While it has been over a month since the nepotism debate has been rocking the Indian entertainment industry following Sushant Singh Rajput’s shocking death to suicide, an important part of this conversation has been conveniently ignored. As people lock horns over the insider vs outsider and nepotism debate, hardly anyone seems to be addressing the actual elephant in the room i.e. mental health.
Actress Richa Chadha yesterday shared a blog post in which she raised the same while fondly remembering her “old friend” Sushant. “There has been much chatter about nepotism and too little about what this environment can do to a person’s mental health. All this in the wake of a suicide by a beautiful actor who happened to be an old friend,” Richa wrote as she opened her blogpost.
Richa has also written about how acting can be a “deeply isolating profession, wherein success and failure are both public and bring their share of dilemmas. Ours is a business where personal life is invariably affected by public life.”
In her detailed blog post, the actress has addressed all the conversations that have surfaced post-Sushant’s demise and why they need to be replaced by a conversation on mental health. She also alleged that the “hollow condolences” have been shared by the same kind of people from the industry who crush you at their will and never give two hoots about someone’s well-being. Here are extracts from what she had to say:
“Sushant and I started out by workshopping together in a theatre group,” Richa writes recollecting the time when she first became friends with the deceased actor. She adds, “I was sharing a 700 sq ft apartment in Andheri West with a friend from Delhi. Sushant would pick me up on his bike and we would head to the rehearsal, for which I was grateful. I wasn’t poor or broke. But I can’t say money was not a consideration when I had to head out to do an ad audition for a brand. I would worry about my make up melting in the auto-rickshaw before I even arrived. This would NEVER happen with a ‘star-kid’, and if it does, they will be lauded for being humble enough to take the rickshaw in the first place. But I don’t resent their privilege.”
For Richa, this segregation and privilege or the lack of it is perhaps the major point of distinction between star kids and “outsiders” as the likes of her and Sushant are being called these days. Again, for her, this is also the point that brought her and Sushant together.
According to her, the industry works as a food chain and no one thinks twice before crushing you for their benefits. Calling out the hypocrisy of so many who shared condolences after Sushant’s death, she writes, “Several directors were seen sharing condolence messages a month ago. So many among these have run down movies of their peers pre-release, have replaced actresses who refused to sleep with them at the last minute and several have in fact repeatedly forecasted ‘iska kuch nahi hoga’.”
Further sharing her opinion on the debate, Richa insists that when it comes to the actual assessment of the outsider vs insider discourse, there’s not as much of a fine line as one would like to believe. She insisted that there exist all kinds of people in both the fractions. As she writes, “There are insiders who can be kind and generous, and outsiders who are punitive egomaniacs. In the nascent phase of my career, I was often ‘cut to size’ by outsiders. It took me all my strength to recover from various forms of subtle sabotage. But this is not about me. The tragic part is that everyone here has experienced a version of this.”
She also comments on the nepotism debate and writes, “As for nepotism, it just makes me laugh out loud in real life. I don’t hate “star kids”. Why are we expected to? If someone’s father is a star, they are born into that household the same way as we are to our folks. Are you ashamed of your parents? Is it right to expect someone else to be ashamed of their parents/families/legacy? This is a hateful and nonsense argument.”
While Richa thoroughly recognises the privilege that star kids enjoy, it isn’t really a matter of contention for her right now as she believes that mental health should be the most discussed topic right now.
Commenting on how raising a debate on nepotism and blaming others for “murdering” Sushant effectively hampers an important conversation on mental health, she writes, “This ‘blaming’ trivialises a situation as grave as this and conveniently ignores the role of mental health. I am surprised by our collective lack of dismay or shock at how low we have stooped in our discourse. The social media timelines of the deceased actor’s friends and girlfriend are littered with filth! Who are these ‘fans’?”
As Richa clearly implies, it is not the time to discuss nepotism and people behind, to hate them or, worse, send threatening and hateful messages to them. It is time to elaborate on what nepotism leads to, the mentally toiling environment that so many have been succumbing to, and to think of ways to eradicate this toxicity. There’s some serious food for thought here!
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