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Rhea and Kangna: Gutsy Women or Political Pawns? By Binny Yadav

Will the growing support for Rhea and Kangna from different quarters for different reasons take away attention from Sushant Singh Case?

The message on the ‘T’ shirt of Rhea, “Roses are red, violets are blue, let’s smash patriarchy, me and you” on the day of her arrest by National Crime Bureau in Sushant Singh Rajput case has found acceptance wide and open.

The much-awaited voice of Bollywood missed till now in this case has finally come out and very loud-in support of Rhea Chakrabarty accused of abetment of suicide by late actor Sushant Singh’s family.

Indian film industry, which till now had kept a guarded distance from the entire case is coming in support against the way Rhea has been treated in entire case. The message has been retweeted many times repeatedly since.

On the other hand, actor kangna Ranaut, who till now had been leading a lone campaign against nepotism too has got a much-needed voice in support after her ‘POK’ jibe on Maharashtra government and later her tough stance after the demolition of her home and office on orders of state government.

Arrest of the actor Rhea Chakraborty and the bold posturing of another actor Kangana Ranaut against Maharashtra government has brought in a very interesting twist to the investigation in SSR case and the campaign for #justiceforsushant.

After the demolition of her office kangna came out openly against Uddhav Thackeray, the Chief Minister of Maharashtra saying, “you have demolished my house, your ego shall be broken.….this means something….jai Hind jai Bharat”

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The two gutsy females from the Bollywood are not only taking forward their individual fights, their bold positioning seems to have changed the course of the entire case and turned the tide towards other issues – of individual privacy, physical safety of women in public and above all vulnerability of women to social victimisation is what the world seems to be talking about, in Rhea’s case and nepotism and political upmanship in kangna’s case

Nonstop retweeting of Rhea’s message on her T shirt and the support she is getting from her colleagues in Bollywood, activists and others have made people openly come out and strongly talk and criticise media hounding, physical manhandling of Rhea by media in heavy police presence and her victimisation is what seems to be changing the mood of the nation in #ssrcase.

While Rhea’s case seems to have stirred the social conscience about how the misogyny still prevails in the society and how easy still is to put women in the tight spot with least mercy on them even for their individual rights, liberty to defend themselves and their personal space leave apart their legal and women rights, Kangna is other example of gut and grit.

Coincidently, the arrest of Rhea and notice for demolition of Kangna Ranaut’s office came the same day. The response, reactions and support they have received in their own respective fights seems to have changed the tide in actor Sushant Singh Rajput case. For Rhea, from her colleagues in film industry and for Kangana from the centre.

Two women from Bollywood have single-handedly taken on media which directed the politics in #ssrcase besides triggering an open media war-the first time ever in the history of TV journalism.

Not to be missed the more important issues of trial by media, political witch-hunting in high profile cases-especially in case of women, role of police and agencies which people have started raising on social media platforms. 

Media war

Although gutsy kangana was the first one to jump in and spoke about nepotism and continuously poking in the authorities for probing into the guarded secrets of Bollywood and favouritism after the mysterious death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput, it was Rhea Chakrabarty’s interview to a TV channel which broke out full-fledged media war between two leading TV channels of India.

The curious case of death of actor Sushant made people speak about the prevailing nepotism in Indian film industry till it was suddenly and quite vociferously picked up by a government leaning popular TV channel.

Picking up the cues from the demand of justice for the late actor by many social media fan pages seemed the best thing for the government at the centre when trajectory of Corona infection grew faster than expected.

#justiceforsushant, picked up well by certain media houses became louder and louder creating an all-out cry for CBI enquiry till Supreme Court of India directed one.

Emboldened by the apex court order for CBI enquiry along with a FIR by family of late actor Sushant Singh against Rhea Chakrabarty for abetment of suicide and money laundering certain media houses triggered an all-out media trial and victimisation of Rhea.

The soap opera, that ran on national prime time by news channels almost proved Rhea guilty till she chose to come out and speak up and gave interview to another TV channel and tried clearing the air on her part.

This triggered name calling and war of words on prime-time news by a certain TV channel which till now vehemently stood for #justiceforsushant and had been witch hunting Rhea followed which the other retaliated too and the former shooted the tweet of TRP rating in response

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Political angle

Till Sushant Singh’s death Kangana Ranaut had been waging a lone war against nepotism in film industry. However, her aggression on the issue, it is believed fanned the belief of Sushant Singh’s fans that he was victim of phenomenon of favouritism and nepotism against outsiders and small-town aspiring actors which exits in Bollywood.

Kangana initially got some support from her colleagues but knowingly or unknowingly she became a pawn in the battle of political upmanship between Shive Sena led Maharashtra government and BJP led government at the centre.

That the Sushant Singh Rajput’s death investigation is more a political case now is not a hidden fact. Flaring up of the issue suited the central government when government wanted to divert issues of sliding GDP and escalating Covid trajectory. Coincidently upcoming Bihar election too has got an issue of pride in form of #justiceforsushant.

Exchange of tweets between kangna Ranaut and Shiv Sena leader gave another political opportunity of sorts to central government to take on Shiv Sena led government making it a battle between pride of Maharashtra vs nationalism and right of a woman.

Kangana tagged @PMO in her tweet against Shiv Sena leader and eventually getting rewarded in form of Y+ security by home minister Amit shah. Kangana duly responded by tweeting a thank you note to the home minister.

Maharashtra government took up the matter in assembly besides shooting notice to Kangana for demolition of her office for “illegal construction” and finally demoliting it, responding to the plea of kangana seeking time to respond.

Through the wars between TV channels and exploitation of SSR death investigation for political opportunities support for #justiceforrheachakraborty from ‘B’ town and from certain political masters to Kangana, has added issues like #womenright, victimisation of women and physical manhandling to the entire case along with a perfect case for political upmanship.

The issue in hand are many now. From the drug culture in Bollywood to nepotism to newly added to the list–of women’s right and justice. Investigations apart, with the addition of political twist it would be interesting to watch which way the tide flows and what would be the political outcome or fall out.

Whatever may be the outcome, SSR case definitely has opened up a very pertinent debate about nepotism, drugs in Bollywood and victimisation of women by society as well as media. Thanks to the guts of powerful ladies of Bollywood Rhea and Kangana. So far politics is concerned it always is the game of opportunities.

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