Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 29 September 2020

Sushant Singh Rajput: Indian federal investigator to examine death of Bollywood star

The family of the 'Chhichhore' star, who died in June, has asked for an investigation into the factors leading to his death

India's federal investigative agency will probe the death of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput, its top prosecutor said on Wednesday.

The Chhichhore star, 34, was found dead at his residence in Mumbai on June 14 which police termed an "accidental death".

Rajput's death has triggered heated debate on prime time news channels and conspiracy theories on social media.

His family had also asked for a federal investigation into the factors leading to his death, and a tug-of-war between two state governments over the matter has muddied the waters more.

On Wednesday, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the Indian Supreme court that the federal government had approved a request from the government of Bihar, Rajput's home state, to turn the inquiry over to the federal investigation agency (CBI).

The state government of Maharashtra, of which Mumbai is the capital, had refused to transfer the case to the CBI from local police, saying it did not warrant a federal inquiry.

Bihar, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party shares power with an ally, is set to go to polls later this year, while Maharashtra, India's richest state, is ruled by a coalition of three opposition parties.

Rajput, a TV actor who came from a middle-class family, was a rare outsider who found success in Bollywood, an industry known for being insular and long dominated by several families.

A star of both TV and film, Rajput’s first breakout role was as Preet Juneja in drama series Kis Desh Mein Hai Meraa Dil, from 2008 to 2010. From there, he went on to star in movies such as Kai Po Che! and Shuddh Desi Romance in 2013, and the following year, he appeared in comedy drama PK with Aamir Khan, Sanjay Dutt and Anushka Sharma.

In the days after his death, several industry insiders, including actress Kangana Ranaut, accused Bollywood of pushing Rajput to the emotional brink by denying him acting opportunities.

One of his most renowned film roles was his work in biopic M S Dhoni: The Untold Story. At the time of the film’s release, Rajput told The National that the time he spent with Dhoni in preparation for the role taught him to “live in the moment and have faith in my beliefs”.

He said the film, about the rise of the cricketer, made him realise “that nothing is impossible”.

Updated: August 6, 2020 09:55 AM

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