Raveena Tandon: Yes, there are people in the film industry, who do plan your failure
Even after three weeks since actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death, conspiracy theories, assumptions and debates refuse to die down. Angered by this constant rumour-mongering, blame game and social media toxicity, actor Raveena Tandon urges, “Stop sensationalising it now. You can’t blame anyone, not the film industry. This is just becoming a witch-hunt, a lynch mob, which is wrong. People have to think rationally. It’s doing a great disservice to the poor boy who’s gone.”
The 45-year-old, who had met Rajput twice during his film promotions on a reality show, reveals that she was appalled to see a Whatsapp forward doing the rounds that, “Karan Johar intentionally made a bad film for Sushant, so he could ruin the actor’s career. Why would a producer pay an actor crores of rupees, sign him in his movie and then risk the rest of the crores in making a shitty film? Why would anyone invest so much money, time and mechanism to intentionally sabotage his own film? How absurd are these allegations!”
However, Tandon doesn’t deny the existence of “camps and mean girl gang” in Bollywood, something that she had also tweeted about after Rajput’s demise, when many other actors, too, had called out the toxic star culture and favouritism in the film industry.
“There are politics, I agree. And there are good people and there are bad people. This is what I had written in my tweet also. And there are bad people who do plan your failure; I’ve been through it. They are the ones who would want to see you down and removed from films. It’s literally like classroom politics. They play dirty games,” she says adding that, “But people like this are there in every industry. We’re in a high profile glamorous job and the competition is cut-throat, so it gets highlighted.”
The actor further goes on to gives her own example of being removed from a film overnight at the hands of ‘mean girl gang’ that she referred to.
“I was doing fittings with the film’s designer for an outfit for the evening mahurat party. At 4pm, I get a call that I’ve been dumped from the movie and I’ve to return the signing amount because the hero’s girlfriend didn’t like me,” she reveals, quoting an interview of late actor Shashi Kapoor that helped her deal with that situation.
“He had said main party par gaya hoon, and there I realised the hero is someone else and they didn’t even inform me’. So, what happened with all these false claims of nepotism? Even the greatest filmmaker Raj Kapoor’s family wasn’t spared by politics,” says Raveena, who admits that the reason she remembers Kapoor’s interview so clearly, “Because at that time, I used to get inspiration from these people when these kind of things used to happen to me. ‘Even they’ve faced things like this’ — I used it as an example to console myself.”
Mention how Rajput always feared being thrown out of Bollywood if his films didn’t work, Tandon says that’s a reality that with every actor.
“Even the top most stars or top most producer, director’s brothers or sons have that fear. If that wasn’t the case, all star kids would have been superstars today, but there are many who have been thrown out of Bollywood. So, when Sushant appealed to the public to come and see his films, nobody knew that it was said with so much charged emotion. The boy went much deeper and maybe was always emotionally very fragile,” says Tandon, unable to fathom “what drove such a young, handsome, talented, successful boy to take this drastic step”.
Rajput’s demise also sparked off the insider vs outsider debate and Tandon immediately points how actors like Shah Rukh Khan Ranveer Singh and Amitabh Bachchan, too, never had any godfather or connection in the industry.
“And according to this outsider-insider phraseology, my dad was a filmmaker, so I’m supposed to be an insider, right? But he has retired; he never launched me, never put money in any film. I was discovered at a pizza shop and before that I was they doing ads and nobody gave me ads because I was Ravi Tandon’s daughter. I was called up by a casting scout and later they discovered that I’m my father’s daughter. But, I still get abused on social media with people saying that you are also a result of nepotism,” she rues.
Furthermore, with the spotlight back on the importance of mental health, the actor is of the opinion that there can’t be better help than one’s family members and closest friends.
“There are signs that you can see, of depression, in a person. There are signs you know, can see and read, and when you talk to the psychiatrist, they also say, ‘Okay, these are the signs’. In America and all, it might be a fad to go to a psychiatrist and they talk to you, but in India, our families, best friends are so close that you can reach out to them, to your best friends,” says the actor.
Referring to Rajput who often said he wasn’t a part of any camp, group or power table in Bollywood, Tandon adds, “I could kind of, to certain extent, also identify with Sushant because I myself never had many friends within the industry except for Neelam Kothari, Juhi Chawla, Shilpa Shetty — these are probably the only girls I really got along with, and we are still friends now. But during my rock bottom days, my friends who were always there for me were those from school and college, who’ve been constantly with me and have seen what all I’ve gone through in my life. Also, I believe parents are the biggest and strongest backbone and I’ve always talked to them.”
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