Monday, 06 Jul 2020

Sushant Singh Rajput death by suicide draws attention to a fragility the industry's movie in India


Sushant Singh Rajput death by suicide draws attention to a fragility the industry's movie in IndiaSushant Singh Rajput death by suicide draws attention to a fragility the industry's movie in India - A popular Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput, was found dead in his home on June 14, 2020.

The 34-year-old actor death by suicide has revealed the pressures faced by those who work in Mumbai's film industry.

From celebrities to the professionals behind the scenes, the incident has drawn attention to the fragility that lies beneath the glamorous veneer of the industry. 

"The very idea of depression or anxiety is treated as a foreign concept, we don't have a vocabulary for such things in India," says Nikhil Taneja, CEO of Yuvaa, a youth media organization.

Read more: Egyptian actress Ragaa El-Gedawy has died in a quarantine hospital after testing positive for coronavirus

Within the film industry, well-known actors and directors face a different set of pressures, including being unable to reach out for help, says psychiatrist Dr. Dayal Mirchandani.

Bollywood actors also face a ticking clock, with a relatively short window to achieve success, which makes it an intensely competitive industry. The wide reach of social media has added to the feeling of living under constant scrutiny, says Amit Behl, film and TV actor. "It's like always being on high alert."

Since India imposed a strict lockdown on March 25 (partially lifted earlier this month) to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, film shoots were stopped and releases delayed.

This resulted in an increased feeling of "collective anxiety", says clinical psychologist Sonali Gupta. "In an industry that is already so unpredictable, it is difficult to have no template for the future."

Even for those who work behind the camera, the last few months have been a time of increased vulnerability.

Like many members of film crews, Fakhruddin Ali, who has been a gaffer since 1990, earns a daily wage. "If there is no work, there is no pay," he says.

Ali has managed to make ends meet with his savings and by renting out a property he owns. But many others have left Mumbai for their hometowns or villages.

Ravi Shetty, who works as a camera attendant for a production company, is yet to receive payment for his last job in mid-March. So far, he has borrowed small sums from friends and has chosen to stay in Mumbai, where he feels his family is safer from illness.

Read more: Pity; on Stage through Land, Sea, and Air, Now Via Vallen's Alphard is Burned by Someone

From within the industry, there have been efforts to support those facing hardship, says BN Tiwari, president of the Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE).

The group raised funds from actors, directors, producers, and other donors, and provided cash and rations to those in need, he says.

Versi Mobile