Scandals and controversies come hand-in-hand in the world of showbiz, something probably everyone who is a part of the business signed up for. When actor Sushant Singh Rajput died, the conversation started with mental health and depression, escalated into a public outrage against Bollywood, spearheaded by actor Kangana Ranaut, who called out the film industry for being an unpleasant place for “outsiders”, and debates around nepotism gained prominence.
As filmmaker Karan Johar, and actors Alia Bhatt, Sonam Kapoor, Sonakshi Sinha and others were brutally trolled on social media, which even led them to limit their digital presence, on the investigation front, the Mumbai Police summoned many people from the film industry including Rhea Chakraborty, the girlfriend of the late actor as well as prominent names such as filmmakers Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Aditya Chopra for questioning about Rajput’s death.
Soon after, the Enforcement Directorate filed a money laundering case against Chakraborty and others on the basis of Rajput’s father’s FIR in Patna, Bihar. But the tirade against the film industry continued and it became an open battle between two sections of Bollywood. It was after the involvement of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) in the case that the drug angle came to light, leading to the arrests of a number of peddlers along with Chakraborty and her brother. The case now has taken a turn as the NCB has summoned actors Deepika Padukone, Rakul Preet Singh, Shraddha Kapoor and Sara Ali Khan — as part of its widening probe into the alleged use of drugs by celebrities. Is this the lowest Bollywood’s reputation has hit ever? We talk to the film fraternity.
Taapsee Pannu: I don’t think that this is the worst phase of Bollywood. The Hindi film industry is too big and beyond this to hit a low because of these self vested issues created by some people.
Shyam Benegal: Film industry is the microcosm of the county itself. It has its bad eggs and good eggs just like the world we live in. Why is everybody starting to feel that there is so much of vice in the film industry and why suddenly now? The film industry has been there for a long time. Because it is in the public eye everything gets magnified beyond any proportion.
Suchitra Krishnamoorthi: I just feel this is a serious situation and very serious investigation. Whatever it is just appearing on and called for a NCB probe does not make anybody a criminal. Juts cooperate with the authorities and help clean up this. People should not be scared and help this drug nexus muck out of the system. Juts come clean, that’s all.
Nimrat Kaur: This the worst phase humanity is going through. As far as the film industry is concerned, I am eternally optimistic and hopeful that the truth and the dignity shall prevail. This is a country that showers all its love and admiration and affection on its superstars. They are going to look after us, this is genuinely a phase and it shall pass.
Sanjay Gupta: This is just a phase and we will get out of it. These matters will be tried and court and justice will prevail. There is this whole tamasha that has been happening. It is ridiculous, what is happening is a joke. I just feel very strongly people are not stupid anymore, the general public will not get conned and fooled by this.
Shekhar Suman: I think this the best phase of the Indian film industry where all the stigmas, malpractices, underhand dealings, underworld money, gang-ism, favouritism, money laundering, source of funding, drugs, sexual exploitation, kingpins holding the industry to ransom, bhaigiri would come to an end. And what will emerge is a clean, healthy, fair and democratic industry where only real talent will survive. The industry is going through a cleansing and overhauling process and course correction.
Samir Soni: I don’t know if it is the worst phase but it isn’t not the best either. Had it been a random actor and not Deepika Padukone, the news about the drug probe, might not have hit the headlines. Such is the nature of the profession. Fact of the matter is Bollywood is not entirely innocent but to single them out is not correct. I am sure there is a drug problem in other sectors including politics and especially in schools and colleges.
Tigmanshu Dhulia: After the entire underworld problem that I witnessed back in the 90s, the ongoing mess has to be the most disturbing and worst phase for the Hindi film industry. Anything is happening. We have lost so many of our friends this year besides facing the Covid-19 pandemic. And now, all of this. It’s so depressing and painful to watch or hear about all of this. I have stopped watching news channels completely but I still get to hear, and it’s so unpleasant.
Ramesh Sippy : I am deeply pained with the way the industry’s image is being tarnished. It’s a lovely industry with some really wonderful people. So, it saddens me to see the industry being in the line of fire. I have never seen in happen earlier. I feel, honestly, the media is to be blamed for everything as much as anyone else. A section of the media is specifically taking up the same things without any investigation or proof. As a member of the industry, I wish none of it had happened.
(With inputs from Prashant Singh and Kavita Awaasthi)