break it to you — her arrest has not gotten us any closer to the truth. We are still in the dark about whether Rajput was murdered or driven to suicide due to outside factors or his own mental health troubles.
First, she was accused by Rajput's father KK Singh of many crimes, including abetting Rajput's suicide, transferring huge amounts of money out of his account and even poisoning him. Nothing has come out of those accusations so far.
Now, Chakraborty’s arrest over an alleged 59 grams of marijuana has been documented by television channels in a highly salacious manner that would put a soap opera to shame. The drama has merely shined a light on the substance abuse issue that is rampant in the dazzling Hindi film industry.
Bollywood is a decadent playground filled with glamorous players who take immense pride in self-commodification and presenting a flawless persona. Chakraborty’s arrest — which is based on the charges of procuring drugs for Rajput, but not for consuming drugs — has merely underlined how the pressure of being perfect can take a toll on public figures.
Perhaps, drugs could be one of their crutches to survive this highly volatile profession with steep highs and soul-crushing lows.
A smokescreen and a distraction
But in all this brouhaha, it should not be forgotten that arresting a 28-year-old actress hopeful is simply a smokescreen and a distraction to all the grime that’s plaguing the Indian economy today.
It’s a sly way to divert our attention from matters that actually matter — such as the spiralling body count in a pandemic-plagued India or the decaying economy studded with job losses and all-round apathy towards human suffering.
Perhaps, actor and musician Shashank Arora hit the nail on the head when he tweeted right after her arrest: “Indians in 2020 believe more in a woman’s witchcraft capabilities than the possibility of mental health disorders.”
While it’s a convenient and comfortable narrative to assume that a wicked woman led an unsuspecting, adoring and dashing man — in this case Sushant Singh Rajput — astray with drugs and black magic, the jubilation on display at Chakraborty’s arrest is simply an exercise in deep-seated misogyny.
Director Anubhav Sinha’s tweeted: “I have two questions. 1) Is it murder 2) Was he being force administered narcotic substances.”
His guess is as good as ours.
The bottom line is that Chakraborty, who is the prime accused in Rajput’s death case, hasn’t given us any leads to his relevant questions. All we know so far is that Rajput was an alleged habitual drug user and his girlfriend may have procured him drugs.
On any given day, a star-studded Bollywood party is known for its wild, outrageous debauchery. While we don’t condone substance use, there’s no denying that Chakraborty’s arrest is an empty, hollow victory. Look at the bigger picture.
Yes, there’s an army of adoring Rajput’s fans and his family who are desperately seeking closure. The media industry is also having a field day with a spike in TV viewership fuelled by theatrics more than actual facts. However, Chakraborty shouldn’t be reduced to a sacrificial lamb to appease millions of angry and disillusioned people.
The hashtags that have been trending since her arrest such as #SorryBabu (a vitriolic jibe at the actress for uttering those exact words to her dead boyfriend at the hospital) and #RheaArrested also reveals the toxic level of virtual spite being spewed at Chakraborty.
Isn’t it easy to hate on a woman who isn’t as powerful, rich, arrogant and bratty as Salman Khan — the Bollywood superstar accused of drunk driving and running people over a pavement?
While it isn’t fair to compare crimes or measure people with the same yardstick, it’s unfortunate that the majority of movie-mad Indians and the legal/state machinery are eager to pin all the blame on Chakraborty.
The inconvenient truth is that she might be convicted for procuring drugs, but nowhere does it indicate that she’s destroyed Rajput’s existence with her wily ways. Chakraborty is innocent until proven guilty. And that’s all we know for a fact.