Did Nepotism & the “Outsider” Tag Claim Sushant Singh Rajput’s Life? Kangana Ranaut Seems to Think So


Did Nepotism & the “Outsider” Tag Claim Sushant Singh Rajput’s Life? Kangana Ranaut Seems to Think So

Illustration: Mitesh Parmar

The suicide of actor Sushant Singh Rajput over the weekend shook the entertainment industry, as a promising young star’s life came to a tragic end. Condolence messages flooded the internet, from his fans as well as his peers in the industry. However, the actress Kangana Ranaut had a different sort of message to deliver – one that went after the culture of nepotism and exclusion in Bollywood, which, she felt contributed to Sushant’s untimely suicide.

In a heated speech, Ranaut called Sushant’s death not a suicide, but a “planned murder”. She pointed out how the media had not given Sushant his due compared to his more well-connected peers, and said that he was unfairly portrayed as an addict and made the subject of salacious gossip. And it’s clear from the relative lack of awards and acclaim despite his impressive career, that there was some truth to her words.

In her video, Ranaut called out the hypocrisy of the film industry that was mourning Sushant’s passing after having treated him coldly while he was alive. Ranaut was not the only one making these allegations. Many people specifically called out director and producer Karan Johar as well as the actress Alia Bhatt for mourning Sushant, when having publicly belittled him on earlier occasions.

A clip from Johar’s talk show, where he asks Bhatt to rank her male peers, and where she repeatedly places Sushant at the bottom of her lists has been circulating. Given how Ranaut had appeared on the same talk show, but used the platform to confront Johar about his nepotism and habit of offering starring roles only to the children of celebrities, it comes as little surprise that she is one of the few Bollywood personalities taking a stand against the industry in the wake of Sushant’s death.

Of course, the reasons for Sushant’s suicide are unknown to the media, or indeed to anyone but himself. However, that has not stopped fans from drawing lines connecting his “outsider” status as someone with no film industry connections to Bollywood’s culture of nepotism. And in Johar and Bhatt, these fans have readymade examples of how nepotism has rewarded those with connections, and continues to do so.

As a young actor with so much untapped potential, Sushant Singh Rajput is gone too soon.