Sooraj Pancholi opens up about fake news, vicious online trolling, facing hostility: 'I was removed from projects'
Days after he was acquitted, Sooraj Pancholi talks about the pressure of public judgment over the past 10 years, when he was under trial over Jiah Khan's death.
Sooraj Pancholi was recently acquitted of the charges of abetment to suicide in the Jiah Khan death case. Jiah died in 2013, and Sooraj has been under trial for the past 10 years. He has now said that he felt like everyone was judging him, even when they were perhaps not. (Also read: Sooraj Pancholi opens up in tell-all interview after acquittal)
Jiah Khan was found dead in her apartment in Mumbai in June 2013. Based on a letter that was seized a few days later, Mumbai Police booked Sooraj Pancholi under section 306 (abettment to suicide) and arrested him. Sooraj was in a relationship with Jiah, and her mother Rabia Khan had alleged that her daughter was murdered. She also filed a case against Sooraj, who is the son of actors Aditya Pancholi and Zarina Wahab.
Asked about dealing with the people's attitude towards him all these years, Sooraj told ETimes, “From the moment I stepped out of my house to the time I got back, I felt trapped, breathless, and judged every day. Especially in showbiz, perception is everything. At any event, I was the last person to reach and the first to leave. Even when they were probably not judging me, I felt that way. There was this constant pressure, a feeling that people don’t want to be around me or seen with me and that is the worst feeling ever… the thought of being unwanted.”
He added that he wasn't even a part of the film industry when the accusations first came. He also recalled facing hostility around the release of his debut film Hero, two years later in 2015. “I did sense a bit of hesitation and hostility. I was removed from projects. The films that I was working on were stopped midway. Every time I tried to move on, some fake reports in the media and vicious online trolling held me back.”
Sooraj made his Bollywood debut with the action romantic film Hero alongside debutante Athiya Shetty in 2015. Directed by Nikkhil Advani, and produced by Salman Khan, the film was a remake of Subhash Ghai's 1983 film Hero which featured Jackie Shroff in the lead role. Sooraj's debut film failed to perform at the box office.