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Sushant Singh’s Suicide Raises Questions About Bollywood’s Discrimination Against Outsiders

Sushant Singh’s Suicide Raises Questions About Bollywood’s Discrimination Against Outsiders

  • His suicide has also reignited the debate about mental health.

Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput was found dead in his Mumbai home on June 14. Police reports confirmed that he committed suicide. He was 34. He is survived by his father, Krishna Kumar Singh, and four older sisters: Shweta Singh Kirti, Ritu Singh, Mitu Singh and Nitu Singh.

According to a New York Times obituary, Rajput often gave credit for his success to his mother, Usha Singh, who died in 2002, when he was 16. “There was a vacuum in my life after her, as she was the only one with whom I would discuss everything,” the report quoted him as saying in an earlier interview. 

Since his death, news reports have revealed that the actor was“banned” and sidelined from big Bollywood production houses. There’s also rumors of possible drug abuse, and rehab. 

Rajput’s suicide has also bought the issue of mental health to the forefront. 

Ironically, Rajput’s last release, “Chhichhore,” with Shraddha Kapoor, saw him play the role of a father who makes his son understand that committing suicide is not a solution to any problem.

Deepika Padukone, who has been open about her experiences with mental health, took to Twitter to express her shock. “I cannot stress enough about the importance of reaching out,” she wrote.  

Similarly, Anushka Sharma, who co-starred with Singh in “PK,”  wrote, “I’m so sad and upset knowing that we lived in an environment that could not help you through any troubles you may have had.” 

Rajput was born on Jan. 21, 1986, in Purnia, Bihar, the youngest of five children and the only boy. 

He completed his schooling from Patna and New Delhi. In 2003, he secured the seventh rank in the Delhi College of Engineering Entrance Exam and got admitted in B.E. Mechanical Engineering. 

Rajput reportedly refused a scholarship at Stanford University to pursue his dream of becoming an actor in Bollywood. He is said to have sought inspiration from Shah Rukh Khan in “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge.” Prior to his television career, he was a dancer with choreographer Shiamak Davar’s troupe. 

A Bollywood outsider, Rajput was an unconventional actor. He often spoke about not having a godfather in the industry. 

Astronomy Buff

A former National Olympiad winner in physics,  and he was said to be a voracious reader and an astronomy buff. 

As part of his research for the film “Chanda Mama Door Ke,” he also visited the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 2017. The film was eventually shelved. 

The International Space University (ISU) in France paid condolences to Rajput’s family and friends, saying the actor’s memory will “remain among his thousands of followers across India and all over the world.”Rajput was supposed to visit the campus last year but was unable to due to scheduling conflict.

Actress Priyanka Chopra also recalled Rajput’s fascination with space. “I’ll never forget our conversations about astrophysics at sunrise,” she wrote on Instagram. 

Rajput ran a social media book club for bibliophiles where he shared books for avid readers and “encouraged dialogue” on different topics.

His friend, Dr. Karan Jani, an astrophysicist and LIGO scientist told Times Now that Rajput took his “highly-advanced” telescope at Chambal during the shooting of “Sonchiriya” so that he could observe the nebulae. 

Another friend, Rohini Iyer wrote on Instagram that the  film industry was “a small part” of his life. Rajput, she said, “had many worlds beyond that.”

Dance Loving Chhokra

Filmmaker Dibakar Banerjee told Indian media that Rjaput was “a dance loving chhokra from an engineering college” who, having made it in Bollywood, was “enthused, sincere and totally focused” on his craft. He said the actor always had “a book or two” with him and took pride in the fact that he had an “inner intellectual life away from the shallower aspects of showbiz.”

Rajput made his television debut with Kis Desh Mein Hai Meraa Dil.” But “Pavitra Rishta” was his big break. Based on the popular Tamil show “Thirumathi Selvam,” it premiered on June 1, 2009, on Zee TV. Rajput was seen as Manav Deshmukh, a garage owner, and within no time, he became a household name.

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In a June 2, 2020 tweet to commemorate 11 years since Pavitra Rishta” premiered, Ekta Kapoor disclosed that Zee TV was not convinced about casting Sushant as the lead but she was sure that he would win millions of hearts. Kapoor is the director and creative head of ‘Balaji Telefilms Limited’, which produced the show. True to her words, Rajput did that and then some.

He left the show in 2011, and ventured into Bollywood. 

In 2013 he made his Hindi film debut with Abhishek Kapoor’s “Kai Po Che,” based on Chetan Bhagat’s novel, “The Three Mistakes of My Life.”  Rajput plays Ishant, a former district level cricketer, who is a victim of politics in the cricketing selection fraternity. He received rave reviews for the film and a nomination for a Filmfare Award for Best Male Debut and he won a Star Guild and Screen Award in the same category. 

He turned to cricket again, a few years later. This time as Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the former captain of the Indian cricket team. 

Directed by Neeraj Pandey in 2016, “M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story” became one of the highest-grossing films of Bollywood that year. The film chronicles the life of Dhoni from a young age through a series of life events.

In 2013, Rajput was also seen in “Shuddh Desi Romance,” alongside Parineeti Chopra and Vaani Kapoor. In 2014, he played a minor role in “PK” starring Aamir Khan and Anushka Sharma. In 2015, he starred in a lead role in a mystery thriller “Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!’” 

In 2017, he co-starred with Kriti Sanon in “Raabta,” and the following year he was seen in “Kedarnath,” with Sara Ali Khan’s debut.

His next film, Nitesh Tiwary’s  “Chhichhore,” was a big hit and entered the coveted 100 crore club. Despite the film’s success, Rajput’s colleagues and fans say his stellar performance in the film was ignored and he didn’t receive any award nominations either. 

In 2019, his film “Drive,” was released directly on Netflix last year. Directed by Tarun Mansukhani and co-starring Jacqueline Fernandez, the film was produced by Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions. 

Rajput’s latest film is the yet-to-be-released “Dil Bechara,” based on “The Fault in Our Stars,” the 2012 novel by John Green. The film marks the directorial debut of Mukesh Chhabra and stars Saif Ali Khan and debutante Sanjana Sanghi. The film’s release has been postponed multiple times, due to post-production delays and then again due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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