Author Chetan Bhagat has called for restraint on the media coverage of the Sushant Singh Rajput death case at a time when the country is facing big challenges, one of them the coronavirus crisis and the row over holding national entrance exams for engineering and medical courses.
"With all respect to Sushant, I loved him; I owe my career to him. Kai Po Che was not getting made. I was not getting a movie started after 3 Idiots because of whatever happened. Sushant saved me, so please, nobody can really say I don't care for him. But we have to care for India also. We cannot spend months and months making that (the case) the prime time issue," the author whose 2004 book Five Point Someone became wildly popular among young people told NDTV. Mr Rajput was one of the lead actors in the 2013 film Kai Po Che.
"We wanted a different (probe) agency, we have got it. We have got the top agency, the top people. Now each and every time people want different clues to this puzzle, I don't think it's going to achieve anything," Mr Bhagat said.
Mr Rajput, 34, was found dead in his Mumbai apartment on June 14. More than a month later, his father KK Singh filed a case in Bihar, accusing his friend Rhea Chakraborty and her family of cheating him financially and mentally harassing him, driving him to suicide.
"Every country has problems with their economy. Every responsible country is trying to get out of it and we need to shift our focus back. It's very entertaining, this case, it has everything in it. Alleged murder, a suicide maybe, movie stars and all conspiracy theories and politics, but no matter how interesting it is, it is not a story. It is real life and you have to get evidence. Either you let the CBI do their job or say you don't need the CBI, you can solve the case yourself on TV tonight. Move on to the economy, the vaccine, how are we going to distribute the vaccine, how do we check phase 3 trials, the exams," Mr Bhagat told NDTV.
Mr Bhagat in a departure from his previous work has just written a thriller, One Arranged Murder.
On the row over holding the Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) and the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) amid the coronavirus crisis, Mr Bhagat said, "I wasn't very clear sided on this one. Because I was from IIT, a lot of students were writing to me asking 'bolo kuch (say something)', and I wasn't really sure. Because on one hand I only said we should not be really too crazy about the lockdown because it will destroy our economy. So I can't say that don't do lockdown, don't do exams. That would be a little inconsistent. But in this particular case, these are tough exams. They cause a lot of anxiety, and adding Covid anxiety to it is a problem," Mr Bhagat told NDTV.
"In many places, public transport is not in order. In many places, people don't have the kind of privilege that you sit in a car, go, take the exam. These exams are not just another exams. People in every corner of the country take these exams and at many places the police have placed restrictions. In the test, if you're distracted even for five minutes and you get three sums wrong, you slip out of the ranks. So somebody is going to point a finger that they were not conducted in an equal and fair environment. That's an issue," Mr Bhagat told NDTV, adding the exams could be deferred by a few months as a coronavirus vaccine is likely to be available by February, if the phase 3 trials are successful.