India is a land of languages and states. What binds us is our love for families, and cinema, especially Bollywood.
So, when a self-made man, from a small family makes it to the big screen, but one day news of his death grips the nation, the media went bonkers with seamless coverage.
The electronic media reached Sushant’s house, capturing his father with his head in his hands- when he might not have been in a position to even process the news or know the details.
The postmortem report pronounced the reason of death as suicide, but the social media acted as a tentacle that led to pictures of Sushant’s dead body reaching every phone. His heavily guarded personal life was scavenged to feed the information, and maybe novelty-hungry locked-down Indian populace. Families sat together, consuming the intricate, often speculated details of his dating life, his interests, his family life- and his mental health. Youtube channels analysed pictures, pointing fingers to homicide based on evidence available in the viral picture.
The suicide theory turned to murder speculations growing stronger by the day, and senior leader Subramaniam Swamy wrote a letter to the PM requesting a CBI enquiry.
After more than a month, when the family finally decided to file a case- it was against the late actor’s girlfriend Rhea Chakraborty and her family, accusing them of abetting the actor to suicide.
And like Sushant’s death became a dinner table discussion, and a social media trend which has not died down like other news- Rhea’s role in his life and death has become a joint investigation by the media and netizens.
It is true, that social media has the power to raise accountability, and gives a voice to people to opinionate, but discretion in meting out content is essential.
From a debate on mental health and opportunities outside family connections, the Sushant Singh Rajput death case became a debate for generalizing regional identities.
Calling Rhea a gold-digger witch who practiced black magic on Sushant, or an extravagant woman who used Sushant’s stature- even media veterans took a stand with the two conflicting parties, making the case murkier than a drama series.
Connecting a CM’s son to the scandal, and bringing in ‘cowbelt patriarchal mentality’, even going on to compare Sushant to Shravan Kumar- the media has decided to not let his soul be at peace.
And this is important so that other deaths don’t go unnoticed, and the mistaken are held accountable- but the law states the accused as innocent before being proven guilty.
The probe takes me back to days of the Sheena Bora murder case, where Indrani Mukherjee was called ‘Draupadi’, ‘gold digger’, and a degraded woman. She was a female criminal- which somehow makes her more wrong in the eyes of a society that wants to tear women apart for not being the idea of a woman.
Sushant’s family lawyer’s accusations at Rhea for her choice of dress, or her habits and speculated tendencies reminds me of AK Singh, the lawyer of Nirbhaya’s rapists who said on national television that he would have burnt his daughter alive had she gone to a late night movie with her fiancé.
In a fast-paced world which has grown impatient when locked down in homes, justice needs to be served like two minute noodles or 30-minute deliveries, because we enjoy televised encounters in the name of law enforcement.
Bengali women are enchanting to the level of mystic and otherworldly, but the jilted lover will call her a witch for her uniqueness and a bitch for being vocal and courageous. ‘Tez’ or sharp is how patriarchy defines a woman who does not confine to the image set for her- too sexual, too intelligent, too attractive, too good- it’s not too good, if you are a woman!
A Bihari boy has to rise for his family, be the ideal son who cannot have problems- the father figure for his sisters, the breadwinner who cannot have any other interest if it does not make a comfortable earning, someone who has to be buried in books and be an Engineer or Babu(Government servant). The ideal son, who can live a life out of his home but be a child-like mumma’s boy or ‘Balak’, and marry in his caste, his girlfriend or even family’s chosen wife can be a homebreaker if she chooses to not be what her mother-in-law was to her mother-in-law.
And this age-old belief system need not be levied on anyone- it requires collective abolishing. We have brought beautifully sounding words like feminism, humanity and inclusivity into our lives- but when will we stop seeing people from a lens of structured identity?
Until then, any boy can be Sushant and any girl will be Rhea- time will tell when your story will be tousled to suit an agenda.