On Tuesday evening, Rahul Raj Singh was booked for abetting the suicide of his girlfriend, Balika Vadhu actress Pratyusha Banerjee.
Ever since news of Pratyusha’s suicide emerged on 1 April — it was Rahul who discovered the body and took her to Kokilaben Hospital in Mumbai — there has been speculation that relationship troubles were what drove the 24-year-old actress to take the extreme step.
There have been allegations by Pratyusha’s parents and close friends from the TV industry that the relationship between Rahul and Pratyusha was a violent, abusive one.
But who really is Rahul Raj Singh? What was his claim to fame apart from being Pratyusha’s boyfriend?
Industry watchers will tell you that Rahul was struggling to make it in showbiz. Others claim that he “latched on to” Pratyusha in the hopes of using her contacts/fame to get work himself.
“His claim to fame was Pratyusha and her sad demise has finally made Rahul famous,” said one scribe who covers the TV industry. Our source also tells us that Rahul wanted to bag the reality show Power Couple on Sony Television, through Pratyusha, which would give him some much-needed visibility.
Incidentally, both Rahul and Pratyusha were originally from Jamshedpur and began dating in July/August last year, after meeting at a mutual friend’s home.
Rahul’s career began with a few modelling assignments, and he moved to Mumbai over a decade ago, having bagged the lead role in the TV show Mata Ki Chowki. He went on to launch his own event management and film production company. Not many know that Rahul was a state-level cricketer and had once shared the ground with Mahendra Singh Dhoni. His interest in cricket still persists, and he is the owner of a team called the Yuva Tiger Cricket Club.
However, it appears that not many trust Rahul’s credentials in the television industry. There have been some claims that he duped several women out of their money on the pretext of making films.
“I never liked Rahul. He would brag a lot, claim to be a big time producer. He once lied about owning a resort in Colombo and later a friend found out about it. Besides the show Mata Ki Chowki, nothing much has happened in his career. I told Pratyusha what I'd heard about him but I guess she was madly in love with him. She chose the wrong guy. Hence, there were differences between Pratyusha and me and we rarely met,” said actress Sara Khan, a former friend of Pratyusha’s. Sara pointed out that several women had come forward on news channels to talk about being swindled by Rahul.
Television actress Kamya Punjabi, who was Pratyusha’s fellow participant on the reality show Bigg Boss, echoed similar sentiments. “A few girls recently told me that Rahul had taken money from them. I’d heard through our common friends that he was fraud and was involved with many women before he met Pratyusha. I had met him only twice and didn’t want to know him further. Pratyusha would tell me that she was having a rough relationship and she wanted to get out of it and concentrate on her work," said Kamya.
Another TV actor told us on condition of anonymity that Rahul was “a small-time actor who failed in the industry and resorted to foul means to make money". This actor also alluded to rumours that Rahul had been previously married, but never mentioned his divorce to anyone.
“Rahul claims to be a producer as well besides being an actor but I have my doubts about it. He did not have a very great reputation in the industry,” said a senior TV journalist. Another reporter added, “Nobody knew him that well. He was recently noticed when he was seen with Pratyusha in a reality show and now he has become famous because of Pratyusha’s death.”
In an interview with Mid-Day, Rahul had said that he had no role to play in Pratyusha's death. He said that they had been dating since November 2015 and intended to get married, although Pratyusha's fame had caused problems in their relationship.
"I admit we fought a lot," Rahul said. "Fame had gone to her head. She'd always belittle me. However, I am innocent."