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

 Indian will probe whether an up-and-coming Bollywood actor 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.

Sushant Singh Rajput, a 34 year-old actor 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 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 and some cultural commentators have criticised 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 ostracised him, although none provided concrete details and it was not immediately clear 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 through. We don’t know the cause. STOP taking out your frustration using the pain of a troubled person… Let him have his peace & his family privacy,” she tweeted on Tuesday. 

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