After June 14 – the day actor Sushant Singh took his life, the glitter of Tinsel Town faded and the attacks began to roll in.
As venomous strikes were made against the movie industry in India and its members, and some lashed out at the conditions of working in it, The Producers Guild of India has remained silent – until now.
On Friday evening, the group issued a statement on Twitter addressing Rajput’s death and the political and media maneuvers that came after.
In the statement, it said: "The last few months have seen relentless attacks on the reputation of the Indian film industry across all media. The tragic death of a promising young star has been used by some as a tool to defame and slander the film industry and its members."
"A picture has been painted of the industry as a terrible place for outsiders to aspire to; a place that treats those who dare to enter it with contempt and derision; a murky den of substance abuse and criminality. This narrative is salacious enough for the media to exploit to great effect in order to boost its ratings, readership and page views."
But it is not the truth, it insisted.
The statement did not deny the less-than-stellar qualities of Bollywood. It said:
"Like any other sector there is no doubt that the film industry has its imperfections, and there must always be an ongoing attempt by any industry to improve upon itself, learn and evolve, while weeding out unsavoury elements or improper practices that hold it back. But to paint an entire industry with the same brush is a gross misrepresentation of reality.”
However, it did not condemn the institution. Instead the guild spoke about the positive role it plays in society. "The film industry employs hundreds of thousands of people, boosts travel and tourism and is one of the most important sources of soft power for India across the world. It has entertained hundreds of millions of people for over a century and has brought joy, honour and glory to the nation. It has welcomed and embraced talent from across the country - from the worlds of literature, poetry, art and music - and has drawn them in to create a unique cinematic language," it says.
"This has ensured that we are one of the few countries in the world to still have a vibrant and thriving local film industry across multiple languages, despite the decades-long onslaught of Hollywood."
The guild alluded to the accusations of substance abuse and other nefarious activities as suggested by Kangana Ranaut in the past few weeks, saying pointedly, "We do not negate the personal experiences of anyone from the industry, and undoubtedly many of those entering the business and seeking to establish themselves have faced numerous hardships, struggles and disappointments in the course of building a career here. But that is no different from the challenges and obstacles faced by new entrants in any field that they are not born into - be it politics, law, business, medicine or the media.”
Ranaut has said she was almost drugged by a colleague in her initial industry days, and has in the past spoken of Rajput’s distress brought on by meetings with peers. She has also spoken at length about the alleged nepotism in Bollywood. It exists in all fields, says the guild.
"However, a concerted effort has been made to single out the film industry as one that specifically inhibits and prohibits new talent from the outside from thriving. This could not be further from the truth."
"There are scores of talented actors, directors, writers, musicians, cinematographers, editors, sound designers, production designers, costume designers, art directors and numerous other film professionals across multiple disciplines who have had absolutely no connection to the industry, but who have flourished and produced inspiring and pathbreaking work, which has defined -- and then redefined -- Indian cinema."
"Being born into the industry most definitely affords you the privilege of access and a first break, but after that it is up to each individual`s talent, hard work and drive to propel them forward."
The statement added: "This is a place that ultimately rewards your talent, work ethic and ability to connect with an audience - regardless of your religion, gender, caste or economic strata.
"While it is undoubtedly more difficult for those on the outside to get that first chance to display their talent - with perseverance, persistence and a little bit of luck - you can and do succeed."
Finally, the Producers Guild called on temperance and a coming together of its members. "These are difficult times for our country and the world, so rather than venting our fears and frustrations on each other with vile and vicious trolling, it is more important than ever to come together instead of tearing each other apart. Members of the industry on both sides of this debate, especially women, have been subjected to rape threats and death threats. This is unacceptable and must stop now," the statement said.