Bollywood’s Silence On Rhea Chakraborty’s Media Trial Is Deafening
Bollywood has projected so rosy a perception of their ever-lasting friendships that at some point or another we’ve all wished to be part of their circles. But not anymore. The blind eye Bollywood has turned towards Rhea Chakraborty’s unforgiving media trial in Sushant Singh Rajput‘s death case goes to show just how much spine the industry has – close to none. The A-listers especially, who wield so much power and influence over people’s imaginations, have chosen to remain silent throughout the course of this media circus. Doesn’t their fame bear any burden of responsible action? If not social responsibility, but shouldn’t Bollywood stars at least exercise their moral conscience?
Ever since Rajput’s death on June 14, the masses have been looking for a scapegoat to blame. And now that the suicide angle, which was deemed the original cause of Rajput’s death, stands contested, people’s resolve to “get justice” for the deceased actor has become even stronger. It has resulted in Chakraborty, Rajput’s former girlfriend, becoming the softest target to accuse. The Indian news media has been conducting a sort of parallel investigation alongside CBI’s official one, and a couple of them have already called for Chakraborty’s arrest. In this scenario of extreme character assassination of someone who is part of Bollywood, doesn’t the film industry feel they should speak up against the media houses and anchors who have pronounced Chakraborty guilty even before the CBI has arrived at a conclusion?
Why Is No One Raising A Voice Against Rhea Chakraborty’s Slut-Shaming?
Chakraborty has been slut-shamed, has had her identity maligned, her integrity questioned, and worst of all, been hounded by the media daily. The 28-year old even uploaded a video to her Instagram profile that showed how her father was harassed by reporters shoving mics and cameras in his face in front of their house. Chakraborty pleaded, “There is a threat to my life and my family’s life. How is this family going to live? I request @mumbaipolice to please provide protection so that we can cooperate with these investigation agencies.”
Bollywood’s infamous silence around controversial issues is known to everyone. Be it the Delhi Riots in February 2020, oppression of Dalit communities, or other social issues that affect us. Their silence on these issues, however, has always been explained vociferously as a symbolic distancing from topics that carry political undertones or consequences. But Chakraborty’s case is about basic sensitivity, more than anything else. Why then is there such a deafening silence around it? Are these stars so fearful of falling out of public favour that they can’t stand for what’s right anymore?
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'Innocent until proven guilty' or 'Guilty until proven innocent'?- @yaminipustake and @shortscrawls discuss why the media trials against #rheachakraborty need to stop right now! #sushantsinghrajput #sushantsinghrajputsupporter #sushantsinghrajputfans #justiceforsushantsinghrajput #indianmedia #indianjournalist #SheThePeople
It is not a question of taking sides. Nobody is asking for these stars to rally in support of Chakraborty’s “innocence.” But out of basic human decency, shouldn’t they at least publicly call out the misogyny and rape threats being hurled at her by those seeking justice for Rajput?
Stars Who Supported #BlackLivesMatter Are Silent Now
Is morality only content fodder for Bollywood? Why isn’t Akshay Kumar, who so valorously fought for women’s dignity in Toilet: Ek Prem Katha or Padman, speaking out against the media lynching of Chakraborty? Or why is Salman Khan, who is always ironically seen sporting Being Human merchandise, silent now? And not just the men, but women too. Kareena Kapoor Khan and Priyanka Chopra, top-performing actresses who righteously extended support for the #BlackLivesMatter movement in the US, have stuck to silence through these past two months.
Multiple top actors, directors, producers were quick to mourn Rajput’s death on social media with commemorative captions and pictures, regardless of whether they had worked with him or not. This included all those mentioned above. And more – from Shah Rukh Khan to Katrina Kaif. If they were capable of such emotive feelings back then for Rajput, don’t they have the capacity to stand up for the humiliation Chakraborty is being subjected to? Or is she too insignificant an industry member to stand up for? Would these stars have remained similarly silent if it was one of their inner circle friends being subjected to this trial by media?
Would Bollywood Have Remained Silent If An A-Lister Was Being Humiliated?
When Sanjay Dutt was named in the TADA case during the Bombay blasts in 1993, the entire film industry – including the biggest names like Shah Rukh Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Raveena Tandon, Suniel Shetty – had conducted a peace march with posters that read “Sanju – We’re With U.” Dutt was later convicted to six years of imprisonment for illegal possession of arms. These Bollywood actors who stood in solidarity with Dutt were the most bankable stars back then, and they are the most bankable stars even now. So what fears do they hold today in speaking up?
I am appalled at how irresponsibly media is ‘covering’ Rhea Chakravarty. Do they not remember Princess Diana? Are we never going to learn? Especially at a time when there is no dearth of serious issues to focus on. https://t.co/Z7JlA0p8Eh
— Konkona Sensharma (@konkonas) August 29, 2020
The few of them who have raised a voice in favour of letting the CBI and investigative agencies do their jobs are part of the circle that is anyway outspoken about their views – Taapsee Pannu, Swara Bhasker, Konkona Sen Sharma, Anubhav Sinha, Hansal Mehta, Anurag Kashyap. Shouldn’t A-listers of the industry take a leaf out of their books and condemn the media’s handling of this case? If they cared so much for Rajput to upload tributes on his demise, then why didn’t they object when anchor Navika Kumar stripped Rajput’s dignity by showing pictures of his dead body on national television the other day?
We shower far too much adulation on our movie stars than they usually deserve. What we should be showering them with, instead, are questions. They should be held accountable for the power they hold, the positions they occupy, and the impact they have on social life in India. It’s high time they put these advantages to good use.
Picture Credit: TOI
Views expressed are the author’s own.