Actor Richa Chadha took to her blog, titled “Musings…”, to pen a long, opinionated piece about all that has cooked up a storm in Bollywood, in the aftermath of Sushant Singh Rajput‘s suicide last month. True to character, Chadha has not minced her words in the 3900-word post that touches upon everything that falls within the ambit of controversy – from nepotism to Salman Khan. As the national conscience still grapples with the loss of a spirited actor, whose demise was embroiled in badmouthed journalism, death threats to girlfriend Rhea Chakraborty, and temporary concern towards mental health, Chadha’s blogpost is an honest attempt at laying bare all that is wrong with the system. As we marked Singh’s one-month death anniversary on July 14, it is fitting to take a look at Chadha’s commemoration to the late actor – from one industry “outsider” to another.
Richa Chadha Writes on Nepotism
Titled “An unpopular opinion…” Chadha’s post begins with Sahir Ludhianvi’s poignant words from the 1957 Guru Dutt classic, Pyaasa, “Ye duniya agar mil bhi jaaye toh kya hai.” Attaching a photo of herself and Singh, Chadha immediately nips the problem in the bud, calling out the notorious insider v/s outsider debate. She writes, “In my opinion the Hindi film industry and it’s entire eco-system is only divided between kind and unkind people.” Rightly, it dispels the generalisation people been casting on Bollywood in the last month. They often forget, that boycotting a film, however high it ranks on the Nepometer, will simultaneously discount the work of a hundred other spot-boys, make-up artists, supporting actors, crew, and staff who are all self-made.
Also Read: Sushant Singh Rajput’s Death: Media Coverage Hits A New Low
Moreover, Chadha asks – “Is it right to expect someone else to be ashamed of their parents/families/legacy?” – calling it a “nonsense argument” to expect people to “hate star kids.” Children of legacy stars do have an edge over others who painstakingly relocate to the City of Dreams, often without means or possible ends. Chadha too acknowledges this with an anecdote involving Singh, writing that when both of them were struggling actors, “Sushant would pick me up on his bike and we would head to the rehearsal, for which I was grateful.” Travelling in auto-rickshaws would mean reaching auditions with melted makeup and untidy clothes – a hardship star kids aren’t familiar with. But for that, she says, “I don’t hate star kids,” for they too “have to deal with rivalry within their own clans.” Anonymously, she makes a reference, possibly to Abhay Deol, who recently wrote of his own struggle with “reverse nepotism”, hailing from Dharmendra’s family tree.
The star kids concept is a complex, flawed one. But one that should not be given more space or negativity than it deserves. Chadha writes “…When someone asks if I suffer because I am not a “star-kid”, I declare loud and proud that in fact I am. My parents aren’t just stars, they are superstars for raising me right.”
Sexism and Hypocrisy is Rampant in the Industry
With explicit candour, Chadha spells out what we as women face in every walk of our lives, every single day – sexism. She calls out the hypocrisy of the audience and the industry, which makes inspirations out of actors-turned-stars who proudly claim on public platforms that they cannot converse in English, and “rolls its eyes” at actresses who lack polish or fluency. She mentions a “peculiar lecherous ‘pap’, who positions himself in front of car doors, hoping to get a good shot of the underwear of an actress emerging from a car.”
Also Read: No, Karan Johar and Alia Bhatt Can’t be Blamed for Sushant Singh’s Death
Aside from sexism, Chadha also casts a bright beam on the hypocrisy of people, both within and outside the industry. She, with anonymous references, calls out a spate of big directors and producers who shed “crocodile tears” on Singh’s death publicly, but are known to bully their film crews and withhold payment of spot-boys. She makes mention of a make-up artist who is owed “money commensurate with a 1BHK property in Andheri” by Bollywood. “One can’t even trust one’s own agency/manager because they will steal from you,” she says. In an exposé of “journalists, publicists, film promotion people” who say they are sick of the industry’s “toxicity”, Chadha calls them the “most venomous people.”
She also brings notice to something so pertinent, something that none in the industry, let alone those outside it, have dared to do yet – the so-called “fans” of Singh. She asks, “Who are these ‘fans’?”, condemning them for polluting the timelines of Singh’s colleagues (ex-girlfriend Ankita Lokhande, producer Karan Johar, actor Alia Bhatt) and girlfriend (Chakraborty) with rape and death threats. Calling out their hypocrisy, she writes, “The same gutter mouths that abused Sushant when he took a stand on the ‘Padmavat’ issue are now abusing his loved ones for ‘not being there’ for him.”
Is There A Solution?
Chadha admits, and rightly so, that sexism will thrive in Bollywood awhile, because “this ‘last gasp of patriarchy’ is basically a gasp for air in the middle of a loud laugh.” But while the sexism issue floats untethered, what of the other issues – that of non-payment, bullying, backhanded nepotism, and opportunism? Making examples out of the largesse of “Salman Khan” and other actors “who have been helping out silently”, as well as “unions” who have kept a check on their spot-boys during these trying times of the COVID pandemic, Chadha suggests a more permanent solution to support artists. She asks – “Why can’t actors be paid royalty?” – while noting that the paltry sum of INR 2.5 lakhs she was paid for Gangs of Wasseypur would do well to surmount to more money every time the film’s rights are used somewhere.
She condemns the opportunism the media and journalists portrayed during Irrfan and Sushant’s deaths, or during the death of her boyfriend Ali Fazal’s mother, or the way they hound Kajol’s daughter or Taimur Ali Khan. Her observations are spot-on; in the fight for TRPs and social media fame, the world indeed is losing soul. The paparazzi prey on people, bring us the shameful leftovers, and we are hungry for more. Asking us all to do better, Chadha says, “If indeed 2020 is the storm, then let it be one that clears our path… May we open our hearts to bask in the light of another’s achievements,” ending with a few more lines by Ludhianvi and a haunting still from Pyaasa.
Tanvi Akhauri is an intern with SheThePeople.TV. Views expressed are the author’s own.