Even after three weeks since actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death, conspiracy theories, assumptions and debates over the premature end of a promising life and career refuse to subside. Angered by this constant rumour-mongering, blame game and social media toxicity, actress Raveena Tandon has urged, “Stop sensationalising it now. You can’t blame anyone, not the film industry. This is just becoming a witch-hunt, a lynch mob, which is wrong. People have to think rationally. It’s doing a great disservice to the poor boy who’s gone.”
Recently, in a media interview with an online portal, Raveena Tandon shed light on politics in the film industry. She said politics was prevalent in Bollywood, of course. Some people plan others’ failure and want them out of films, envying their success, she said. However, according to Raveena Tandon, if there are bad people in the industry, there are good people too.
Raveena Tandon revealed in the interview that actors were easily thrown out of movies. She said she had been ousted from several projects because of various reasons. However, every time she was replaced, she reminisced an old interview of yesteryears’ actor Shashi Kapoor. He had shared how he was removed from a film overnight.
The sizzling actress of the 1990s exclaimed that legends like Shashi Kapoor motivated and encouraged her to give her best and stay focussed, come what may.
However, Tandon does not deny the existence of “camps and mean girl gang” in Bollywood, something that she had also tweeted about after Rajput’s death when many other actors had called out the toxic star culture and favouritism in the film industry.
“There is politics, I agree. And there are good people and there are bad people. This is what I had written in my tweet too. There are bad people who do plan your failure; I’ve been through it. They are the ones who would want to see you down and removed from films. It’s literally like classroom politics. They play dirty games,” she says.
Raveena qualifies her statement then: “But people like this are there in every industry. We’re in a high profile glamorous job and the competition is cut-throat, so it gets highlighted.”
The actress goes on to give her own example of being removed from a film overnight at the behest of the ‘mean girl gang’ that she referred to.
“I was working on fittings with a film’s designer for an outfit for the evening mahurat party. At 4 PM, I get a call that I’ve been dumped from the movie and I’ve to return the signing amount because the hero’s girlfriend didn’t like me,” Raveena said, quoting an interview of late actor Shashi Kapoor that helped her deal with that situation.
On being told how Rajput always feared being thrown out of Bollywood if his films didn’t work, Tandon says that’s a reality every actor must face.
“Even the top-most stars and top-most producers, brothers or sons of directors have that fear. If that were not the case, all star kids would be superstars today, but there are many who have been thrown out of Bollywood. So, when Sushant appealed to the people to come and see his films, nobody knew he was so charged with emotions. The boy went much deeper and maybe was always emotionally very fragile,” says Tandon, unable to fathom “what drove such a young, handsome, talented, successful boy to take this drastic step”.
Rajput’s mysterious death sparked off the insider-versus-outsider debate. Tandon points out how actors like Shah Rukh Khan, Ranveer Singh and Amitabh Bachchan never had any godfather or connection in the industry.
“According to this outsider-insider phraseology, my dad was a filmmaker, so I’m supposed to be an insider, right? But he had retired; he never launched me, never put money in any film. I was discovered at a pizza shop. Before that, I was doing ads and nobody gave me ads because I was Ravi Tandon’s daughter. A casting scout called me and later they discovered I was my father’s daughter. However, I still get abused on social media with people saying that you are a result of nepotism too,” Raveena rues.
With the spotlight back on the importance of mental health, the actress is of the opinion that there can’t be a better help than one’s family members and closest friends. “There are signs of depression in a person that you can see. There are signs you know, can see and read. When you talk to the psychiatrist, they say, ‘Okay, these are the signs’. In America and all, it might be a fad to go to a psychiatrist and they talk to you, but in India, our families, best friends are so close that you can reach out to them, to your best friends,” says the actress.
Referring to Rajput who often said he wasn’t a part of any camp, group or power centre in Bollywood, Tandon adds, “I could kind of, to a certain extent, identify with Sushant because I myself never had many friends within the industry except for Neelam Kothari, Juhi Chawla, Shilpa Shetty. These are probably the only girls I really got along with. We are still friends now. But during my rock-bottom days, my friends who were always there for me were those from school and college, who have been constantly with me. I have seen what all I’ve gone through in my life. Also, I believe parents are the biggest and strongest backbone and I have always talked to them.”