Death seems so cruel and unnatural when it comes to the young. And everything seems so unnatural about the death of the young actor Sushant Singh Rajput. His short career span comprised of magnificent performances. It makes us think what made the actor take his own life at the age of 34, too young to have died, too many possibilities left behind.
His death brought forward a lot of issues that people weren’t ready to address. Issues that have been staring at our face for a long time- be it India’s deteriorating journalism or the fact that mental health is taken so lightly in this country. He was undermined and shunned for being an outsider to the industry. Art never discriminates, then what gives one the right to decide who gets to perform it.
Why isn’t true art recognized and artists given their due at the right time? When, not so long ago, India lost one of its finest actors, Irrfan Khan, the news of his death took over social media in a matter of minutes and people posted long paragraphs about how great an actor he was or how the film industry hadn’t seen the likes of him and probably never will. It felt so ironic that the actor who remained underrated for the majority of his career became viral on social media upon his death. Why does it take an artist’s death for him to finally achieve recognition or acknowledgement for his work?
Another artist gone before his time. It comes to make us think why do artists die young. It makes us think of all those great minds who were taken before their time. The one that comes to mind at the moment is revolutionary writer Saadat Hasan Manto, who died at the raw age of 42. He was known for writing the hard truths of the society that no one dared to talk about.
In his short lifespan, Manto was tried six times for obscenity. How is, reflecting the society, as it is, obscene? Why does one get sued for using profanity on paper, when people get away with using it, daily on the streets? And more importantly how is curbing the freedom of speech and expression of an artist not considered immoral?
Here is something that needs to be understood. Artists see more than anybody else and they know more than anybody else. And maybe that’s the reason they are such troubled people. They are optimists by nature but believe me there’s very little to be optimist about in this world. There’s very little that artists live by and that is being true to their craft and being at peace with what they are doing.
Commercialization of art has resulted in mediocre and superficial performance- a true artist’s biggest nightmare. Apparently, superficial is what sells. And what happens to art. It lays behind, gathering dust, eventually to be retrieved years later and admired and appreciated when the artist has been long dead and reduced to bones.
So here, were three artists, each true to their craft and gone way before their time. One, spent his career being looked down upon by his peers for being an outsider to the industry. The other, spent most of his career unknown and unregarded. And the third, spent his career fighting for his right to freedom of speech and expression. And all of them, refused to conform to the ways of the superficial. The world expected them to create which was already in plenty. Maybe that’s how you kill an artist, by robbing them of their uniqueness.