Sushant Singh Rajput's criticism of Befikre has earned him censure, but isn't he entitled to an opinion?

Renil Abraham

Jan,04 2017 13:29:14 IST

Much like the law of omerta that was supposed to reign supreme among members of the mafia at one point of time, there is an unwritten rule that demands diplomacy and tact of all of Bollywood's denizens — well perhaps not the Khan triumvirate or the most important filmmakers, producers and veteran stars. But for everyone else, it does apply.

Sushant Singh Rajput

Sushant Singh Rajput

So actors may often be accused of being 'boring' or 'diplomatic' in their interviews — but the consequences for trotting out anything less than trite, practiced responses can have severe consequences, so they're not to blame.

The most recent case is that of Sushant Singh Rajput, and the 'outrage' over his comments regarding Befikre.

First, the background of the story: Sushant — whose next film after MS Dhoni: The Untold Story is Raabta, opposite Kriti Sanon — was being interviewed by Hindustan Times. The interviewer asked him if it was true that he had been offered Befikre (Sushant had, after all, acted in a film about live-in relationships with Vaani Kapoor earlier — Shudh Desi Romance) before Ranveer Singh was finalised for the part.

Sushant replied in the negative, then added that even if he had been offered Befikre, he would not have taken it up. Here's a quote:

"I know it’s easier to decide after the (box office) results are out, but I have a reason. If the same production house is offering me a niche film like Detective Byomkesh Bakshy (2015), I would do it because Dibakar Banerjee (director) has a different interpretation of the old classic; and I would do a Paani where Shekhar Kapur (film-maker) will be raising a very important and immediate issue…"

The interviewer then asked him to continue: "But what about Befikre?"

Sushant explained:

"If Befikre was representing the new-age youth of India and romance as it was claiming, it would have been great irrespective of the box-office numbers. But unfortunately, it didn’t do that, and hence I would not be interested. I am not suggesting that films should only reflect reality (like Pink, Neerja, or the Dhoni biopic). They could also be totally fanciful yet great films like The Jungle Book (2016), which was also very popular. But it’s extremely important to know and then claim what you have made (sic)."

Sushant is also frank when asked about the "cold war brewing" between him and Ranveer Singh: He says that comparisons are bound to happen as they're both of the same age, and because he (Sushant) opted out of the YRF management while Ranveer did not.

By breaking the cardinal rule of diplomacy, Sushant seemed to have stirred up an hornet's nest, and there has been a slew of comments and stories against the Dhoni actor.

This piece in a leading national daily goes on to dissect his comments at length (including theorising over his rift with Yash Raj Films), before stating:

"For the moment it certainly looks (like) success has gone into Sushant’s head post-Dhoni’s success. Is he growing way too big for his boots? If there is one thing Sushant should have learnt from Dhoni’s life, it’s about staying cool, calm and composed rather than letting your opinions fly loose in the public realm, which could only... attract more detractors than friends. After all, for an outsider to survive in Bollywood, it is imperative to stay in everyone’s good books. Perhaps Sushant’s newfound daring is the result of his entry into Salman Khan’s camp."

Sushant had a highly lauded performance in Dhoni in 2016. The fact of the matter, however, is that you don't have to be a successful or great actor to be able to speak your mind. To suggest that the only way Sushant can survive in the industry is by watching what he says, doesn't seem promising, egalitarian or healthy — for him, or other aspiring actors.

After all, as one 'outsider' proved in 2016 — we're talking about Kangana Ranaut — you can be painfully forthright and still continue to have a following.

Updated Date: Jan 04, 2017 14:17 PM