This time last year, Bollywood actress Rhea Chakraborty wasn’t a part of movie-mad India’s collective consciousness.
But in the six weeks following Sushant Singh Rajput’s death in Mumbai on June 14, Chakraborty’s name has been uttered in every Indian household that has mourned a promising icon like Rajput.
Her popularity, or should we say notoriety, peaked this morning when her late boyfriend’s father heaped an avalanche of accusations against her.
In his First Information Report (FIR) filed with the police in his native town Patna in Bihar, Rajput’s father accused Chakraborty of abetting his son’s suicide, transferring huge amounts of money out of his bank accounts and using his medical records in order to blackmail Rajput about his mental health.
While father KK Singh’s string of charges — including that she orchestrated the destruction of her boyfriend’s career — are yet to be proven, Chakraborty’s lawyer has reportedly moved for anticipatory bail and has even filed a petition in India’s Supreme Court to transfer the investigation from Patna to Mumbai.
But who is Chakraborty and what do we know about the woman who on Twitter referred to herself as Rajput’s girlfriend while pleading for a CBI inquiry into his death.
The Bengali talent, born and raised in Bengaluru, began her career working a presenter on MTV India in late 2000 and took the plunge into acting in 2013 with the Hindi film ‘Mere Dad Ki Maruti’. But her first brush with cinema was in Telugu movie ‘Tuneega Tuneega’ in 2012.
Chakraborty’s father was an officer in the Indian Army, but she was a Bollywood acting hopeful from the word go.
Her career got a jump start in television when she participated in the talent hunt ‘MTV India’s TVS Scooty Teen Diva’ and emerged a runner-up. She topped this up by hosting several MTV shows such as ‘TicTac Collage’ and ‘MTV Gone In 60 Seconds’. Just like most presenters, she exuded a sunny and amicable personality.
Her acting credits also include Yash Raj Film’s ‘Bankchor’ and cameo appearances in films like ‘Half Girlfriend’. Chakraborty also acted in an underwhelming feature called ‘Jalebi’ in 2017.
To label Chakraborty as a struggling actress, who was still looking for that elusive big Bollywood break, wouldn’t be an understatement.
It was her personal life with Rajput that gained more traction than her work. While the two never acknowledged their relationship in public while Rajput was alive, she was reportedly one of the last few people that the actor tried to reach over the phone before he took his life at his home in Mumbai.
Although her statement was recorded by the Mumbai Police in connection with Rajput’s death after being grilled for several hours, it was only today that her name was sullied by her boyfriend’s family.
Rajput’s family has accused her and five others of abetment of suicide, wrongful restraint, wrongful confinement, theft, criminal breach of trust and cheating.
Actress Kangana Ranaut — who is spearheading a ‘justice for Sushant Singh Rajput’ campaign and mobilising cries for a CBI inquiry into his case — has accused Chakraborty of colluding with other powerful producers, directors and actors in Bollywood to sabotage his career.
While Chakraborty is yet to put out an official statement, several reports in the Indian media claim that she has hired high-profile lawyers to fight her case. Gulf News has also learnt that Chakraborty is to file for anticipatory bail and is currently unavailable to police.
It’s safe to say that Chakraborty doesn’t have a cracking Bollywood career under her belt, but her personal life has made her a person of interest to millions of Indians.