Latin American Herald Tribune – Mysterious Death of Indian Film Star Triggers...

Latin American Herald Tribune – Mysterious Death of Indian Film Star Triggers Socio-Political Storm

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NEW DELHI – The mysterious death of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput in June has triggered a prolonged controversy in India, with a legal battle over the investigation’s jurisdiction and allegations of abetting the suicide against Rajput’s girlfriend grabbing headlines in recent weeks.

The case of the 34-year-old actor, who was found dead at his flat in Mumbai on June 14, took a fresh turn on Wednesday after the Supreme Court transferred the probe to the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI).

The top court’s decision ended a jurisdiction dispute between the western state of Maharashtra, whose capital Mumbai is home to the film industry, and the northern Bihar, Rajput’s home state.

“It was really amazing as to how there was an overpowering desire of the people of India that justice must be done to Sushant,” Justice Minister Ravi Shankar Prasadi said in a statement after the court decision.

However, the judicial verdict has not put an end to intense speculation over the causes behind the actor’s death as well as rumors about his possible struggles with depression and allegations leveled by his parents.

In late July, Rajput’s father had alleged that his son’s girlfriend – actress Rhea Chakraborty – and her family had pressurized his son into committing suicide and robbed him of millions of dollars.

Mumbai police had concluded that Rajput had committed suicide, and had been investigating if he suffered depression and had faced ostracism and discrimination by a section of the Bollywood.

This theory had initially triggered a public outcry along with a debate over mental health in a country where the topic is usually absent from public debate.

Subsequently, Sushant’s father’s allegations fueled speculations even further, with the actor’s public and professional life becoming a subject of intense media scrutiny.

Rajput began his career with small roles in TV soaps before debuting on the big screen in 2013 with the successful “Kai Po Che!” and went on to star in some of the biggest hits in recent years, such as “MS Dhoni: The Untold Story” – the 2015 biopic of the captain of the Indian cricket team – and “Chhichhore” (2019).

Born in a middle-class family in the state of Bihar, one of the poorest in the country, Rajput had dropped out of studying engineering to pursue an acting career.

His relatively humble origins and ascent to success in the closely-knit Indian film industry without any obvious “godfather” have been perceived as a sharp contrast and challenge to the nepotism and influence-peddling culture prevalent in Bollywood.

The actor’s background and long struggle against the odds had won him a sizable fan base, which began demanding explanations on social media and deriding the Bollywood power structure soon after his death, with some famous actors such as Anupam Kher also joining the chorus over time.

Kher and many other public figures had backed the demand for handing over the probe to the CBI, India’s premier investigating agency.





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