Friday, 1 July, 2022
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Sushant Singh Rajput forgotten, his death now all about Kangana Ranaut, Rhea Chakraborty

Three months on, visuals of Kangana Ranaut and Rhea Chakraborty — one being zealously guarded and the other being systematically hounded — dominate our news feeds.

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Nearly three months ago, on 14 June, Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput died by suicide in his Mumbai house. Since his death, opinions, conspiracy theories and rumours masquerading as ‘evidence’ have proliferated, thanks in no small part to news anchors who have strained to outdo each other and their own previous highest decibel levels while discussing nothing else but the death of one man and the national need for justice.

In reality, the so-called ‘Justice For Sushant’ campaign has been anything but. What has actually happened in the guise of the popular hashtag is that the man himself has been forgotten and his death has become about two women – actors Kangana Ranaut and Rhea Chakraborty.

This week, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) began to demolish Kangana’s office. The move came straight on the heels of a Twitter spat between Kangana and Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut over the actor’s remark that Mumbai felt like Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) to her, and her criticism of the Mumbai Police’s handling of the investigation into Sushant’s death. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Home Affairs accorded her Y+ security cover, which was soon followed by Kangana’s highly dramatic trip to Mumbai from Manali.

Also this week, Sushant’s girlfriend, Rhea Chakraborty, was arrested by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) for allegedly procuring 59 grams of marijuana for him. The arrest came after two months of investigation that has involved the Mumbai and Bihar police departments, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), none of which found any evidence of her involvement in his death.

Visuals of both women, one being zealously guarded and the other being zealously hounded, have dominated our news feeds on every platform.

For this reason, Kangana Ranaut and Rhea Chakraborty are ThePrint’s Newsmaker of the Week.


Also read: Sushant Singh Rajput and the burden of being a ‘Shravan Kumar’ in toxic Bihari families


Kangana turned the debate from mental health to herself

For the first few days after Sushant died, national discourse was all about mental health. But just when one thought this incident could bring a much-needed change in how India thinks and talks about depression, the narrative was taken over, and turned upside down, by Kangana Ranaut and her army of fans.

The day after Sushant’s death, Kangana posted a video on Instagram in which she rubbished the idea that an “engineering entrance exam rank-holder could have such a weak mind that he’d commit suicide”. She proceeded to make the whole incident about Bollywood’s nepotism and cliquishness, and then about herself and how she, too, is an outsider who has been persecuted by the Hindi film industry. Midway through the video, she called his death, on the basis of no evidence, a “planned murder”.

That was all it took for the entire country, led by a section of media, to start baying for the blood of every Bollywood ‘insider’, whether or not they had even met or worked with Sushant, and for Ranaut to, once again, come into the limelight as a crusader for justice.


Also read: Kangana Ranaut’s Twitter timeline is Manorama yearbook, Jhansi ki Rani edition


Warped idea of justice

Justice, though, seems to have taken on a different meaning when it comes to Rhea Chakraborty. Sushant’s girlfriend has been called everything from a gold-digger to a witch who practises black magic. Even though the investigating agencies have found nothing to even charge her for his death, let alone the court convicting her, she has already been presumed guilty by a huge section of Indians and a number of news channels, which actually worked towards ensuring this presumption prevailed.

Since 25 July, when Sushant’s father filed an FIR against Rhea, India has gone down a rabbit hole of misogyny.

Attacks on Rhea have percolated to anyone speaking up for her – against the vilification, the demonisation and the abuse – and some of the people supporting her are no less guilty. When singer Shibani Dandekar criticised Sushant’s former girlfriend Ankita Lokhande for targeting Rhea using the drug narrative, her criticism included the opinion that Ankita, a TV actor, wanted her “2 seconds of fame”. Soon, ‘warriors for Sushant’ descended on Shibani, calling her relationship with actor Farhan Akhtar her “only identity”. Her Wikipedia page was altered, labelling her as a “gold-digger”.


Also read: Medusa to Rekha to Rhea — Women are always villains, because raja betas do no wrong


Patriarchy is far from being smashed

The morning of her arrest, when she went for questioning to the NCB, Rhea wore a black t-shirt that read “Roses are red, violets are blue, let’s smash the patriarchy, me and you”. Even that has been turned into further ‘evidence’ to be used against not only Rhea but every celebrity who endorsed the message. The idea that they could be speaking up not necessarily in support of her, but of a simple thing called a fair trial, seems to have escaped most people, with many responding to the celebrities with the threat of unfollowing them – because they think that would provide #Justice4SSR.

The day Kangana Ranaut’s office was partially razed, before the Bombay High Court stayed the demolition, a TV journalist tweeted that Kangana and Rhea are “both fighting back systems & prejudices. But both, merely a pawn in a larger political game. Make no mistake – this is nothing but political.”

Several Bollywood celebrities, too, spoke up about their dismay at the BMC’s action, even those who have called for a fair trial for Rhea. But curiously, Kangana, who was quick to draw parallels between herself and Sushant, wasted no time in distancing herself from Rhea. When Sonam Kapoor retweeted Dia Mirza’s condemnation of the BMC’s move (both had previously posted the ‘smash the patriarchy’ message as well), Kangana called her a “mafia bimbo” and rejected any linking of her case with that of Rhea, saying she did not want to be compared to a “small-time druggie who was living off a vulnerable and self-made superstar”.

With people relentlessly attacking a woman for the death of a man, and women attacking each other for their views on it, patriarchy, going by the TV ratings of the coverage, is laughing all the way to the bank.

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24 COMMENTS

  1. thanks to BMC that making her into news so that sushant case focus to ge shifted and media to gain new topic attention.

  2. Kangana ranauat raised her voice that how film industry treated sushant when he was alive and she has be been harrased for talking openly and publicly .
    Thats why she is everywhere and thanks to BMC that making her into news so that sushant case focus to ge shifted and media to gain new topic attention.

  3. Paid article
    Kangana ranauat raised her voice that how film industry treated sushant when he was alive and she has be been harrased for talking openly and publicly .
    Thats why she is everywhere and thanks to BMC that making her into news so that sushant case focus to ge shifted and media to gain new topic attention.

  4. This is beautiful Sameera Sood! Though some people would be offended, I believe journalism is rooted in truth and not consensus. Kudos to you and the Print team😇

  5. Firstly print wrote articles blaming bihari family, then burden as shravan kumar blind articles now they are throwing toxins on kangana who was the initiator of investigation and is defending druggy rhea family.what a journalism.

  6. Firstly print wrote articles blaming bihari family, then burden as shravan kumar blind articles now they are throwing toxins on kangana who was the initiator of investigation and is defending druggy rhea family.what a journalism.

  7. Firstly print wrote articles blaming bihari family, then burden as shravan kumar blind articles now they are throwing toxins on kangana who was the initiator of investigation and print is defending druggy rhea family.what a jounalism.

  8. You are so misguided. This is an example of lazy journalism or paid journalism. It’s difficult to write an article that is so uninformed and selective in its presentation of facts unless you had blinders on. The Print and SG himself are losing their credibility

  9. How ironical this all is! The people who actually bullied him on TV and in their blind items are not sitting cosy on their sofa. And ‘Justice for Sushant’ has led to public bullying of his girlfriend, friends & colleagues. Which person would like to see that happening to his social circle after he has died?

  10. The writer has started off with her mind firmly made up about something that five teams of the CBI, after nearly three weeks of assiduous tracing, still waiting for the AIMS special team’s autopsy report, is to determine: “Sushant Singh Rajput died of suicide.” Nothing further need be said. The TV channels may be laughing their way to the banks,. They have to make money. But ‘writers’ like Sood have no business to peddle their convictions based on half baked theories.

  11. It was never about SSR. It was discovered that the episode will come handy for political purposes. It served it’s purpose quite effectively so far

  12. The family has Inadvertently proved why SSR was not getting big banner movies. Why he was avoided…All his friends, colleagues and his girlfriend are in trouble today.
    This whole fiasco will push away people who may want to help anyone suffering from mental health issues or addiction

  13. You are either out of your mind or doing it purposely. CBI is doing its job and in fact it helps if focus is not on them ..

  14. Sad state of youth in India. India fxucked up .better for sensible thinking youth to leave india and settle in abroad .the ruling class took new low to hound rhea to gain politically .mera bharat dont know when one sees light ..on one side extreme leftists on otherside extreme right .is there no middle sensible way not taking sides

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