New Delhi: The furore over nepotism triggered by Bollywood star Sushant Singh Rajput’s alleged suicide last week has taken a heavy toll on the Instagram followings of film-maker Karan Johar and actor Alia Bhatt.
Meanwhile, actor Kangana Ranaut, who has often raised the nepotism issue and claimed that it works to the detriment of outsiders in Bollywood, has gained lakhs of Instagram followers.
Johar and Bhatt are both children of successful Bollywood film-makers — Yash Johar and Mahesh Bhatt. Rajput’s alleged suicide is seen by many fans as his reaction to a concerted effort by the Bollywood “insider lobby”, including the likes of Johar, to outcast the actor, a former TV star from Patna who won many accolades for his powerful performances in movies like Dhoni and Kai Po Che.
Allegations have been made on social media about big production houses boycotting the actor, and clips have been shared from Johar’s chat show Koffee with Karan to project an alleged bid by Bhatt and fellow starkid Sonam Kapoor, besides Johar himself, to make light of Rajput’s stardom.
Rajput, who allegedly hanged himself at his Bandra residence last Sunday, is not believed to have left behind a suicide note. He was 34.
In the week since Rajput’s alleged suicide, Johar has been unfollowed by more than 5 lakh users on Instagram, where his following has shrunk to 1.05 crore (10.5 million) from 1.11 crore (11 million).
Bhatt has been unfollowed by 10 lakh users since Sunday, with her Instagram follower list now down to 4.74 crore (47.4 million) from 4.88 crore (48.8 million).
Both Johar and Bhatt also sought to express grief for Rajput by posting photos of him on social media. While Johar’s Instagram tribute was accompanied by a photo of him with Rajput and an emotional message, Bhatt just posted a photo of the Kai Po Che actor with a heart emoji.
In a message that appeared to refer to Rajput’s reported depression diagnosis, Johar said, “I blame myself for not being in touch with you for the past year… I have felt at times like you may have needed people to share your life with… but somehow I never followed up on that feeling… will never make that mistake again…”
However, both Johar and Bhatt were incessantly trolled in the comments to the posts. The commenters specifically called out Johar for what is seen as his penchant for working with star kids.
As a result of the trolling, Johar has reportedly stopped following several actors like Alia Bhatt, Varun Dhawan and Twinkle Khanna — all star kids and friends of the film-maker — on Twitter. Now, he only follows eight Twitter accounts, including that of Amitabh Bachchan, Akshay Kumar, Shah Rukh Khan, Dharma Productions and PM Modi.
Ranaut, another small-town import with no Bollywood roots, has posted two videos since Rajput’s death that seek to call out nepotism and even the alleged hounding of outsiders like her by the news media.
With millions watching the videos — the first video has so far recorded 2 crore views — her Instagram following has increased by about 20 lakh (2 million) followers to 48 lakh (4.8 million).