Ever since a young Bollywood actor, Sushant Singh Rajput, was found dead in his home, the Indian media has held Bollywood responsible for his untimely passing.
A young Bollywood actor was found dead in his Mumbai home in June. Police reports suggested that the 34-year-old Indian celebrity died by suicide, but not everyone was convinced.
Sushant Singh Rajput was a popular actor who struggled with depression. He had many fans, including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who tweeted “Sushant Singh Rajput … a bright young actor gone too soon. He excelled on TV and in films. His rise in the world of entertainment inspired many and he leaves behind several memorable performances. Shocked by his passing away. My thoughts are with his family and fans. Om Shanti.”
What began as a tragic event turned ugly once the media, seeking someone to blame, turned on his girlfriend and the film industry. At the time, India was in disarray, with the fight against coronavirus in shambles, the economy shrinking and skirmishes with China continuing over a disputed border.
All these other news items were put on hold when the spotlight was turned onto Rajput’s death, which his family protested was murder. They accused his girlfriend, Rhea Chakraborty, a 28-year-old actor, “of abetment of suicide and of stealing several million rupees he had been offered for a new movie. (He had not signed on to the movie)”, according to an op-ed in the New York Times, which was critical of the Indian media coverage of Rajput's death.
Now Bollywood is fighting back. Long accused of being a source of iniquity and a drug-fuelled industry by its naysayers, accusations which have intensified after Rajput’s death, some of the biggest names in the industry have come together to file a suit against two media outlets whom they accuse of "irresponsible reporting".
“Dozens of companies, including those owned by stars Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan and Salman Khan have taken action,” the BBC reports.
"The livelihood of persons associated with Bollywood is being severely impacted by the smear campaign being run by the defendants," the case says.
The suit has been filed against Republic TV, Arnab Goswami and Pradeep Bhandari of the channel, as well as Times Now and its top faces Rahul Shivshankar and Navika Kumar, reports NDTV.
According to the producers who filed the suit, the channels used “highly derogatory words and expressions for Bollywood,” such as “dirt”, “filth”, “scum”, and “druggies” over the past few months, while calling Bollywood names.
They also accused the media channels of using provocative expressions, NDTV reports, such as, "It is Bollywood where the dirt needs to be cleaned"; "All the perfumes of Arabia cannot take away the stench and the stink of this filth and scum of the underbelly of Bollywood"; "This is the dirtiest industry in the country"; and "Cocaine and LSD-drenched Bollywood".
“These Defendants are conducting and publishing parallel private ‘investigations’ and effectively acting as ‘courts’ to condemn persons connected with Bollywood as guilty based on what they claim is ‘evidence’ found by them,” read the producers’ statement, in reference to the two news channels, according to Reuters.
Thumbnail photo: AAP MLA Alka Lamba, Congress leader Manish Tewari, former BJD Lok Sabha member Baijayant Panda, Editor-in-Chief of Times Now Rahul Shivshankar, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Nationalist Congress Party leader Praful Patel during the launch of Baijayant's book 'Lutyens' Maverick' at Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, on January 7, 2019 in New Delhi, India. (Prabhas Roy/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
Headline photo: Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput during an exclusive interview with HT Cafe-Hindustan Times for the promotion of upcoming movie "MS Dhoni - The Untold Story", at HT Office on September 20, 2016 in Mumbai, India. (Pramod Thakur/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)