Producers Guild calls out Indian media for 'peddling clickbait journalism' in Sushant Singh Rajput death case

The Producers Guild, headed by producer Siddharth Roy Kapur, also asked the media to stop fanning the flames and said “common human decency” is more important than advertising revenues and ratings

Press Trust of India September 04, 2020 20:07:11 IST
Producers Guild calls out Indian media for 'peddling clickbait journalism' in Sushant Singh Rajput death case

Sushant Singh Rajput | Image from AFP

The Producers Guild of India on Friday called out the media for "peddling" what it termed “clickbait journalism” following the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput and trying to paint Bollywood as a “murky den of substance abuse and criminality”.

In a statement issued on social media, the Guild, headed by producer Siddharth Roy Kapur, also asked the media to stop fanning the flames and said, “common human decency” is more important than advertising revenues and ratings.

This is the first time that Bollywood’s powerful producer's body, which has 136 members including biggies like Aditya Chopra, Aamir Khan, Karan Johar, Shah Rukh Khan, and Vishal Bhardwaj, has formally issued a statement on the media coverage of the film industry, the intense trolling that actors are subjected to and the outsider vs insider debate.

In its statement, the Guild defended the industry against criticism that it was a “terrible place for outsiders to aspire to”, a debate that has not just intensified but also polarised Bollywood since 34-year-old Rajput was found dead in his home on 14 June this year.

“This is to let all aspirants to the film industry know that they should not be misled by the clickbait journalism currently being peddled to advance the sensationalised narrative that the film industry is a terrible place to aspire to work in,” the representative body of the Hindi film producers said.

Check out the full statement here

“These are difficult times for our country and the world, so rather than venting our fears and frustrations on each other with vile and vicious trolling... it is more important than ever to come together instead of tearing each other apart,” it said.

The media, it added, must look in the mirror and stop fanning the flames. “There are some things more important than advertising revenues and ratings things like common human decency. Let's show we still have some,” the scathing statement read.

The Guild also criticised the media for trying to paint Bollywood as a “murky den of substance abuse and criminality” even as actor Kangana Ranaut asked top actors to submit to a blood test to prove they were not on drugs.

The last few months, it said, have seen relentless attacks on the reputation of the Indian film industry across all media.

“The tragic death of a promising young star has been used by some as a tool to defame and slander the film industry and its members,” Guild said.

“A picture has been painted of the industry as a terrible place for outsiders to aspire to; a place that treats those who dare to enter it with contempt and derision... This narrative is salacious enough for the media to exploit to great effect in order to boost its ratings, readership, and page views. But it is not the truth,” it added.

Like any other sector, the Guild said, the film industry also had its imperfections and works towards weeding out unsavoury elements or improper practices holding it back “but to paint an entire industry with the same brush is a gross misrepresentation of reality”.

Criticising the relentless trolling that members of the industry from both sides of the debate have faced, the Guild said women have been subjected to rape and death threats.

“This is unacceptable and must stop now.”

Pointing out that the cinema industry is a place that employs hundreds of thousands of people and works as the “soft power for India” while bringing “honour and glory to the nation", the Guild said the industry has generously contributed to national causes in times of need by offering its resources, name, recognition, time and funds.

It said it was not negating the personal experiences of “hardships, struggles and disappointments” of people, but these were no different from the challenges that new entrants face in any field they are not born into, be it politics, law, business, medicine or media.

“However, a concerted effort has been made to single out the film industry as one that specifically inhibits and prohibits new talent from the outside from thriving. This could not be further from the truth,” the statement read, citing the example of many outside talents flourishing across different departments of films.

While admitting that being born in the industry afforded the privilege of “access and a first break”, the film body said success ultimately depends on one’s talent.

“This is a place that ultimately rewards your talent, work ethic, and the ability to connect with an audience regardless of your religion, gender, caste or economic strata,” the statement, which ended with a two-word comment -- “in solidarity”.

The statement found wide echo on social media. Using the hashtag of “InSolidarity”, filmmakers and actors such as Vikramaditya Motwane, Farhan Akhtar, Richa Chadha, Reema Kagti, Riteish Deshmukh, Nikkhil Advani, Rakyesh Omprakash Mehra, and others retweeted the statement.

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