A slightly longer version of this post was published under a different title in Southasia Multidisciplinary Academic Journal (Issue 24/25, 2020)
A young, successful, Hindi film actor died in tragic circumstances. What followed was a sensational real life movie, scripted in the headquarters of Hindu Rashtra, as part of its larger campaign to control the cultural arena.
Sushant Singh Rajput was found hanging in his bedroom in a Mumbai flat in June 2020, and it was initially declared as suicide by the Mumbai police. Within days however, the hashtag Justice for SSR started trending, and suddenly thousands of devoted and inconsolable fans had sprung up all over social media, all attacking “Bollywood” (the Bombay film industry) for its “nepotism” which had deprived a talented actor of work, driving him to suicide. “Boycott Bollywood” was a key theme in this frenzied outpouring of apparent grief. From here it escalated to claims that Rajput had been murdered, and that a drug cartel linked to Bollywood stars was involved in the crime. Soon these claims were all that one could see on social media, and on some Hindi, Marathi and English television channels, specially Republic and Times Now, which specialize in sensationalist and blatantly pro-Hindutva political reportage, including fake news (for one instance see Bajpai 2020). Continue reading Sushant Singh Rajput, Hindu Rashtra and Bollywood