Alia Bhatt doesn’t matter–Sushant Singh Rajput does.

Today, not yet half a week after Sushant Singh Rajput committed suicide, the national conversation of India has conveniently shifted from talking about the foils of nepotism and how it has corrupted the Bollywood industry to a pathetic Twitter Trend: “I Stand With Alia Bhatt.” Regardless of how you look at it, there is a concrete reason why Bollywood seems to be on a downward spiral. Genuine, non-nepotistic talent are heading outward at an alarming rate, and the self-propagating, messy, artless actors, actresses, and production companies are the only ones that remain. 

“I Stand With Alia Bhatt” came about when a bunch of her fans ran to her defense over… Over what? Over the fact that she’s benefitted from a corrupt system that devalues genuine artistry and overvalues connections? Over the fact that she’s contributed very little to the actual integrity of the Indian film industry and that she symbolizes the larger, pathetic problems of the industry–nepotism, lack of training, lack of motivation? Over the fact that upon Sushant Singh Rajput she put out a hollow Twitter statement even though when the man was actually alive she never showed any ounce of real human emotion? 

Thankfully, fans never need to articulate a reason for actually defending their idol. Otherwise, Alia Bhatt fans would have nothing to say. They’d have no defense. They’d be forced to contend with the fact that Alia Bhatt, Karan Johar, YRF, and most of the nepotistic, connection-driven institutions in the Indian film industry function the exact opposite to what makes India so great: a meritocracy. The Indian film industry, as it stands, is not a meritocracy. 

India is a fantastic country. India is a country that has been pillaged for so long, robbed of its riches, and forced to develop from the ground up. And despite all odds, the country has developed. It consistently produces the smartest engineers and  doctors because of the institutions that evaluate them–meritocratic institutions. The engineering schools, medical schools, and academic systems in India at large are some of the most difficult in the world. They are based in ability, not connection, and are a huge part of why India has risen so rapidly. Contrast that with Bollywood: a complete, nepotistic mess. That’s why anyone who even dares to pervert this occasion from celebrating a genuine Indian artist into some half-hearted attempt to defend an actress who never needed defending should rethink their actions. Immediately. 

I’m not going to pretend like I was an incredible fan of Sushant Singh Rajput. As a society, we have a tendency to pile on our sentiments over any celebrity upon their death in order to make ourselves feel more important–it shows other people that we matter too. But, Sushant Singh Rajput committed suicide, and no one should ever do that. And although the stories that have come out surrounding his death may simply be allegations, they’re worth looking into, and not dismissing out of some semblance of idolatry. If the Bollywood industry, in all of its corruption, drove Rajput to commit suicide, then it should be investigated, exposed, and stopped. 

Who cares about Alia Bhatt? In this case, no one should.

Written by Shlok Sharma