Twitter Court of Law Blames Sushant’s Death on Nepotism, I Object
Sushant deserves better.
(Trigger warning: suicide)
In less than a couple of days after Sushant Singh Rajput’s death, Twitter was teeming with the nepotism discourse once again. #JusticeForSushantSinghRajput, #SushantNoMore, #BoycottKaranJohar were some hashtags that seemed like they were about Sushant but honestly, when in fact they were not. People had somehow reverse-engineered Sushant’s suicide and baselessly decided that the ‘nepo gang’ was to be blamed for his death.
Let’s break it down.
In this chicken-or-egg kind of a situation, it’s hard to say what steered the conversation in that direction but on 15 June, the day after Sushant’s death was reported, Bollywood actor Kangana Ranaut put out a video in which she referred to Sushant’s death as a “planned murder.” In the video, she blamed journalists and the Bollywood fraternity for portraying Sushant as someone with a “weak mind.” And while she does make *some* sensible points, most of what she says seems to be driven by a personal agenda.
Kangana’s statements, considering the kind of reach that she has, are problematic for two reasons. First, it stigmatises mental illness. Secondly, in the video, Kangana has contorted Sushant’s death through the nepotism gaze. The Judgementall Hai Kya actor has been vocal about her stance on the issue for a LONG time now but is it fair of her to piggyback on the sudden demise of a person to further her own agenda? There’s literally zero clarity on why Sushant decided to take his own life, so how exactly can Kangana claim to know?
Around the same time, two video snippets from Koffee With Karan went viral, once again, for all the wrong reasons. One featuring Alia Bhatt and the other featuring Sonam Kapoor. Now, I live on Twitter, so I have some understanding of herd mentality that exists on the bird app. But this one baffled even me.
Twitter users started sharing a clip of Alia Bhatt playing the ‘Rapid Fire’ round on Koffee With Karan.
In the clip, Alia is asked the ‘Kill, marry, hookup’ question and her options are Ranbir Kapoor, Ranveer Singh, and Sushant Singh Rajput. Alia Bhatt ends up picking Sushant for ‘Kill.’
If you’ve watched even a single episode of Koffee With Karan, you’ll know how frivolous everything mentioned on that show is. As far as talk shows are concerned, KWK is bottom tier. It’s just three friends sitting in their living room, tattling and laughing over a cup of coffee. And you know what, Twitter loves it! So it’s kind of ironic that the same people are now bashing Sonam and Alia for some harmless humour.
But for some incomprehensible reason - people started blaming Alia Bhatt for Sushant’s death.
Another Sonam Kapoor clip that went viral shows the actor being caught off-guard when she’s asked to rate Sushant Singh Rajput as “hot or not.” Sure, Sonam’s initial response is low-key rude but she eventually does clarify that she can’t say if he’s hot because she hasn’t seen any of his films. Which really is...okay.
Look, Sonam and Alia might have been born with silver spoons in their mouths but who they choose to keep tabs on from the industry is nobody’s business. Sure, they may have had opportunities galore and a safety net to fall back on but that doesn’t mean they’re directly culpable for Sushant’s death. There’s a fine line between constructive criticism and mindless trolling - and this certainly feels like the latter.
Even Rohini Iyer, one of Sushant’s closest friends and celebrity manager, took to social media to criticise people who have conveniently taken advantage of Sushant’s death to peddle their own agenda.
If anything, such conversations only disrespect the memory of Sushant Singh Rajput. In just two days, the focus has drastically shifted to a made-up debate around whether or not ‘being an outsider’ triggered Sushant to take his own life. It’s often said that we tend to respect people only after their death - but are we even doing that for Sushant?
Of course, nepotism in the Hindi cinema industry is a matter of concern. It’s a form of gatekeeping that limits the success of outsiders and adds a degree of exclusivity to the industry, but is this a phenomenon limited to Bollywood only? I don’t think so. This form of favouritism exists pretty much everywhere.
But more importantly, is this really an appropriate time to bring up the nepotism debate? The least Sushant’s fans can do is think about his family and how difficult it must be for them have to keep up with all the blaming and trolling. Don’t they deserve to grapple with grief without any unnecessary burden?
No one’s denying that gatekeeping in Bollywood is a very real problem that needs to be addressed, but it’s not the *only* problem that deserves hue and cry.
I’m sure Sushant did not have it easy and he deserves to be remembered for his success. Money, power, connections, status... these things go a long way in building someone’s career and Sushant, despite his limitations, made it to the top leagues. But it’s not right to deconstruct his death and change the narrative of his life without his permission.
Sushant recognised nepotism as a universal phenomenon and was vocal about it in his own way. He believed that “Nepotism can co-exist with all the talented people also and you will get wonderful films because then they will be competing with each other and that would raise the performance.”
But here’s the thing, this moment in history is not about nepotism or the senseless trolling on Twitter. It’s about mental health. We need to look at Sushant’s death from a more empathetic and kind perspective, otherwise, it would be a great disservice to the legacy left behind by him.
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