Sushant Singh Rajput, A Person Whose Story Ended Too Soon

What a sad thing. What a very sad thing. The death of a young person is always sad, but when they take their own life, there is a special quality of tragedy to it. To see all that promise and hope from the outside, and know they were blind to it from within their own misery.

Whenever there is a death, people want answers, want some logic in the world that will explain it. With a suicide, that is multiplied a 100 times. But ultimately, there is no real answer. I expect to see discussion of whether SSR was clinically depressed, whether the isolation of quarantine caused depression, whether it is related to the suicide of his former manager a few days ago, whether he had an unhappy love story, whether it was because of his career downturn, or even the old favorite “the cold hearts of the film industry turned against him and broke his heart”. We find the reason, and then his death means something, we can work towards solving problems and fixing things and prevent a tragedy such as this ever happening again. But we can’t know. Maybe, if we are lucky, there will be some kind of an answer later, if his loved ones choose to share the additional information they have with us. But maybe even they don’t know, or maybe they will choose to keep what they know private. So we, the public, are left in this place of seeing a promising talented young person who chose to take his own life. A meaningless tragedy that leaves a scar on the world.*

Sushant Singh Rajput: Indian actor found dead in his Mumbai home - CNN

Here is what we do know: Sushant Singh Rajput was very smart, very talented, and very eager to be an actor. He grew up in Patna, and then Delhi, very far from the Bombay scene. A good middle-class family, his sister was a student athlete (Cricketer), and Sushant was an academic star. He was on the National Olympiad Physics team, and he was the 7th highest ranker in the admissions test for the Delhi College of Engineering, and started college at DCE with a bright bright future in front of him. Sushant was living in Delhi, going to school, and studying hard, and needed something fun to break up his day. So he joined a dance class, Shiamak Davar’s school. He was good, really really good. One of his fellow students mentioned that, along with dance, he also was taking classes at Barry John’s drama academy. Sushant joined that too, and loved it. Pretty soon he was spending all his time at the acting classes and dance and his passion for engineering was fading away. The break came when he was 20, Shiamak offered him a place in his dance troupe as a back up dancer. Sushant dropped out of college and moved to Bombay to pursue performing full time.

This is the start of Sushant’s real true love and fandom for Shahrukh, I am sure. Being a young man in Delhi, going to college, with a middle-class respectable life ahead of him, and the dream in his mind of the other young Delhi college student who studied with Barry John and then made the leap and moved to Bombay and made it.

In Bombay, Sushant found a place to live with a group of other young men. When he couldn’t afford his share of the rent, he would do the cooking and cleaning to make it up to them. He was welcomed into an acting troupe down there, Nadira Babbar’s group which was founded specifically for people like Sushant (young struggling actors trying to find their way). He booked a TV ad and, eventually, a TV serial which let him leave the theater group behind. His first TV role was small, but he was such a hit with the audience, he was offered a leading role in the next serial. At the same time he was starring in TV serials, Sushant sought out participation in dance reality shows. He knew he was a good dancer, and he wanted the additional recognition of being in multiple shows at once. It worked, by 2011 when he was 27, Sushant was positioned for a film career, the dream of many young actors who come to Bombay but something few of them achieve.

He really was an amazing dancer, in a way that set him apart from the other young actors of his generation

Sushant’s first film role was a triple lead film, himself and Rajkummar Rao and Amit Sadh, based on a hit Chetan Bhagat novel. It was a good movie, with a good cast, and Sushant stood out. Every review picked him as the big discovery of the film, it was clear even in the trailers that he was something special. Tall, handsome, with a youthful enthusiasm and openness that took the eye. Yash Raj immediately signed him up for their next film, a young rom-com featuring their newest featured actress, Parineeti Chopra. Everything was perfect, Sushant was only 28, he went from dance class to drama class to theater troupe to small TV part to large TV part to part in a smaller film to contract with the top studio. Perfectly planned career, next step would be a hit mainstream film from that top studio, than a big budget mainstream film, then a series of big budget films, and finally take his place at the top of the industry.

But life doesn’t go as planned. I am someone who watches almost every single Hindi movie, because I review them here, and because I like seeing movies in theaters, and because my friends trust me to tell them what to watch. As that kind of a person, I saw a lot of SSR performances and I was very VERY impressed with him. But the tragedy is, only people like me saw those performances. Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!, Raabta, Kedarnath, Sushant brought me so much joy, and somehow it never went anywhere. He was always just successful enough to keep working, he kept being signed for those slightly below the top kind of films and working incredibly hard on them (silly stuff like the way he made the physical change between past and present roles in Raabta, that means he practiced in front of a mirror for hours and hours, did the real work of acting), and somehow what he was doing just didn’t connect with the audience.

SSR Gets Set to Bat for Glory on the Latest Poster of the MS Dhoni ...
He also struggled a bit because he was too good, I think. His most successful lead role was in M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story. But he disappeared into the role so complete, it ended up making people more excited about Dhoni than SSR.

That’s why I find this a tragedy today. We have a young man who had so many talents in so many ways, and the world is cheated of them. He could have kept delighting me, and the other people who watched his performances, for years to come. He could have gone back to engineering and continued his brilliance in that field. He could have started dance classes if he wanted to, passed on what he learned to a new generation. So many accomplishments, so many possibilities, all gone.

As I said, there is a desire for answers. And I can name some of them right now. I saw in a source I respect that Sushant was depressed and trying to follow the Art of Living to treat it (yoga, meditation, breathing, Ravi Shankar). His former manager had killed herself a few days earlier. If you are depressed, it is possible for the suicide of someone near you to start a spiral. Not that it makes you sad, but it makes you think “if they did it, maybe I should”. And there is quarantine. Sushant was from outside of Bombay, which means he may not have had the strong social bonds and support system he needed to survive alone. He had had one long term live in relationship, and so far as the media and public know, nothing since then. No close friends apparently either, and no family in the city. I’m Sushant’s age, and I moved in with my parents during lockdown, because I knew living alone (even as an adult who had lived alone for years) during this time would be really really hard. There’s a reason Salman opened his home and heart to so many “orphans” in the industry. And finally, what we know is the most important part of Sushant’s life because it would be the most important thing for any human, his mother died suddenly when he was 16. That’s sad, and that is a wound that will never go away.

But truly, there are no answers. Sushant was a talented intelligent young man with a million options before him. And in one moment, he felt that his options had narrowed to one and he acted on that option.

The human reaction to this story is sadness, regret, even a little bitterness. It’s okay to feel those things, let yourself feel them. But there is also a human reaction to try to find meaning, to make it better somehow. And it’s good to feel that too. We can’t solve the problems of the human heart for someone else, but we can make things better for ourselves today. If this death has to mean something for you, I suggest it means that you hug your family today and are grateful for them. That you look at the sun in the sky and are grateful for its brightness. That you think of all the things you can do in life instead of the things you cannot do. That you watch a Sushant Singh Rajput movie and are grateful for all he brought to the world in his short time on earth.

*this post is partly inspired by the lessons I learned from Robin Williams’ suicide. If you remember, after his suicide the media and public burst forth with messages about depression, mental illness, how comedy can mask pain, and so on. And then a few weeks later, his widow explained that after a year of random mental and physical symptoms, he had finally received a diagnosis of Parkinsons/Lew Body Dementia and was looking at a few months of pain and slow decline as his brain ceased to function, that is why he took his life. His death could have meant something about the disease he was suffering from and the need for a treatment, or about the difficulty of diagnosing brain diseases, or even how the symptoms of a physical illness like Parkinsons can be misdiagnosed as mental illness and the dangers of that. His life could have meant something about a man who did suffer from depression but kept going anyway, found treatments and behavioral changes that worked for him (yes, he was on antidepressants), and lived with the condition only to be brought down at last by a completely unrelated disease. But instead, we all rushed to “solve” the problem and made his death into nothing at all. I don’t want to do that ever again, I would rather wait for a clear answer that may never come than rush to a false answer and insult the death by coating it in a lie.

51 thoughts on “Sushant Singh Rajput, A Person Whose Story Ended Too Soon

    • Thank you, that was a lovely essay. Two things I found interesting, that his love for SRK was true fandom, of the kind that makes friendships. Unusual to find in someone working in that same industry, kind of a sweet humility to it. And that, I assume, the one film he did not put up a poster of was Kai Po Che! If that is the case, I assume he chose to keep that film separate out of respect for the real life tragedy it represented. That’s a fineness of feeling that is remarkable.

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      • I was actually thinking it could be PK because stardom was immediately mentioned after, plus knowing SSR’s passion for films, his small role wouldn’t have let him put a poster of it, despite the box office success

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  1. Speaking to the point you made about not speculating, a mental health organizations released these guidelines for reporting on suicides (all broken already by media & social media of course)

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    • Thank you! very helpful, glad I followed all of them (I think). Oh, except I didn’t put a reference for suicide resources. Oh well, I don’t even know what reference I would use, Indian or American or what.

      On Sun, Jun 14, 2020 at 11:30 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  2. The hair person from MS Dhoni movie made a completely insane statement about how this shows the coldness and hypocrisy of Bollywood because they are now tweeting condolances….how on earth could people who hardly know him and who are in quarantine done anything. Stopping someone is extraordinarily hard. And you are right. We know nothing of the truth. We can only feel terribly sad for him and his family.

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    • I was talking about this with my Mom, who is a mental health professional, and she mentioned that the one thing that has been found to be most helpful at that moment of suicide is getting the person to look forward to something. As simple as asking them “what are your plans for tomorrow?” The only thing I can think of that is film industry related with Sushant’s situation is that, unfortunately, he is in one of the industries that truly has no tomorrow right now. He can’t take meetings about new projects, he can’t work on his current project, he can’t even look forward to his next film releasing in theaters. So really the only thing the industry could do is, as a group, come up with any sort of project AT ALL to keep folks feeling active and give them something to look forward to for tomorrow. Which they are kind of already doing, not a coincidence so many folks are focused on getting the theaters reopened, figuring out filming, or even being active on social media.

      Not to mention it isn’t an industry that is about a job to pay the bills, but a real passion. To have nothing to do with yourself day after day and no end in sight, and to be unfulfilled in your artistic passion, must be a special torture.

      On Sun, Jun 14, 2020 at 11:31 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  3. Sushant’s death has affected me more than Iran’s death, even though I have not been his biggest fan.
    He grew up in front of our eyes. Pavitra rishta was my mom’s fav tv serial and I used to watch it sometimes with her. Then he did jhalak dikhla ja and was a finalist but all were rooting for him bcoz of his amazing dance and sincerity.
    Then he did kai po chhe and became a success .He had the biggest potential amongst the 3 leads -better than amit sadh and rajkumar rao.
    Then he did some films with yrf which proved to be his downfall as he was bogged down due to 3 film parts and went out of site out of mind.
    Then dhoni came and he became our mahi. Bt it didnt get him success as he gt busy with panic which he gave 2 years.
    Then dharma issues cropped up and his value continued on a downward spiral due to gossips and blinds.
    He did 2 films in 2019 sonchidia which was the big critical hit and the author backed chhichore which was the commercial hit.
    During this time , his in the cans film drive gt a backer and released on ott to worst reviews and his next dil bechara also stuck due to no backers.
    Seriously showbiz is a fickle nature where pr and marketing work more than genuine talent.
    My mom summed up best hamara manas chala gaya aaj.

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    • There’s something special about a young person, who we saw when he was even younger. Irrfan was unnoticed until he was at least in his 30s. I suspect for many people his age or older, Rishi’s death had a similar effect to how Sushant’s death hit us, for the same reason, they could see the teenager in Mere Naam Joker and were sad for him.

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  4. Even though I wasn’t always his biggest fan I am still incredibly saddened and shocked by his death. So many TV actors try to break into the film industry but Sushant was one of the few that was able to successfully. I’m not sure how many friends from the TV industry he kept when he transitioned but one of his old friends tried contacting him weeks ago but his messages didn’t get read so it seems as if he was trying to distance himself from others. This is all just so incredibly sad.

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    • I hadn’t thought about that aspect of him particularly, but I wonder if it was part of his loneliness? Or not, I could be totally off base, but this is still a productive thought just about creative careers in general. He rose so far so fast through so many layers that he ended up kind of leaving a lot of people behind. A year in the dance troupe, a year in the Bombay theater group, a couple years on TV, and then film work is always just project by project. I think of performing arts as a very social tight knit community, but if your career path moves fast, you may find yourself all on your own, isolated from the folks who you started out with.

      On Sun, Jun 14, 2020 at 12:22 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  5. I am so so sad to wake up to this news. The issue of mental health in the Desi community is something that needs a lot of rethinking. My parents were firmly against therapy to the point that when my sister wanted to be a psychologist they were very discouraging. My cousins in India have even more difficulty. This is an especially hard time for everyone, but for those with mental health struggles, very challenging. Seemed like a sweet guy.

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    • Again, not necessarily related to anything, but a thought I had when I read he was (possibly) trying to treat himself with meditation and yoga. Meditation and yoga and breathing are absolutely something you can use for depression and anxiety and all kinds of things. But it also occurred to me that they were things you could do without needing to ask for help. Totally unrelated to Sushant, we have no idea what his journey was, but in general I started thinking about how yoga and breathing and meditation are encouraged, and how they are things that do not involve going to a doctor, or even talking to your family, or a Guru or priest. That’s not necessarily a good thing, to give yet another tool which will allow you to put off revealing how you are struggling, to try to fix it all on your own.

      On Sun, Jun 14, 2020 at 12:31 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  6. This news has affected me deeply. I watched Kai Po Che in the theater when it released and immediately liked him the most among the three. He is the same age as me and I’m wondering how it would have been for me if I was living alone during this lockdown period. In any case, I’m shocked and sad to see such a talented actor take his own life.

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    • One thing my parents and I have talked about as we have our sudden combined household is how many young people might shift from the way they have been living. There is a statistic I saw somewhere that the world has more single person households than ever before, and that feels true to me. All the people of our generation who are struggling to get a foothold in their career and in life with the pressure of healthcare costs and student loans and recessions, marriage and kids just keeps being delayed and delayed, you end up in this limbo of being out of your parents’ home but not starting a family of your own really. And of course living at home with your parents isn’t really accepted in most Western cultures once you are out of college at least. I’m beginning to think seriously about how it would be to have a much smaller apartment and plan to spend more nights at my parents even when the world is normal again because it turns out spending more time with family makes you happier, and I know other people who just left their “independent” life entirely and moved cross country to be living with family. That’s a scary thing to do as an adult, to admit that you need other people around you like that.

      On Sun, Jun 14, 2020 at 12:33 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Yes, I agree. It’s always difficult to accept that you need help. As an adult you put pressure on yourself to always have everything sorted and under control. We all need to learn to leave our ego aside and seek help when things get overwhelming.

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  7. The whole thing hasn’t fully hit me yet, not like Irrfan or Rishi that was a double whammy of emotions. It’s just so sad and seeing all the blame spread in the media just makes me wish people would just take a moment to think before criticizing stars and industry people like Karan, who once again, gets all kinds of accusations against him. Trying to keep a distance for my own personal health as well in this matter.

    It just feels so terrible to lose someone so young and bright…

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    • Keep whatever distance you need! If nothing else, I think what this can tell us is that mental health is fragile and precious and no one is as strong as they seem (or think they are).

      On Sun, Jun 14, 2020 at 12:38 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • Thanks, I just checked out Harsh’s posts. They are interesting, he is sad and upset, without being a close friend. Just that there was a person he thought he kind of knew, and that person turned out to have something inside that no one expected. That’s part of the shock of suicide, isn’t it? The “how could I have not seen? what is the world?” kind of feeling. Like waking up and discovering the sky is actually green when you always thought it was blue.

      On Sun, Jun 14, 2020 at 1:59 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  8. This past week a friend died on a journey my husband was invited to join. The grief and uncertainty in life this has caused me and my spouse is intense. If I was alone, and already sad, and without dependents, I can totally see how the suicide of someone close to me would cause a depressive spiral. I’m not saying that happened, but I can understand if it did. In the culture I grew up in suicide is a terrible terrible thing, but when I went to the Yucatan in 2019 I learned there is no Mayan word for suicide, it is only called self sacrifice. Ever since I have been trying to change how I think about suicide. Rest in peace Sushant.

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    • I struggle with suicide, because on the one hand I don’t want to think of it as a sin. But on the other hand, I do think of it as having something extra “wrong” about it somehow. Not “wrong” like the person should be blamed for doing it, but it feels uglier and discordant in a way that other sudden deaths do not. Especially the death of a young physically healthy person, a body that is so full of life to turn on itself and take that life away feels worse than if it happens to a body that is already breaking down.

      On Sun, Jun 14, 2020 at 2:16 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  9. Of the Bollywood actors who died during this time, I think Sushant’s might hurt the most for me. It’s always more painful when they’re young. It’s always more painful when they take their own life.
    The only film I’ve seen of his was Chhichhore, and it was so wonderful and he was so wonderful. I keep rolling over in my head how SPOILERS his son’s suicide attempt was the catalyst for much of the movie, at least it was the set up. To take part in a movie where the message is about bouncing back from failure, and then not be able to live up to that himself is a lot to process. It doesn’t make the impact any less real. In fact, it might make it more real. END SPOILERS
    I also think about Dil Bechara, the Fault in Our Stars remake that was supposed to come out. I wonder if it still will, and when. I love the book and I love the original movie, but MORE SPOILERS potentially watching him play the Augustus Waters character, and having to watch him die all over again is going to hurt a lot. It’s a movie about cancer, so it’s different, but to think this is going to be his last movie, and his character has to die? I planned to be first in line for it, but now I don’t know if I’ll be able to stomach it knowing Sushant himself is gone. END SPOILERS
    I feel like I’m not putting myself in a good head space thinking about all of this. He seemed like a good person. A hard worker. Like you said, someone who’s talents went unnoticed and deserved better.
    My dad was the one who broke the news to me, pretty soon after I got out of bed. He doesn’t know Sushant, but the story made it to American news media, and I refused to believe it. He said things come in threes–Irrfan, Rishi, and now Sushant. Still doesn’t make it any better, still doesn’t make it right.
    I don’t know why this comment is getting so long. It’s been a few hours and I still can’t wrap my head around it. I don’t know why. I like Chhichhore a lot, but I wouldn’t consider myself his fan. Maybe I’ll add to this if I have any other thoughts, but I think I’m just trying to process it all.

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    • Keep processing, but step away if you have to!!!! I’m so glad this news came while I was in a beautiful place with things to do outside of the virtual world.

      I honestly completely forgot about Chhichore while writing this post. If nothing else, I should have remembered it because it was another movie where Sushant’s performance was maybe too good to be noticed. He did a really good job moving between the older character and the younger, so much that folks may not have realized all that he was doing. And yes, it’s sad that he made a movie about suicide (decided it’s not a spoiler if its in the first ten minutes of the movie). But something useful to think about, the movie positioned suicide as something to watch for in teenagers, and that is a really dangerous time in general (as you know, I imagine high school teachers get some kind of training on warning signs), but that mindset also perhaps makes it harder for people to see the signs in someone older.

      And yes, Dil Bechare will be extra sad. I know this is blasphemous and disrespectful to the source and so on, but wouldn’t it be great if they decided to rewrite it and give us a happy ending instead? Just because it is too sad now?

      On Sun, Jun 14, 2020 at 3:36 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  10. This is very upsetting; he was among my favorite of the younger generation. I’m also distressed by the blaming on Twitter, because it’s senseless but also because it obscures the fact that you can be beautiful, talented, rich, beloved, and successful and still be life-threateningly depressed. Guru Dutt, it’s been said by his family, didn’t take his life because of Waheeda, he did it because he was depressed. Deepika has depression because anyone could, not because of Ranbir.

    There are also a lot of beautiful messages on Twitter. I loved Shah Rukh’s, and Rajkummar put up a picture of them together, probably in Kai Po Che days, hugging and looking so happy. Someone also put a shot-for-shot comparison of him as Dhoni with the actual Dhoni, to show his meticulous preparation.

    There have been rumors of him struggling for years. I hope he’s at peace now.

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      • Dhoni’s small child is ADORABLE! To drop a little happiness into this comment chain, here is Shahrukh teaching her to smile:

        On Sun, Jun 14, 2020 at 10:30 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • This is just speculation of course, but if he has been struggling, perhaps it is a bit of a cart before the horse with how I have been looking at his career. Since Raabta, he had this string of movies that were delayed or didn’t work out or something strange just seemed to happen to them. I was thinking that this might be something that could be unhelpful when you are already feeling bad. But it’s also possible that the string of difficult projects were in some way related to personal issues he was having.

      And yes, blaming people is pointless. Who would set out intending to make someone feel that bad about themselves? Let’s just assume everyone feels terrible, and if a genie told them “hire this guy for your movie and save his life”, they would have done it. But there are no genies around like that, and anyway, that’s not how depression works.

      And now I am going to look for the Rajkummar photo!

      On Sun, Jun 14, 2020 at 10:07 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  11. Mental illness is a silent killer yet in this country, most people don’t even want to talk about it. It’s more shameful for us to be suffering from a mental illness rather than a physical one. If a family member suffers from a mental ailment like depression, we tend to ignore it rather than provide the person with professional help.

    It couldn’t have been easy for someone suffering from depression to thrive in the toxic and insular and ruthless environment of Bollywood. I came across a post online where someone has compiled all the blinds that had been circulating about him for the last year or so. Terrible stuff being insinuated about him without a shred of proof. It’s as if there were people who wanted to see him fail. It couldn’t have been easy dealing with that kind of pressure.

    I didn’t know this before as I don’t follow any actor online but now, I’ve across posts from his fans about how friendly and inspiring he was with them. How he’d wake up at 5 in the morning and encouraged them to do the same. How he’d talk one on one with them like a friend. How he loved to talk about science and astronomy.

    He was a talented actor who deserved better from the industry. But hasn’t that always been the case with Bollywood? I hope wherever he is now, he can look at his stars in peace.

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    • I agree, an environment with constant professional ups and downs and a lot of feedback from the media and the public at all times cannot be good for mental health in general. But I want to separate that essential part of being a performer (giving your all to a job and seeing it succeed or fail outside your control, being out of work for months at a go as you pick a new role, and the constant loop of negative feedback from social media), from individuals. As someone who watches the industry closely, Sushant has had a string of slight bad luck. But no more or less than his Kai Po Che! cohorts. And the items I have read about him are far far less than I have read about other people in the industry. I don’t think any person ever “did him wrong”, I think the structure of the industry itself was just hard on him. Funding falls through, critics hate your movie, you are an attractive single man and romance rumors will start. For example, Karan Johar right at this moment is having terrible stuff spread about him on social media. He is on record as struggling with depression himself, Deepika is as well and her lovely post for Sushant got similar angry comments. I guess I just want to be clear that we are separating the individuals who knew him in real life and who all are struggling at this moment with shock and guilt, from a more general comment about how the industry functions and can turn pressure onto someone already struggling.

      One surprising new sad thing I am finding, as I read all these posts about how he loved to look at the stars, is that the one movie that never got off the ground sounds like the one he would have loved the most. That astronaut movie was in pre-production for almost a year I think, and Sushant visited NASA to prep, and was just so happy and excited looking in photos and interviews. Now, as we learn how he loved his telescope and space, I can imagine even more excitement. And then the crushing disappointment when the funding fell through and the movie never got off the ground.

      On Sun, Jun 14, 2020 at 11:59 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I’m finding the blame game online to be really disturbing. There’s a lot of anger being vented at people perceived to be insiders and while there’s plenty of criticism to be made about the industry, that’s not how suicide works. The big stars have terrible things written about them all the time, they have projects fall through, they go through career slumps. There’s the objective bad things that happen and then there’s the individual who is uniquely vulnerable for reasons that have nothing to do with what’s going on around them.

        I almost feel like people need to generate the anger because they are so profoundly uncomfortable with mental illness, it’s easier to believe he was bullied to death rather than accept that brain chemistry was involved.

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        • That’s an interesting thought. I like it better than my thought, that people are incapable of loving kindness even in a moment when loving kindness is so clearly required. Fear leading to mistakes I can understand more easily than gleeful hatred.

          Following your theory, suicide is just being folded into the existing narratives, forced to fit. Nepotism, pettiness, rich famous heartless people, the same story that has been used to explain falling box office or why your favorite actor can’t get a role or anything else that makes you unhappy, is now used for this. Because then at least you can make some sense of it, there is someone to blame, there is a reason.

          I am sure part of your distress, as it is for me, is that the targets of this hatred are themselves vulnerable at the moment. The more famous you are, the more likely you are to be rocked by hate storms. If there is a mental vulnerability there, the massive eye of the public is going to hit it and weaken it further.

          You know in Indian law there is a concept of guilt for driving someone to suicide? I assume it was intended for very straightforward situations, more of a brainwashing kind of thing, where a severely abused wife might kill herself because her husband commanded it. But it does lead to this sort of thinking, that suicide can have a human cause and human guilt, rather than being purely internal and caused by the mysteries of the human brain.

          On Mon, Jun 15, 2020 at 6:26 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • I don’t think we’ll ever know exactly why SSR did what he did. I doubt even he himself did completely. Sometimes. life itself becomes so tiring and overwhelming, all you want is to end it all. Just for some peace. I know I did. But, none of us can say for certainty, why he did this.

            But I also understand and empathize with the anger his death has generated. Bollywood has always been toxic but it has become increasingly insular. Outsiders are treated with suspicion and derision even after they “make it”. This accusation doesn’t just exist in the head of the fans. Outsider actors have time and again complained about the treatment they receive, that is when they feel safe enough to say anything at all.

            The blinds spread about the outsiders are particularly vicious in comparison to those about the insiders. SSR for instance, have been accused of everything from being unreliable, a druggie and a sexual abuser. And these blinds are surprisingly effective in discrediting the intended target. We might think the industry insiders are savvy enough to know that these blinds are just lies but that’s not true. Even people on the side, like long-time directors and producers believe these rumors. For example, after the deserved fall of Harvey Weinstein, Peter Jackson came forward with a sad but familiar story. When he was making the LOTR movies, he wanted to cast Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino. But he changed his mind because he believed the smear campaign that Weinstein ran on these women. And they’re, of course not the only victims. Stuff like this happens in Bollywood every day.

            So, while I do believe his depression caused his suicide, I also believe that his career was hamstrung by some powerful people and that might have contributed to the stress he had been dealing with.

            Like

          • If you personally are tempted to end your life to gain peace, don’t do that! Better times are always coming, life will change, the world will change for you. And I know I am just a person on the internet, but I would miss you in the world and I want you to stay in it. Please, when you feel that way, reach out and talk to someone. Talk to me if you like, I won’t judge 🙂

            Would it be fair to say that the weapons of those in power are also more powerful than ever before? In the past, you could place a story in Cineblitz, it would be upsetting to the target, but the industry as a whole would generally understand Cineblitz is fake, and the vast majority of the public would never read it. Now, if you place a story in Pinkvilla, it is repeated and amplified by social media within minutes in such a way that even the industry will believe it. And certainly the public will. And then that belief will be forced to your attention as they turn around and shout it at you through your own social media. Very different, and far more mentally damaging, than just reading something in a magazine, and then burning the magazine and forgetting it.

            For me, that has what has shaken me most. The idea that the social media mobs, which are right there for us all to watch spread and grow, could potentially contribute to the death of a celebrity. Even here, this very happy sunny corner of the internet (at least, that’s my goal), we have occasionally mentioned that it feels like SSR dumped his girlfriend Ankita when he started to become famous, or that there is something slightly fake feeling about him. Was that an original thought in our heads? Or was that something planted by blind items and rapidly spreading social media poison? Or at the very simplest level, was that an original thought in our heads but instead of thinking something kind, we thought something cruel? If we were seeing something slightly “fake” in SSR’s demeanor, it is now clear that “fakeness” was probably caused by an effort to mask depression, not drugs, or hypocrisy, or anything terrible. Why would our minds go to a bad explanation instead of a kind one?

            On Wed, Jun 17, 2020 at 6:51 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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            Liked by 1 person

  12. Thanks for writing about Sushant’s death with your usual good sense and industry knowledge. As you know, I’ve been in a really dark place for months now. I’m ok, not thinking of self-harming, but I’m really sad. Detective Byomkesh Bakshy, Raabta (especially the songs), and Kedarnath are in my regular re-watch rotation. Sushant’s life story, his passion for Shah Rukh, and his movies have given me small joyful things to look forward to. I’m sorry that he may not have had enough of those small joys to keep him from opting out in that moment. As you say, we may never really know why. Praying he’s with his mom somewhere, in some form, among the stars.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Do you know Shakespeare’s Sonnet 29? It’s such a perfect description of that kind of depression, “with what I most enjoy contented least”. When you can’t find pleasure in anything, when you feel like everyone else is in a better place than you. And sometimes you can pull out of it by remembering that people love you, but sometimes you can’t.

      When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes, I all alone beweep my outcast state, And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries, And look upon myself and curse my fate, Wishing me like to one more rich in hope, Featured like him, like him with friends possessed, Desiring this man’s art and that man’s scope, With what I most enjoy contented least; Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising, Haply I think on thee, and then my state, (Like to the lark at break of day arising From sullen earth) sings hymns at heaven’s gate; For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

      On Mon, Jun 15, 2020 at 8:55 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      Liked by 1 person

  13. I dont like the speculations like next person.
    Bt this time, I feel kjo is being rightly targeted.
    He systematically destroyed sushant’s career after paani.
    Sushant list on plum projects after that including raamleela , befikre and several others as he had angered aditya chopra.

    And even after all the success of dhoni and chhichore and his excellent performance in sonchiriya, he never felt welcome.

    And how can a person who gave such a big hit as his last , offers be dry if its not a hit job.

    And considering the n number of blind items which have been systematically planted , I feel the worst.
    There are posts doing the rounds that all the big production houses have banned sushant.

    He thought that he would just destroy sushant’s career and be done with it , but he took this unfortunate step and now kjo has to face the consequences.

    Hope he stops his big mafia hold on the industry and redeems himself now at least.

    Like

    • Let’s back off here.

      There is no evidence, no real evidence, that Karan did anything to Sushant’s career. You are talking about rumors and blind items and social media posts. I am seeing that Sushant was hired regularly, was invited to parties, had flops and hits. NO. There is NO evidence that the industry did anything to him beyond treating him as a fellow worker in the field who will have the same number of career struggles as anyone else. To say otherwise is insulting to those who struggle with mental health, to say that you only feel bad if someone “drove” you to it. These are conspiracy theories that do not hold up to the slightest examination, that are being spread without any kind of attribution or research, that are there only to feed into the basest ugliest instincts of people I will not even call human, I would sooner believe that this kind of online mob anger caused Sushant hurt than that any person who knew him in reality did anything to cause this.

      I will not allow this kind of hateful speculation here, especially in response to a tragedy that should teach us all to be kinder, not less kind. If you want to discuss social problems like the lack of respect for mental health issues in India, or the way the performing arts can be extra painful as a field, or how depression can be invisible to everyone, that is okay. But any attempt to place “blame” on a single person is absolutely unacceptable behavior and I will not allow it.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Like

  15. Like every other field,entertainment industry suffers the most from career related stress.I read a poem “we are the music makers”,and a story “B.Wordsworth”,days before this news.Now I am seeing this tragedy in front of me.It is too soon to think about accusing someone,but I feel the entire public is responsible for this.Even if a movie is mediocre,we tend to like one mediocre movie more than others.Good “actors” suffer the most due to this,because they can showcase their craft on any movie but cannot draw audiences by themselves alone.Except if they are,….If at this point another wave of parallel cinema sweeps the industry like it did in the 1970s,it should hardly be surprising.The movies broke free from the confines of grandeur,scenic,locations,cinematography,dialogues and in some cases even music,while letting the actors and the script steal the show.I feel I am a culprit,because even though I like such cinema I don’t watch movies in theatre.The only movie I watched in a theatre was Frozen2.
    It is sad that happenings like these bring out the importance of separate “parallel” cinema,when Indian cinema should revel in all kinds of content.But I feel that if we don’t watch movies in a theatte very often,then we should look for the critically acclaimed movies to watch.Even though people criticize Rotten Tomatoes(which really is very mild compared to Metacritic,which is quite a bit strict)as being “snobby” I find it much more reliable when it comes to overall quality of movies than other Indian movie databases which publish ratings before a movie is released.

    Like

    • Thank you for your thoughtful comment, I’m impressed that you took personal responsibility rather than looking outside. From my experience of SSR, I would go even further, and say we should ignore critics entirely. I found his performances excellent and delightful in Raabta and Byomkesh Bakshy, two movies the critics hated. There are many movies like them, and many actors like SSR, who don’t reach the perfection that critics seem to demand and yet have so much worth. Off the top of my head, I can think of Kartik Aaryan and Love Aaj Kal 2020 that just released. I think Kartik is an excellent actor in the same way as SSR, that is, he disappears into the demands of the role so completely that people may not notice the acting he is doing. I thought Love Aaj Kal 2020 was a perfectly fine movie for what it was trying to do. And both Kartik and the film were ripped apart by critics, and social media who followed their lead, instantaneously.

      How frustrating that must be! To put in all this work and have none of it acknowledged, to watch an accepted narrative spread and be taken up immediately. That happens again and again, actors and films dismissed at a first impression and no counter-opinions accepted. If SSR’s career were limited down to critical acclaim, I think only Sonchariya and Kai Po Che! might be left. Which is not fair, he worked hard and did good work, as do most actors, in many many films. Not just the ones that were good enough to please the Indian critics.

      On Wed, Jun 17, 2020 at 2:19 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s a sad thing that an actor is held responsible for a film’s failure.Even though Raabta and Byomkesh Bakshi weren’t perfect films,SSR did a commendable job with the role he was given.Same with Kartik,who stars in simple light-hearted movies but plays his role adequately.
        Indian film critics can be very confusing.They do their job of critiquing on a technical level very well,but their reviews are full of too many personal biases and putting the entire blame of the film on one person.I never noticed this problem with Hollywood,but in India certain critics seem to suffer an existential crisis unless they point out the BO record of the actors.An actor gets paid for a film,a critic has no right to equate the grossing of a film with an actor’s credibility.And it is highly frustrating that these critics review foreign movies with a high level of finesse,discussing every single aspect of filmmaking in great detail.But with Indian movies,their reviews seem to forget the distinction among actors,directors and producers.Because of such media influencers turned critics,people face self esteem issues despite movies doing fairly well.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yes! And almost no one is immune. The big stars, or the up and comers, they all get torn down based on preconcieved opinions. It can even be as simple as saying “this performance was bad because it didn’t live up to his last performance.” Well, maybe the needs of the last film were different from the needs of the current film. Instead of looking for flaws and comparing apples and oranges, you can look for what was good right here.

          Actually, I find that true for how critics treat all artists involved in a film. Directors, for instance, there’s a need for them to always top the last thing they did, go bigger and bigger each time. And do the exact same thing again and again. Anurag Kashyap can’t make Manmarziyaan because it’s not the same as Gangs of Wasseypur. Even though it is an interesting well-made perfectly fine movie on its own.

          On Wed, Jun 17, 2020 at 8:07 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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