Actor’s suicide sparks debate about insularity in Bollywood film industry

MUMBAI (Reuters) – Indian police will probe whether an up-and-coming Bollywood actor who committed suicide at the weekend was depressed in part due to “professional rivalry,” in a film industry that is dominated by big names and has been accused of being insular.

FILE PHOTO: File picture of actor Sushant Singh Rajput talking to the press at the International Indian Film Academy Rocks show at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, U.S., July 14, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Penney/File Photo

Sushant Singh Rajput, a 34 year-old actor who won acclaim and fans for his roles in several top-draw films, hailed from a middle-class family with no Bollywood connections – a relative rarity in the industry.

Rajput was found dead at his residence in Mumbai on Sunday.

“There are media reports that he allegedly suffered from clinical depression because of professional rivalry. @MumbaiPolice will probe this angle too,” the home (interior) minister in Maharashtra, which includes the film capital Mumbai, tweeted late on Monday.

Several of Rajput’s friends in the industry have written about his struggles to break through, while social media and some cultural commentators have criticized the allegedly closed culture in Bollywood, where some families have dominated for up to four generations.

Rajput’s family has not commented so far.

At least half a dozen accounts by Rajput’s industry colleagues suggested Bollywood’s clique-drive culture ostracized him, although none provided concrete details and it was not immediately clear who specifically they were talking about.

“I knew the pain you were going through. I knew the story of the people who let you down so bad that you used to weep on my shoulder,” Shekhar Kapur, who was supposed to direct Rajput in a film that was eventually shelved, wrote in a tweet on Monday.

Kapur did not immediately respond to a request for further details.

In a separate tweet, actress Swara Bhasker called accusations against Bollywood personalities “the height of idiocy.”

“We don’t know what he (Rajput) went thru. We don’t know the cause. STOP taking out ur frustration using the pain of a troubled person… Let him have his peace & his family privacy,” she tweeted on Tuesday.

Reporting by Shilpa Jamkhandikar; Editing by Alexandra Ulmer and Raju Gopalakrishnan

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