Bollywood execs sue media for crime-filled portrayal of industry

After Bollywood star Sushant Singh Rajput was found dead in his home in June from an apparent suicide, media reports focused on the industry’s darker side.

Indian Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput poses for a picture during the promotion of the upcoming Hindi film "Sonchiraiya", in Mumbai on January 7, 2019. (Photo by Sujit Jaiswal / AFP)
Frenzied media coverage following the death of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput led several industry executives to file a lawsuit against two TV channels [File: Sujit Jaiswal AFP]

Some of Bollywood’s top producers have filed a lawsuit against two television news channels, alleging they have portrayed the film industry in India as a den of drugs and crime following the death of one of its young stars.

Sushant Singh Rajput was found dead in his Mumbai apartment in June in what police initially said appeared to be a case of suicide. His death unleashed frenzied media coverage, with TV channels showing his body, analysing his medical prescriptions and suggesting “black magic” was performed on the actor.

The media also targeted his girlfriend Rhea Chakraborty, who was eventually detained for drugs consumption.

The suit, filed in the Delhi High Court, has more than 30 Bollywood production houses and four industry bodies as plaintiffs and refers to the coverage of Rajput’s death.

“The privacy of the members of Bollywood is being invaded, and their reputations are being irreparably damaged by painting the entire Bollywood as criminals, seeped in drug culture, and making being part of Bollywood as synonymous with criminal acts in the public imagination,” the producers said in a statement.

They named Republic TV and its cofounder, Arnab Goswami, as well as Times Now, in the lawsuit, which was filed in the Delhi High Court.

Representatives for both channels did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters news agency.

A lawyer for the producers could also not be reached by Reuters.

Those who filed the suit include The Producers Guild of India, the Screenwriters Association and production companies belonging to top Bollywood actors Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan and Aamir Khan.

It was unclear when the case would come up for a hearing.

Republic TV and Times Now have covered Rajput’s death and the circumstances around it relentlessly, leading to criticism from journalists and social media users.

“These Defendants are conducting and publishing parallel private ‘investigations’ and effectively acting as ‘courts’ to condemn persons connected with Bollywood as guilty based on what they claim is ‘evidence’ found by them,” the producers’ statement said, referring to the two news channels.

Source: Reuters