The never-ending twists and turns of the mystery shrouding the unnatural death of Bollywood actor, Sushant Singh Rajput, have provided deep insights into the functioning of the media, the investigating agencies, the political discourse prevalent in these troubled times, and many other consequential and inconsequential matters.
It is one day short of three months since Sushant’s body was discovered dangling from the ceiling of his apartment; the CBI, which was entrusted with the task of probing this unsolved riddle, continues to grope in the dark. At least, it categorically has yet to declare whether it was investigating a murder case or that of abetment to suicide. Its credentials have been undermined to a great extent, by its sister agencies, Enforcement Directorate and the Narcotics Control Bureau, which is, at present, grabbing all the limelight.
The NCB, has in its net some suspects—including the late actor’s live-in partner, Rhea Chakraborty—and has decided to oppose their bail pleas because it is convinced that it was on the threshold of busting a massive drug syndicate, involved with furnishing psychotropic substances, to the rich and famous. Decoded it also means that the agency, till now, had turned a blind eye, so far as Mumbai was concerned, given that substance abuse in Bollywood had become a way of life for many celebrities.
It is also a disconcerting matter why the NCB has not demonstrated similar enthusiasm to rein in the flourishing narcotics business in Punjab, particularly since there is a well-established nexus between, narcotics, smuggling and terrorism, fuelled by forces from across the border. The entire operation has perplexed officers connected with law enforcement, who somehow are unable to reconcile with the fact that Rhea and several others have been arrested without making any sort of incriminating recoveries from them.
The principal fault-line in the case: presuming Rhea was procuring drugs for Sushant, who supposedly was a regular consumer of marijuana, then that would have also made the deceased actor the prime accused, had he been alive. The issue now is likely to come up before the High Court, which shall take an appropriate view on the subject.
Unfortunately, this case has divided the media; a section has already concluded that Rhea was the evil-doer in the entire drama, while another segment does not share this definitive black and while version. Every night on prime time, there is a competitive showdown to outdo each other. Most of the anchors are pursuing their own agendas, having scant knowledge of the law, like many of their uninformed yet pompously vocal guests. It is appalling to watch how half-truths are being projected as the truth, with rampant conspiracy theories adding spice to the sensational disclosures that are sought to be made.
National Award winning actor, Kangana Ranaut, who is not new to controversies, has currently come under the spotlight for her unsubstantiated allegations against some Bollywood big guns, and subsequently with the vindictive Shiv Sena ordering the demolition of “the unauthorized portions” of her premises. The cinestar, whose mother—a political activist in Himachal, exited from the Congress on Thursday—is being seen as acting at the behest of the BJP to target the Shiv Sena. The Kangana sub-plot in the Rajput saga is clearly aimed at smearing the reputation of the Maharashtra Chief Minister, Uddhav Thackeray, who had broken his party’s long association with the BJP, to form the Aghadi government with the Congress and the NCP.
The ebullient swiftness with which the Municipal Corporation carried out the demolition at Kangana’s office, indicates that in the future this battle is likely to take many ugly turns. The heroine has worsened matters by bad-mouthing the Chief Minister in the most derogatory language, something which is unacceptable in public exchange. Kangana, it is apparent, has positioned herself to be the natural choice of the BJP in the next elections. She would be a formidable candidate from the hill state, readily upstaging many aspirants from the region for a plum position in Himachal or at the Centre.
Several political analysts are of the view that the Rajput case is being used by the BJP to consolidate its chances in the Bihar elections, while simultaneously disrupting the star-structure existent in Bollywood. The three Khans, who for nearly three decades have ruled the silver screen, will have two likely rivals for their primacy in both Kangana and Akshay Kumar. The flip-side of the Bihar political positioning is that in Bengal, a senior Congress leader has already taken up cudgels on behalf of Rhea underlining her lineage as a Bengali Brahmin, being hounded by the Centre.
While every day these theatrics take a fresh turn, top film stars continue to maintain a conspicuous piercing silence, being apprehensive that might be dragged into murky waters. A few years ago, Deepika Padukone, Bollywood’s leading diva, who had come out in public regarding her struggle with depression, remains mum despite knowing that Sushant may have been going through a depressive phase.
The multi-dimensional aspects of the case are barricading the truth from seeing the light of the day. The unraveling developments are frightening, thereby reflecting the erosion of certain values and standards maintained by various institutions. It is of utmost importance, that the media, in particular, must not allow its role of a watch-dog to be further compromised. This does not imply that it should implicate or exonerate any person it wishes to. This is solely the job of the judiciary. Between us.