The Mumbai film industry, facing massive scrutiny and allegations after Sushant Singh Rajput's death, has hit out at what it calls "relentless attacks on the reputation" of the industry. In a sharp letter that tackles allegations of nepotism, bullying and drugs, Bollywood filmmakers allege "vile and vicious trolling" besides rape and death threats and urge newcomers not to be discouraged by the criticism of the film industry.
There are some things more important than ad revenues and ratings, says the open letter in a caustic message to the media.
"The tragic death of a promising young star has been used by some as a tool to defame and slander the film industry and its members," the Producers Guild of India has said in an open letter.
"A picture has been painted of the industry being a terrible place for outsiders to aspire to; a place that treats those who dare to enter it with contempt and derision; a murky den of substance abuse and criminality."
The letter said while the film industry did have its imperfections, "to paint an entire industry with the same brush is a gross misrepresentation of reality".
Sushant Singh Rajput, a 34-year-old star who successfully transitioned from TV to movies, died on June 14, leaving his legions of fans in shock and the film fraternity battling allegations of bullying of newcomers, nepotism and toxic rivalries.
Recently, since multiple investigations into the circumstances of the actor's death threw up a drugs-related twist, the film industry has faced even more speculation and rumours around stars.
"We do not negate the personal experiences of anyone from the industry, and undoubtedly many of those entering the business and seeking to establish themselves have faced numerous hardships, struggles and disappointments in the course of building a career here," said the group of filmmakers, adding that this was no different from challenges faced by a new entrant in "any field they are not born into," be it politics, law, business, medicine or the media.
"However, a concerted effort has been made to single out the film industry as one that specifically inhibits and prohibits new talent from the outside from thriving. This cannot be further from the truth," said the letter.
"Being born into the industry most definitely affords you the privilege of access and a first break, but after that it is up to each individual's talent, hard work and drive to propel them forward," said the guild.
"This is to let all aspirants to the film industry know that they should not be misled by the clickbait journalism currently being peddle to advance the sensationalized narrative that the film industry is a terrible place to aspire to work in. This is a place that ultimately rewards your talent, work ethic and ability to connect with an audience – regardless of your religion, gender, caste or economic strata."