Sushant Singh Rajput
Sushant Singh Rajput Image Credit: IANS

Truth be told, late Bollywood star Sushant Singh Rajput has emerged as the most annoying celebrity hashtag in India after his death by suicide on June 14 in his Mumbai flat.

It is a double tragedy for the upcoming actor who many say was poised to scale more heights in his career despite many reported hiccups and obstacles. Ever since his death, the demand for news on him spiralled and real and fake news on him catering to this ever-growing ‘public need’ began to flood our living rooms and the internet.

The relentless drone on nepotism, tiny salacious details, bits and pieces on the lives of Sushant’s real and purported girlfriends, the money some of them were after, the projects he was dropped from, the gang that worked against him, his depression, the servants whose salaries were paid early, the dog that is still looking for its master, the video clips that have sprung up after he’s gone, the friends who still miss him, the friends who abandoned him, the stars who haven’t adequately mourned him in the opinion of certain stars who seized the moment to push their schemes, the concerned sisters, a father who claims to be the heir of his dead son — what more do you need?

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Other people’s misery

It is as if the whole world has conspired to decide that from now on your life on earth depends on the news of Sushant Singh’s death, or the life he put an end to. The truth is, even when the public is craving for more news, most do not care one bit about him, or people surrounding him who are now in pain. Because, other people’s misery is just entertainment — nothing more.

In fact many have even started to hate him in the two months that they have become acquainted with him through his death. For dying on us without a closure, mostly. It is like a suspense thriller that you are half way through and suddenly realise the last pages are missing.

Who is telling the truth — Ankita or Rhea? Is Mahesh Bhatt the sugar daddy in Rhea Chakraborthy’s life? Was there something going on between them behind Sushant’s back like we all would love to fantasise anyway? The nation wants to know

- Jaya Chandran

You have to depend on the revelations of police sources from Mumbai to Bihar and now the elite sleuths of Central Bureau of Investigation to put the pieces together. And then put to good use the wisdom of struggling crime fiction writers, amateur psychoanalysts and talk show hosts.

All this no fault of his of course. That is the tragedy. I have full respect towards Sushant Singh the living and dead person and I fully empathise with the pain he must have gone through before taking the most momentous decision of his life.

But that exactly was the moment that marked him forever as a scapegoat of at the mercy of the news peddling crooks, small-thinking politicians and industry wannabes.

What is his story? The caste of the matter

What is the story of Sushant Singh Rajput that caught the fancy of middle class India? Let us phrase it the way it is, because it is important. An upper caste Hindu boy from a relatively well to do family in a north Indian small town decides to drop out of college and try his luck at being a Bollywood star and he succeeds before tragedy hit.

The terms ‘upper caste Hindu’ and ‘well-to-do’ are the key one even though they look superfluous and even provocative. They are precisely the right kind of ingredients that makes this story relevant in front of an immensely empathetic public.

Imagine what would have been the case if it was a lower caste boy. An insignificant death, nothing more. He would not even have become the star Sushant was at the time of his death.

He would have ended his life as one of the junior artists who dance away or fight each other in the background and treated as mere props. Of course then he should not be upper caste-ishly ‘handsome’ enough to sway the attention away from the Kapoors, Kumars, Chopras, Deols, Khannas — or Khans for that matter.

But that is the truth of not just of the Bollywood, and the whole of India and we all have agreed behind closed doors to let it be so. Let us stop taking about nepotism and start discussing the way caste operates in India, especially in the north. In all walks of life.

Problems under the carpet

Of course this is not the only issue India has to grapple with now but it is convenient to stuff all others under the carpet as the nation is urged go on mourning indefinitely over one death.

The whole world is reeling under the impact of COVID-19 and its effects on India are slow but steady and devastating. Tens of thousands are falling sick every day in the country and death toll will soon cross 60 thousand. People are worried about their health, the health of their dear and near ones.

Hundreds of thousands have been rendered jobless already or are enduring pay cuts and wondering what to do next or how they can survive as a family. Domestic labourers have returned from big cities and are in limbo unsure if they can go back to the cities again. Non Resident Indians have lost jobs and returned and the government has no clear-cut plans for rehabilitating them.

A grim situation

The economic situation is grim to say the least and the outlook dystopic. Everything that can be bought by Ambanis or Adanis has already been sold to them. Other entities are in queue and on starvation diet to suit the buyer’s pocket.

The general discontent against the policies of the government from Kashmir to CAA is still simmering though under check. The situation is going to get only in the coming months and government has no plans and in all likelihood people will be forced to fend for themselves in the typical Indian fashion.

The mood of the leadership is nicely captured in the video the prime minister has released just the other day. A once globe-trotter premier grounded by COVID-19 is sitting at home and feeding, rather pensively, peacocks, a bird not exactly known for flying. No prizes for guessing what is going through his mind.

But we have greater stuff to focus on for now.

Who is telling the truth — Ankita or Rhea? Is Mahesh Bhatt the sugar daddy in Rhea Chakraborthy’s life? Was there something going on between them behind Sushant’s back like we all would love to fantasise anyway? The nation wants to know.