June 14th marks the second death anniversary of actor Sushant Singh Rajputwho died at the age of 34 in 2020. He was found hanging in the bedroom of his Mumbai apartment, and his death was initially ruled a suicide.
But a political turf war and public pressure led to a CBI probe being launched into the case, which remains under investigation. The media coverage of Sushant’s death, which occurred during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, has often been cited as an example of how poorly news reporting can be conducted in the country. When interest was at its peak, nightly debates would be conducted on primetime news. Several angles were introduced, including a drug-related investigation that led to the arrest of Sushant’s girlfriend Rhea Chakraborty and her brother, Showik. Rhea was also investigated for misappropriation of funds, after being involved in legal proceedings against Sushant’s family.
But the discussion that Sushant’s death didn’t properly start was the one about mental health. The actor was reportedly seeking treatment for bipolar disorder, and was on medication on and off. Two years on, here’s a look at the major players in the case, and what they’re doing now.
The actor spent nearly a month in jail, before being granted bail. After initially finding herself at the center of a media circus, she slowly started re-emerging in public. She’d be sighted by the paparazzi, and would attend industry functions. There was, however, some controversy surrounding her absence from early promotional material of her latest film, Chehre. She attended Farhan Akhtar and Shibani Dandekar’s wedding earlier this year. More recently, it was reported that she had decided not to travel to Abu Dhabi to attend the IIFA awards, after being granted permission from the court to do so.
Rhea’s brother was also arrested by the CBI, and was granted bail some time after her. His Instagram DP remains a photo of him and Sushant together, and his last Sushant-related post came on the first anniversary of the actor’s death. His Instagram profile has since been updated with travel pictures, and family pictures.
A part of Sushant’s inner circle, Siddharth Pithani was the one who discovered Sushant’s body. He appeared on several TV news debates in the immediate aftermath of the incident, and was arrested by the NCB in the drug-related angle to the case. As of May 2022, he hasn’t been granted bail. “We requested bail in January but the hearing has yet to take place in court,” his lawyer Taraq Sayyed told ETimes last month. He was, however, granted permission to attend his wedding in 2021, and surrendered himself a fortnight later.
A lawyer who was personally brought on board by Sushant to join his ‘pro team’, Samuel Haokip was living with the actor at the time of his death. Like Siddharth Pithani, he, too, appeared on television interviews in the aftermath of the incident, and would narrate stories about Rhea and Sushant on national TV. And also like Siddharth, he got married last year.
Shweta Singh Kirti
Perhaps the most vocal of Sushant’s three sisters on social media, the US-based Shweta Singh Kirti would post daily updates about Sushant on Instagram and Twitter. It was she who fueled the ‘Justice for Sushant Singh Rajput’ social media trend mere weeks after his death. But by the looks of it, the last Sushant-related post on her Instagram profile was shared on his birth anniversary in January, earlier this year.
Shweta’s husband, Vishal Kirti, would share detailed blog posts about the late actor in the weeks after his death. These posts would typically include personal photographs and other anecdotes about the actor. In his posts, he slammed Rhea’s comments against Sushant’s family, and questioned the ethics and findings of the therapist who’d claimed that Sushant was bipolar. But now, his social media profiles are dominated by work-related posts. His last blog post on Sushant was written one day before his first death anniversary in 2021. By the looks of it, all posts concerning Sushant are password protected, while his writings on other topics, such as the Afghanistan war and psychology, are free to access.
Rhea had filed an FIR against Priyanka for abetting Sushant’s suicide, by procuring medication for him with a ‘fake prescription’. Both Priyanka and Sushant’s other sister, Meetu, were named in the FIR. But while the Bombay High Court quashed the case against Meetu after the two sister filed a motion to dismiss it last year, it was found that there was prima facie evidence against Priyanka. Earlier this year, she said in a social media post that no biopic should be made on her brother until he gets ‘justice’. She regularly tweets about Sushant, and recently attended a prayer ceremony for him with Meetu.
Last Evening, Ganga Aarti offered on d ghat of Benaras for #JusticeForSushantSinghRajput
Let’s all of us come together and Roar till we get justice for SSR@divinemitz @mamta_kale @NightPalm3 @_PreetiPandey @Prashaant_KR
Maha Abhiyan 4 Sushant pic.twitter.com/kWt0q2Wb56
— Priyanka Singh (@withoutthemind) April 13, 2022
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Like Priyanka, Meetu also called for ‘justice’ for her late brother in her latest social media post, shared on his birth anniversary earlier this year. “My jaan I wish you all happiness, peace wherever you are in divinely abode. You lived like a king. Proud of you my pride. It’s just ki tum chale gaye and all my strength is gone with you. God bless you,” she wrote, adding screenshots of her tweets thanking Sushant’s fans. In one of those tweets, she’d written that her physical and mental health had ‘deteriorated greatly’, and that she is ‘irked’ that people seem to have moved on. She said that she would never stop fighting for her brother. In April, both Priyanka and Meetu came together for a prayer ceremony for Sushant.