Rape and death threats are unacceptable and must stop now: Producers Guild of India issues letter of solidarity
The Guild has responded to the ‘gross misrepresentation’ of the Indian film industry following the death of Sushant Singh Rajput
The Producers Guild of India (GUILD) has issued an open letter on the allegations surrounding Sushant Singh Rajput’s death. Sushant died by suicide at his Mumbai home on June 14. He was 34. Since then, several members of the Indian film industry, including top producers, directors and actors, have been accused of abetting his suicide. The industry at large has been blamed for fostering hostility against outsiders and favouring nepotism and powerplay.
Addressing the allegations, the Guild said that the death of a promising young star has been used by some to ‘defame and slander’ the film industry and its members.
“A picture has been painted of the industry as 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. This narrative is salacious enough for the media to exploit to great effect in order to boost its ratings, readership and page views. But it is not the truth.”
The Guild admitted that the Indian film industry has its imperfections. However, to generalise its flaws is a ‘gross misrepresentation of reality’. The Guild contended that the film industry generates employment for thousands, promotes travel and tourism, and is responsible for establishing India’s soft power around the world. The industry also contributes to matters of national need, the Guild said.
While not negating the personal experiences and hardships of any individual, the Guild reasoned that such difficulties are faced by aspirants in all industries, 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, the Guild said, is untrue, pointing to the numerous artists and technicians who have broken in with no connections and defined the course of Indian cinema.
“Being born into the industry most definitely affords you the privilege of access and a first break, after that it is up to each individual’s talent, hard work and drive to propel them forward,” the Guild claimed.
It further urged young aspirants not to be misled by the ‘clickbait journalism’ and the ‘sensationalized narrative’ being peddled against the industry. “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.”
Towards the end, the Guild said that in these difficult times, rather than ‘venting our fears and frustrations and on each other with vile and vicious trolling’, it is more important to come together instead of ‘tearing each other apart’. “Members of the industry on both sides of this debate, especially women, have been subjected to rape threats and death threats. This is unacceptable and must stop now,” the Guild wrote.
Finally, it urged the media to ‘look in the mirror and stop fanning the flames’.