Wednesday, June 17, 2020


This year continues to boggle the mind with its capacity for unleashing tragedy on an unfathomable scale. The tragic passing of 34 - year old Sushant Singh Rajput has led to an outpouring of grief and triggered a much needed conversation about mental health. But of course, it didn't end there. The whole thing has become an unstoppable juggernaut of toxicity. First, there were the paparazzi types who plastered photos of his remains across the internet, uncaring that he is survived by family and friends who don't need this nonsense while coping with their loss. If that were not bad enough they barged into the homes of his aged, traumatized father and relatives with their prying cameras and intrusive questions so that their suffering could be broadcast on prime television for the consumption of the voracious public. Then the conspiracy theories began with everybody playing detective and floating theories that ran the gamut from bizarre, highly improbable to outright ridiculous, which was shared across social media where folks became more and more frenzied not unlike the sharks when they get a whiff of fresh blood.

You would think things couldn't get worse but of  course they did. Many denizens on the net and graduates of shady institutions like Whatsapp have gone certifiably bonkers after all and these have come to the conclusion that Karan Johar, Alia Bhatt and all the products of 'evil nepotism' are to blame for the death of Sushant (as if any of us can pretend that we give a crap about the collective good and not the ones who matter to us most!). Apparently even Salman Khan aka Sallu bhai aka Black Buck/Pavement dwellers killer and his family were also not as committed to Being Human as they routinely insist. Now I am not a Karan Johar fan. The man's show is insufferable and unwatchable and he spells coffee with a K (Sacrilege! And also Sacre Bleu!) Enough said. As for Salman Khan, I try not to be mean - spirited but confess to laughing out loud when my Dad described him as a 'topless and talentless wonder!' to get my cousin who is a fan to quit raving about him.

Be that as it may, it is awful to lash out madly even if you are grieving over the loss of a life snuffed out too soon and actually point fingers at others without rhyme or reason accusing them of being responsible for someone's death. That is a serious charge and it is unseemly to hurl such accusations without a shred of proof. Such conduct is inhumane and insufferable and we need to give it a rest. Period.

 It is perfectly understandable to envy the rich, powerful, beautiful and famous celebs whom most are obsessed with. But that doesn't mean you have been issued a free pass to attack them at every turn and spew hatred in their direction every chance you get.  It is unfair to make them the unwilling objects of either extreme reverence or revulsion. Why is it so hard for people to enjoy their work and leave them alone, resisting the urge to stick their noses into their private lives or sit in judgement of them?

Sushant's demise is a reminder that being talented, successful, good looking and famous does not render you immune to human suffering. We have been conditioned to think that being gorgeous, perfectly groomed, skinny and sculpted just so, expensively attired, branded out from head to toe, fabulously wealthy, Instagram worthy and famous are things to aspire toward because these thing supposedly make life fabulous and worth living. But we all know it is not true. People who have these things can still be more depressed than the immigrant who has been trudging homeward without even a buck to call his own or a  mouthful of food or water to sustain himself or a regular Joe who has been chasing away Corona blues with condensed milk while sighing over (insert the celeb you love/hate follow here)'s glam Instagram feed. It is inexplicable but there you have it.

Sometimes, it sucks to be alive and we don't need to compound the situation by being so hard on either ourselves or each other. Even the discussions surrounding mental health have devolved into heated arguments with bilge being spouted every which way. Some are convinced that posting a cutely worded post about how their door is always open, the house and kitchen bench is always safe, they can have coffee brewing in minutes, can lend you their understanding shoulders to cry on, blah, blah, etc. on FB can help those dealing with depression, feeling alone or suffering in silence. There are many who think that people are depressed because they stubbornly refuse to be happy. That these misguided souls who don't get how fortunate they are compared to the aforementioned immigrant workers simply need to get over themselves and move on. If they do yoga, try meditation, listen to whale sounds, catch up with buddies, etc. they will be right as rain.

Others insist that the taboos and stigma surrounding mental health and seeking treatment for the same be addressed by getting worked up about it while issuing torrential twitter threads. Of course, everybody is an expert these days on everything be it Corona, suicide, depression or defense, so nobody cares for anybody else's POV. All I can say is that sometimes a cup of coffee, a scoop of ice cream, a snatch of a beloved tune or a friendly conversation can go a long way and sometimes a prescription made out by a professional can provide relief. Whatever floats your boat in in other words. It does not have to be strictly this or that. It can be a little bit of this, that and more.

We still don't have answers where depression and assorted mental ailments are concerned. It is cool that we are trying to figure it out. Perhaps we will have a better handle on these things in future and lives can be saved. In the meantime, all we can do is support each other's choices whatever they may be and stop turning on each other when we are not attacking celebs for painting their faces to show solidarity with #BlackLivesMatter, being flag bearers of nepotism, or hawking their fave brand of lipstick. As for Sushant Singh Rajput, it is important that we celebrate his life, work, generosity, instead of attacking Karan Johar for not inviting him to some lousy party where the glam brigade show up in their designer togs and ignore the scrumptious food after photographing it for Instagram because their dietician warned them to stick only to boiled cabbage (which needs to be thrown up immediately after) because that is the only way to manage the Herculean task of pouring  oneself into a bandage dress. He may not have wanted to attend anyway because Sushant clearly preferred to spend his time on Quantum physics, helping the needy, writing poetry, playing the guitar, reading Sartre, making his kinda films, dreaming of visiting his slice of the moon and simply being himself. His memory would be better served if we remembered all the good things he stood for and learned from the demons he wrestled with. Don't you agree? 

Goodbye Sushant. Keep on doing your thing wherever you are. We will miss you.


Srini said...

Wonderfully written with a call for kindness. Thank You.

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