In public interest or what interests public: Indian media on Sushant Singh Rajput’s death

In public interest or what interests public: Indian media on Sushant Singh Rajput’s death

On 14th June 2020, Sushant Singh Rajput was found dead in his home in Bandra, Mumbai. Since that day the entire country has engaged itself in a heated discussion, debates on nepotism, and mental health. There were immediate rumors and allegations that the actor had killed himself because he was sidelined by families and actors who control the Bollywood industry. 

While there is truth to this claim because there is an ‘insider’s club’ in the Hindi film industry. Star kids are always at an advantage and various production houses are known to favor them over “outsiders”. It is also known that there are “camps” in Bollywood and rubbing the right people in the wrong way can break people’s careers. Problems of nepotism in the Hindi film industry need to be discussed, but did actor Sushant Singh Rajput, die because of nepotism and can someone be directly held responsible for his death, in absence of solid proof? Is a question we must ask ourselves.

The case was transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on 19th August, but a media trial for the case has been going on for over two months. Personal details of the deceased actor; Whatsapp chats, texts, sensational claims on his relationship, and his mental health diagnosis are making headlines every day. 

Media’s coverage of Sushant Singh Rajput’s death marks the death of empathy, ethics, and basic human courtesy. Hindi news channels stooped to a new low. Sensational headlines such as “Phaansi ” (India TV), minute and disturbing details about death (Colour of the cloth around his neck on Aaj Tak), to harassing relatives for sound bytes (ABP news), show exactly how a tragic event should not be reported. 

English news channels were not far behind, as Arnab Goswami, editor-in-chief, Republic TV, decided it was in Public interest to host a one-hour special, with Actress Kangana Ranaut as she held strong views on Sushant’s death. Mind you, this is the same actress who without an ounce of evidence claimed the actor’s death to be a “planned murder”. Surely, the “voice of the nation” confused “public interest” with “what interests public”. 

In the time following the actor’s death online hashtags, personal motives, political campaigns have taken center stage. While CBI solves the case, Indians have already decided on the question, “whether it was murder or death”. Contrary to what they would have us believe, Politicians, actors, and Indian media, and many among us, are doing a disservice to a great actor’s memory. By making sensational claims, promoting conspiracy theories, revealing personal details it is Sushant who is being put to trial. 

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