A ruthless blame game ensues.
Death is difficult to come to terms with. Irrfan Khan and Rishi Kapoor were labelled as warriors who lost the battle to cancer. But when it comes to mental health, sometimes the battles we fight within our minds are just as hard as the fight against cancer cells. The failure to understand the intricacy of this mental war causes fans to search for a single person to blame. It’s much easier and cleaner that way. But Sushant Singh Rajput’s mind was just as beautiful as it was dark and complicated.
Rajput’s suicide taking place a week after his manager’s might seem strange to some people. Some people might be pointing fingers at Karan Johar, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, YRF, and the group of star children who had multi-crore movies handed to them instantly as self-made actors like Rajput struggled their way through the cut-throat industry. Some people might blame the lock-down. Others might say he couldn’t get past his past break-ups. Some might say he couldn’t get over his mom’s death in 2002. The truth is, we will never be able to single out the exact reason that made SSR believe death was the easy way out, and that’s okay. But to talk about the importance of understanding mental health while simultaneously attacking the mental health of those who have survived him and those who he held dear, is not okay.
If Bollywood and its fans really want to create a conversation about mental health and wake up to the importance of reaching out during difficult times, we need to learn to dismantle the phenomena of roping celebrities into blame games and sensationalizing celebrity deaths. We must celebrate their lives instead, while carrying forward these meaningful conversations that we’ve started about nepotism and mental health.
Let them be.
Not 15 hours had elapsed since Rajput’s death and fans began the sickening process of hunting down every Bollywood star on Instagram to comment “Why haven’t you said anything about Sushant’s death? #unfollowed.” Fans need to understand that a person’s grieving process cannot and does not need to accommodate a random 15 year old’s fascination with how a celebrity is responding to their fellow celebrity’s death. Death is an event that sometimes takes years to come to terms with. To expect someone to process it in a matter of hours with a social media post is absurd.
Celebrities are called insensitive when they don’t post a tribute to a person’s life, and fake when they do. At the end of the day, SSR’s friends’ processing of his death does not benefit/satisfy fans in any way. Dhoni does not owe anyone an explanation as to why he hasn’t posted anything about Rajput’s death. Yet, so many people are disturbingly concerned about the fact that he hasn’t put up an RIP post on Instagram, as if that’s the only socially acceptable way for a celeb to grieve.
Effects of the Blame Game
It’s also awful to look at Ankita Lokhande’s and Kriti Sanon’s comments sections bombarded with hateful accusations on their previous Instagram posts, and others like Rhea Chakraborty turn off their comments section before they even begin to come to terms with the death. People need to understand that it’s absolutely vile to go after supposed exes of late celebrities and vilify them at a time that possibly hits them harder than it does for almost anyone else. Fans do not know if any of his exes ever contributed to the deterioration of his mental health, but they’ll never know if their blame game will do the same to these women.
Nupur Sanon speaks out on behalf of Kriti Sanon, actress and rumored ex of SSR.
The need for respecting privacy
One of the worst things that someone could possibly do to a grieving family is to shove a mic and camera into their faces and ask them to tell millions of people how they feel on live TV, and that’s exactly what Aaj Tak did on Sunday after Rajput was found dead in his Mumbai apartment. It’s also revolting that the Maharashtra Cyber found images of Rajput’s dead body circulated on social media. We need responsible journalism and greater respect for privacy. Fans need to know that their beloved actor has passed away, but they don’t need to see his sister sobbing at his funeral, his dad’s broken face, or his dead body. Sensationalizing his family’s grief and his funeral is a despicable invasion of privacy. It will never be worth the PR rating it garners.
Instead, remember the adorable Sarfaraz from PK who melted everyone’s heart as he eagerly waited years for the day Jaggu would call. Remember Dhoni from MSD: The Untold Story, and the actor behind the character who worked tirelessly to fit into the shoes of a legend. Remember the old man from Chhichhore who taught his son that there’s more to life than being a winner or a loser. The silent Manav who charmed the fans of Pavitra Rishta with his smile, and the Ishaan who broke your heart when he took a bullet for his friend in Kai Po Che – remember them.
And finally, remember the man behind all these roles who could have spent hours talking about quantum physics, taught blind kids how to code, flown a plane, planted a thousand trees, and given us more remarkable characters to look up to, if only he got a little help to rescue himself from the inner demons he eventually succumbed to.