It's been a year since actor Sushant Singh Rajput's death shocked the world, initiating a conversation around the mocking culture, and its impact on one's life. Now, the question that remains unanswered is whether anything has changed in this one year, or not.
Turns out the noise of mocking has been silenced by the voices fighting against the culture. However, there are still miles to go to see a shift in the right direction.
Writer-editor Apurva Asrani, who called out all the blind items that talked about Rajput's without any proof through social media last year, hopes "the writers of such pieces have realised that mere words on paper can push someone already vulnerable over the edge".
He elaborates, "If you're putting out a story against someone's character, then it's important that you verify your facts and have the courage to name the subject at least. Sushant was called a skirt chaser, an alcoholic, unprofessional and arrogant in blind items that described him but didn't name him. He was even accused of molesting a co-actor in one blind piece, but there were no complaints, allegations or proof of any of this in the real world."
On June 14, 2020, Rajput was found dead in his apartment in Mumbai. What was alleged as a suicide first, now remains to be a topic of discussion, with many conflicted theories emerging.That Rajput was affected by people within the film industry mocking him — sometimes about his work, sometimes about his relationships, or a fraternity person simply denying knowing who he was on a chat show — was also alleged as one of the reasons he wasn't happy.
According to Asrani, the accusations come with the pressure to work hard to get rid of the taint, and is praying this never happens to anyone again.
"Having said that, I'm closely watching the new media narratives about Kartik Aaryan and noticing that things are being said about him without any quote or verification from him," he adds.
That being said, an actor's life is always a subject of curiosity for all, and mocking comes as part of the job profile, which is understandable, says actor Shivin Narang.
"But these things should not be a part of propaganda or targeting an individual just for favouritism or hampers one's image. Because celeb or no celeb, we all are human beings and all these things affect subconsciously and can be disturbing after a point," asserts Narang, who himself has "come across a lot of things about myself which aren't true or just cooked up for gossip".
When it comes to the culture of blind items, actor Dheeraj Dhoopar is not sure if anything has changed at all, "at least people have started talking about it and calling it out, which is a good thing".
But the key lies in treating "actors as humans, who also have emotions", points Dhoopar.
"There are times when people just start judging actors or mocking them when we post something on social media, without thinking that there may be a reason behind it. The world should be less judgmental and more understanding," Dhoopar mentions.