Death is hard. We know it’s the eventual reality, yet whether it comes like a prince or thief, it unnerves us.
The current COVID-19 crisis has taken a toll on everyone physically, mentally, and emotionally. Many have died in this time.
A friend’s father. A colleague. A school teacher. A doctor.
The news which makes headlines are the ones of celebrities, soldiers, and doctors. And we are just close to half the year.
How long will this uncertainty around the coronavirus last?
How many will get affected and how many will survive this phase?
No one knows.
Some try to find solace in God. Some in their astrologers. Some place their hope in science. Some in the ruling government and their leader.
Sushant Singh Rajput was found dead in his home on 14 June 2020 in Mumbai. The police suspect death by suicide. No note was found. As I write this article, investigations by the Mumbai police are still going on.
Pandora’s Box opened when celebrities like Karan Johar, and Alia Bhatt posted their condolences. But people have watched the group mock the deceased actor on various shows. It felt like a slap.
It took years for Karan Johar to look out of his star-struck coterie and invite actors like Ayushmann Khurrana on his Koffee with Karan show. A show that reeks of nepotism and privilege. A show that I quit watching for its pretence and elitism.
Here’ are a couple of tweets of people asking some hard questions to the top director:
‘Do you really care?? If you really do!!! Pls stop what you’ve been doing since years!!! Learn from your mistakes. May be people can get a better tomorrow.’
‘Did you ever invite Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Irrfan Khan, Sushant Singh Rajput, Rajkummar Rao, Sonu Sood, KK Menon, Radhika Apte, Manoj Bajpai, Sohum Shah, Kapil Sharma, etc?’
‘Please stop this drama.’
People felt the need to defend the late actor. The rage is understandable. Palpable.
Sushant Singh Rajput was an exceptional actor. If he were born as a star kid, he’d be the current ruling superstar. No doubts there.
There was a problematic comment I came across when the public called out on Alia Bhatt and her manipulations.
The defence was, ‘Why blame Alia Bhatt for being born with good karma?’
Good karma doesn’t give the entitlement to anyone to behave badly or manipulate others. The truth about Karan Johar and the likes is this. They run blinds against actors whom they don’t like, spread nasty rumours about them, while their names never figure in these columns. You will never see a blind on Karan Johar in any of these popular columns.
There were attempts made to frame Sushant Singh Rajput for sexual harassment. The new artist redrew the charges. She didn’t name who compelled her to make these false allegations.
There were fake tweets that the late actor is supposed to have written just before his death. He never signed into his Twitter account since December 2019.
There were a lot of campaigns against him. And it’s not hard to see why. Watch his performances in Kai Po Che, MS Dhoni: The Untold Story, Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!, Sonchiriya, Chhichhore, and you’ll understand why. He was a genuinely good actor. The good looks, physique, and dancing skills were an add-on.
Calling out on Karan Johar, Alia Bhatt, and their hypocrisy is not equal to blaming them literally for the actor’s death.
The murder of the body and soul was done. But the assassination of the late actor’s character is rife.
Suddenly everyone is the actor’s best friend. Every one’s talking except his family.
The Bhatt brothers have made a lot of allegations around the late actor’s mental health.
Kangana grabbed the opportunity to hit out against the nepo gang. Did she leave a cryptic message when she asked, “Yeh suicide tha ya planned murder?” She’s now the undisputed Queen with a string of million more followers.
Some are calling the actor a coward for taking a drastic step and ending his life.
Some are giving sermons on overcoming adversity, and how suicide is not a solution.
Who is to deny these allegations? The dead man cannot come back to defend himself.
Who is to know if it was a suicide or a murder?
If it’s the latter, will the truth ever be revealed? I doubt.
Suicide – Is it an act of cowardice?
The suicide epidemic is around us. In our community, workplace, and pop culture. I’ve been hearing so many cases of suicide among common people in the last two years alone. It’s a demon that our generation is battling with.
When I hear people calling those who commit suicide as cowards, I’m not entirely convinced by the argument. Strangely, the cases I’ve seen up close are of people who believed the same. An ex-colleague’s fiance, who preached against suicide to his peers, hanged himself by the ceiling fan in his home. A prominent blogger who wrote with powerful conviction how suicide was wrong, and an act of cowardice, died by suicide two years later. A popular figure in the city who was brimming with positivity and inspiration, died by suicide. All of them were achievers, positive, and had everything going for them. They had so many dreams to achieve. At least seemingly so on the surface. Then, we speculate, it must be depression.
I speculate why would people who call those who die by suicide cowards, do exactly the same. What has caused the shift? A weak moment? A dark moment? In two cases, I know for a fact, their curiosity led them in search of the dark forces. An interest in the occult. But this may not be the case for all its victims.
Is suicide a cowardly act? Maybe. Maybe not.
Every individual is different, and so are their motives for suicide.
Let me take a case in point where taking one’s own life is seen as an act of courage, liberation, and enlightenment.
The act of taking one’s life or Samadhi is to evolve life to another dimension, and not a means to end suffering.
Was Sushant Singh Rajput spiritually enlightened, and took his life for the sake of evolution?
It is a fact that every religious scripture in the world condones suicide. It’s an act against the Creator and comes from the evil forces.
This belief system is the major reason for the stigma around mental health, depression, and suicide. If you had a mental condition in the past, it was believed to be demonic possession. Thus, the hesitation to take professional help. Many succumbed to suicide for the absence of professional treatment.
I have a friend who battled with depression for years. She had it all on the surface – a loving husband, two healthy and beautiful children, well-to-do home, and nothing wanting. Yet, she felt blue and empty. Talking to her husband, family, and friends didn’t help her cause. Her husband asked her to meet a psychologist, and she hesitated for years because of her mental block. When her mental health went spiralling down, she took professional help. She calls it one of the best decisions of her life and wishes she got herself treated earlier. She didn’t need to take any medications.
In the other case, a relative who had immense faith in God, sunk into depression, when her life took a beating on all fronts – personally and professionally. Reading the Bible, and visiting the church didn’t help anymore. She piled on weight, couldn’t sleep for months, and lived in perpetual agony about the future. Her inner circle listened as much as they could, but nothing helped. It got worse until her closest friend gave up and asked her to seek professional help. The friend accompanied her to the clinic. The treatment with medications worked wonders and got her life back on track. She’s now back to her old self. She shed the pounds and sleeps peacefully. Her faith’s back on track, and stronger than before.
So, when we call those who’ve committed suicide as cowards, aren’t we reinforcing the stereotypes around mental health conditions, and setting up barriers for those who genuinely need professional help? Even if that’s not our intent!
Then there is the dangerous trend of the romanticization of suicide commonly seen in pop culture. Think ‘13 Reasons Why’ and ‘Aashiqui 2’. A lot of artists are accused of romanticizing mental health issues, the latest being Billie Eilish and Joaquin Phoenix in ‘The Joker.’ A fan of Sushant Singh Rajput died by suicide a few days ago. I rest my case.
The romanticization of suicide perpetuates this belief that the world doesn’t care for you for when you are living. It reinforces this lie that the world will remember you forever only when you die via suicide. This disturbing trend is all over pop culture.
This is where the role of parents, teachers, and mental health experts comes into play. I am reminded of my brief teaching stint as an assistant professor where I encountered two students who had suicidal thoughts owing to various reasons. Their minds were impressionable. I remember one incident, where a female student came up to the staff room, and told me, ‘Maam, X is talking of suicide. Please talk to him. I’m scared he will do something.’ The female friend was a genuine one, and so she came up to me in concern.
I knew the background, and the reasons too. I went up to the boy and spoke to him. I patted his back, while making him realize his strengths. He felt like a loser, and I reminded him that he was not. That he wasn’t at fault, and I could see his efforts to change for the better. And how he has so much potential and all his dreams to achieve. I wasn’t merely saying it to pep up the boy, but I genuinely believed in him. I’d seen how the college administration had driven students to the brink of depression and a feeling of worthlessness.
Another boy was raised in a very strict environment at home, and he was in a strict college too. The boy found some freedom, and a place to breathe with his gang in the last benches. They were the notorious ones – blacklisted. Deemed as ‘gone cases.’ Shunned by their classmates and the administration. Their families didn’t understand them. When pushed against the wall by the college authorities, I stood in defence much to the staff’s displeasure. A fellow teacher derided,
‘Why are you standing up for them, when they will not bother to acknowledge your goodness?’
That was when it hit me. The divide between ‘them’ and ‘us.’ The college authorities vs. students. I was now seen as one with the enemy camp. The students. That’s when problems arise. Prejudices, mistrust, lies are all some downsides of groups. Anyway, I stood up for the boy when I understood his situation. Years later, he messaged me saying that Rani Mukerji’s role as the teacher in the movie, Hichki, reminded him of me.
So, when it comes to mental health conditions including suicide, one size doesn’t fit all.
Is boycott the solution?
I understand the current rage against Bollywood, and its elite groups. The hypocrisy on display. And that must be called out.
But I don’t understand boycott or ban as the solution. It’s not fair, practical or sustainable. There is some incredible talent in the star kids too. We can’t hold it against them for being born in a privileged home? And aren’t we, the people, responsible for making the stars who they are? Irrespective of whether they are star kids or outsiders?
Sushant Singh Rajput has no qualms about nepotism. He was the kind who lived and let lived. He didn’t complain.
There is no problem if Karan Johar capitalizes on the looks and talent of the star kids. The problem arises when they all gang up and run smear campaigns against outsiders.
The problem is the group/mob mentality against outsiders by the nepotistic gang or the elite clubs. That is something we need to raise our dissent. Against group politics, and malicious attempts to slander others they see as threats.
Groups are good, but they can also blindside people in the names of loyalty, brotherhood, sisterhood, and the likes. Groups can bully, slander, outcast people, and drive them to the point of suicide.
It is my personal conviction that Sushant didn’t die by suicide. You may choose to believe otherwise. Fabricated sexual harassment charges, and consecutive deaths including his manager’s, and other questionable incidents leading up to and after the suspected suicide.
There are many mysterious deaths in the media and entertainment industry. Heath Ledger, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Divya Bharati, Sridevi, and more. Sushant Singh Rajput’s case will be closed in no time. He will be a poster child for suicide, depression, and nepotism. Life will move on. The same people asking for a boycott and ban will watch the next Salman Khan, Karan Johar, and Alia Bhatt movie. All will be forgotten.
I hope not.
Sushant Singh Rajput represented the power of the common man. He was intelligent, self-made, and a brilliant actor.
Was his brilliance his worst enemy? Did it threaten the elites enough to do away with him?
Or did they drive him to his death with hate campaigns against him?
Does Sushant’s death have any connection with his upcoming movie and its promotions?
Or is there a sinister concoction of national politics involved?
Or does the popular narrative of suicide because of depression hold water?