Opinion Columnists 25 Aug 2020 Aakar Patel | Why ar ...
Aakar Patel is a senior journalist and columnist

Aakar Patel | Why are we so obsessed about a Bollywood actor’s death?

Published Aug 25, 2020, 5:19 pm IST
Updated Aug 25, 2020, 5:19 pm IST
Will the voter determine whether or not to vote for them based on a Bollywood event?
Social activists take part in a silent protest demanding justice for the late Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput, in Patna. PTI Photo
 Social activists take part in a silent protest demanding justice for the late Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput, in Patna. PTI Photo

The Central Bureau of Investigation has deputed five teams to investigate the death of an actor who killed himself. I do not know why the CBI is investigating this case nor do I understand why there is such great public interest in this issue.

I have been told that this is because of some political reason linked to the election in Bihar. If there is, I am not able to understand what it is. Bihar is the one of the oldest political entities in India, going back to the time of Chandragupta Maurya and Chanakya.


Are Biharis so naïve as to vote based on this sort of material? Perhaps they are, and I will be disappointed to know if this is the case. Bihar is one of the poorest parts of the world. The state has been governed by two parties that have been in charge for a decade.

Will the voter determine whether or not to vote for them based on a Bollywood event? If so, it is amazing. Two other reasons have been put forward as possible reasons for the pushing of this story. First, that it is targeted at the son of the Maharashtra chief minister.

Second, that it is aimed in some fashion at the Muslim actors of Bollywood. That seems to me to be more reasonable given our times. This government is hostile to Muslims and will use any lie to attack them, including this one.


But to return to the question of voter interest, it was written last week by my friend Shekhar Gupta that the Prime Minister would return to power in 2024 unless he inflicted damage on himself.

Gupta’s argument so far as I have understood it is that the damage inflicted on the voter is not relevant because the voter doesn’t care about such things as the collapse in the economy, the record unemployment, the occupation of our land by the Chinese and the inability of this government to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.

Gupta did not explain in detail how he had come to this conclusion, but he said that a survey that had a previously good track record showed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was at the peak of his popularity.


Again, I do not know if this is the case, but it would be quite interesting if this were to be so. Our GDP has been declining since January 2018 for nine successive quarters, based on the Modi government’s own data.

Unemployment has been the highest that it has ever been recorded in India, again according to the government’s own data. It is unclear who believes Modi when he says that there has been no Chinese intrusion, I hope it is not the prime minister himself because that would be a sign of delusion.

We are currently engaged with the Chinese in trying to get them to withdraw from our land, and our generals have had over half a dozen meetings with them already.


Presumably, these meetings are being held because what Modi says (or believes) is untrue. There is no reason to negotiate with them if they are not on our property.

On Covid-19, the data is clear. We are number three in the world in terms of the number of cases, we are number one in terms of the number of daily cases and we will likely end up with the most infected people in the world sometime soon.

This is not the record of a government and a prime minister who is popular. In another nation, this would be signal disaster politically. Is it the case that for all or most Indian voters, their political affiliation is unrelated to their actual life?


Could it be that we vote as we do a Facebook like or Twitter forward? Is our political action through voting and support of a party based not on its performance but on its image?

Surely this is not true, and even if it is true for many, it cannot be true for all. Certainly, it is not true for me.

But how many people think normally in this way? If there were many, then we would not have the circus that we do on a Bollywood actor’s death at a time which is the worst that I can remember, and I am not a young man.

I cannot remember a time in my life when we had such economic strife, such levels of unemployment, a national epidemic and the enemy inside our house, and such little interest in these and a focus on Bollywood and temples and such things.


Is this who we really are as citizens, individuals and voters? I should hope not. I do not think that our young generation of this time certainly or the next will be so unconcerned about their politics.

The question is whether the current generations of our time do not care about the nation’s security, their health, their employment and their future and whether they are more interested in Bollywood.

I do not have the answer to this, but it is an answer that we will know for certain fairly soon.