TLDR: When we see Kangana Ranaut act crazy, we judge and laugh at her expense. Like Sushant, she too is an ‘outsider’ in an abusive industry where pedigree matters over talent. Sushant had issues, but Bollywood wasn’t a support system that it claims to be.
14th June 2020 was a tragic day. The morning began with the news of Samir Bangara leaving us. The death shocked us; I was conversing with a peer discussing Samir when the story of Sushant rolled in. As I type this, I am getting flashes of his mortal remains that were forwarded on WhatsApp. Work from home (WFH) has been stressful on most of us but sharing such images in professional groups shocked me. I am going to divide this piece into three sections: pre, during and post.
When I was a brand manager with a company, I was extremely keen to work with Sushant. A lot of Bollywood agents told me that it wasn’t the right decision. Now, they are subject matter experts, so I said okay. However, the options presented to me weren’t satisfactory; I went back to my demand of working with Sushant. Then I was told the story of his depression and the inability to work with him because he is not reasonable. Only a few brand managers are regulars at Bollywood jamboree’s; I am not one of them. Heck, Sushant sporadically got invited to most of them! However, we have friends in the industry, and when I enquired, I found out that his ‘outsider’ ‘small-town boy’ tag has been difficult to shed. Sadly, I moved on, as a brand custodian, and as a fan.
I have lived a full life. There are joys that I have felt that were unsurmountable and sadness that has engulfed my entire being! I have had to rescue a person who tried to end their life. A dozen people in the last decade have had to deal with clinical depression. The person with clinical depression is not your friend, partner, or anyone else you know. They become raw with sensitivity and for an emotionally inadequate person like me a bother. In all of their cases, I have tried to protect them from the voyeuristic curiosity of society. Do I blame society — no? That does not mean I endorse the behaviour. The way the news media behaved and the empty social messages made my blood boil with anger. However, the worst is behind us.
First and foremost, I want to tell all self-help gurus with all due respect — STFU! Sushant was a terrific human being. People close to me have spent a considerable amount of time with him, and they adore him. Also, to the aunties and uncle waxing eloquent of their difficult times, please shove it. A man is dead, he does not need your sympathy anymore, but the world could use more empathy.