The Sushant Singh Rajput death is now suspected to be homicide and is being linked to the death of his business associate, Disha Salian, a week earlier. The case, while being investigated, has reportedly unearthed a huge drug trafficking racket with active involvement of people from the film industry along with a few politicians.
Investigations have turned into a sort of tug of war between the central agencies of the government of India on one side, which has no agenda except finding the criminals, and the Maharashtra state machinery and some film personalities on the other side. The media that matters, though fewer in number, especially the TV channels, is keeping the issue alive relentlessly and being victimised for the same.
If one uses the idiom Pandora’s Box one more time here, nothing will justify it more aptly then what is happening in the film industry, the media and the local politics of Maharashtra. The matter has now knocked at the doors of both the Houses of the Indian Parliament, the Lok Sabha as well as the Rajya Sabha.
Since not much has been happening at the state level, a Member of Parliament, Ravi Kishan, also a film star and a veteran of 600 films, no less, raised the issue in Lok Sabha on how drugs were taking a toll on young and aspiring filmstars and others. And, that it needed to be checked.
Fair enough, since Ravi Kishan was raising a relevant issue being a parliamentarian along with also being a part of the film industry. He urged that the future of those aspiring to be part of the film fraternity be safeguarded against the drug menace.
Now, what was wrong with Ravi Kishan raising a point in Parliament? Nothing to a normal person who has been following the whole affair that started from the unnatural death of a young Disha Salian, followed by that of rising star Sushant Singh Rajput within a week of hers?
That would have been in the natural course of his responsibility as an MP for Ravi Kishan.
But, what happened next in the Rajya Sabha was strange and totally out of character of a senior member of the upper house of the Parliament. Jaya Bachchan, a member representing the Samajwadi Party, got up to play self-appointed matron mother figure of the film industry. In a strange and illogical as well as irrelevant diatribe, she ran down a duly-elected LS member Ravi Kishan for the issues raised by him, which were very relevant.
Ravi expressed his concern about a huge quantity of drugs being supplied to the film industry enticing the youth, and said that the Narcotics Bureau was doing a great job unearthing the rot. That the drugs came into India from China and Pakistan via Nepal.
What was rather uncanny was the stand taken by RS member Jaya Bachchan the next day. It would be more appropriate to call it an outburst. Nothing she said made sense. The film industry gives job to five lakh daily workers and five million otherwise? Well, how many daily wage industry workers were fed by her or her industry during the last six months of the lockdown? None. Where did she get the figure of five million employed by the film industry? There is no verified source.
Actually, the industry outsources labour, housekeeping, on-shoot staff and what have you. It never offers permanent employment. And all these people to whom jobs are outsourced were let down by the industry; their contracts were terminated and those few who were employed directly, were not paid. If the film industry, like all other industries, employs workers, it is because it can’t work without help. It is not a charity by any means.
She claimed Kangana Ranaut and Ravi were defaming the industry! Since when did pointing out the evils prevailing in the industry came to be known as defaming? During her verbal outburst, why had Jaya nothing to say about the suspicious death of two young aspirants in the film industry, namely Disha and Sushant?
Kangana and Ravi want the industry to be protected from drugs and drug mafia. Why does Jaya think they are defaming the industry? And, are the film industry people the only ones paying income tax? That was an imbecile comment. You earn, you pay tax. You are not earning from the film industry, like all others you are earning from the Indian people who are also taxpayers.
While Kangana and Ravi were urging the government for protection for the film industry from the drug menace, Jaya Bachchan was strangely asking the government for protection from Kangana and Ravi!
In fact, Ms Bachchan should introspect and ask her industry folks why agencies like CBI, ED and NCB needed to descend on the industry, which never had such scrutiny ever before.
Are these people for real?
And, which “thali chhed” was Jaya talking about? Everybody works for his or her own thali and pointing out things like nepotism, drug abuse, sex scandals and such are not called “thali mein chhed”. On the contrary, it amounts to caring for and being loyal to your industry. If Ravi or Kangana talked about these evils, they were doing a great service to the industry, not harming it. One should appreciate their move, not brand them as traitors.
When all this was happening, we heard of people like Sonu Sood and a few others, never of Jaya Bachchan, even as a RS member, doing their mite for the hungry and deprived.
Lastly, I miss the very purpose of Ms Jaya Bachchan to get up in Rajya Sabha and raise the muck where none existed! Respect and trust CBI, NCB and ED, they will deliver. They are the part of the government you were so vehemently pleading to. Without you saying so, the government is already on the job.
(Vinod Mirani is a veteran film writer and box office analyst. The views expressed are personal)