In the aftermath of Sushant Singh Rajput’s death, if the guilt or grief of being unable to protect one of their own was not enough for the Hindi film fraternity, patrons and some old guards are now looking to flog the ongoing investigation into the drugs angle, being carried out by the federal agency Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB).
In the Rajya Sabha, Jaya Bachchan was recently heard saying, “I was really embarrassed and ashamed as a Lok Sabha MP spoke against industry.” Her remark was in reference to BJP’s Ravi Kishan, who had remarked earlier in the Lower House that drugs menace is eating into the youth of this country and its consumption and distribution is prevalent in Bollywood also. Incidentally, a parallel drugs probe in Karnataka is underway and some artists associated with Sandalwood have been taken into custody for further questioning.
However, strange was the fact that support poured in for Jaya and some celebrities started siding with her comments, which is unacceptable as the pervasive and addictive nature of the evil of drugs and how it affects the life of those involved directly or indirectly need not be stressed upon any further. Or, may be none standing with Jaya had a first-hand encounter with addiction and its after effects.
While Bollywood tries to protect its sheen by staying actively mum on the drugs issue, we must take a look at how Sushant’s death has come as a watershed moment in the fight against illegal substances in the country, their abuse and proper rehabilitation of those who have fallen prey to this menace. Most importantly, this is also the time to realise that an open declaration of war on drugs is the need of the hour and there is no two ways about it.
Drugs money and its use
Globally, illicit drugs trade finances terror outfits and empowers criminals and traffickers. When associates of such people move actively in and out of societal institutions, anarchy and disintegration of the established system occurs which only perpetuates politico-economic problems for the state machinery and adds to more burden on the health system. Plus crime becomes omnipresent. In such a case, both high-end societies and the lower strata is at loss.
The cost of addiction
Drug addiction costs abuser in ways more than one. Mental and physical health deteriorates and as a result one’s personality, their productivity and relationships suffer. Cost of financing drugs is accompanied by healthcare expenditure, legal fees and other social costs like boycott of the user and their family in public. It provides momentary gratification to the immediate user but prolongs misery and poverty for future generations.
Illegal substance abuse and film industry’s fitness paradox
Those shying away from actively raising a voice against drugs trade or ones who are worried about industry’s image in the light of such allegations have to look not beyond their work environment to realise their hypocritical stance on the issue. On one hand, artists promote fitness and healthy lifestyle and on the other, a parallel group of people is targeting those who want illegal substances wiped out. If drug control policies are being mulled upon and film industry happens to be one of the arenas from where the problem emerges and gains foothold, then activists and health enthusiasts in Bollywood have to take a stand on whose side they are on.
Sushant case is an eye opener
Ever since the drugs probe is being carried out by the NCB in Sushant’s death as one of the possible angles of the young star’s passing, the majority of film industry has gone silent. Instead of helping the probe from the inside by voluntarily coming out, those close to the late star and otherwise have taken to speak out against raising a voice on the issue of substance abuse.
To be in the right moral standing, what they should have been doing instead was to assist in blowing the lid off of contraband providers and black market operators with possible information in this regard. This would have bolstered government’s war on drugs instead of misleading us into believing that film industries are untouched by vices.
The attitude problem
Is film industry a conglomerate of casual drug consumers and silent observers who are in cahoots with each other? One will certainly be led to believe this if Bollywood continues to toe the defensive line on the narrative of drugs. In such a case, the attitude of mainstream celebrities matter. Unfortunately, most have remained silent on the issue like they do on all matters of public importance.
As domino effect, Sushant’s death may see NCB officials pulling out some players from the illicit drugs syndicate that allegedly operates within the industry. But going forward, is Bollywood, which prefers to show the ill effects of drugs in tragic stories, really bothered about this mass social evil?
The question remains unanswered.