Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s demise has not only opened a can of worms, but also brought celebs or commoners who were MIA into the spotlight.
Sushant was found hanging at his Bandra residence on June 14. He was 34.
While the Mumbai Police ruled out any foul play in its preliminary investigation, things altered course when Sushant’s father accused his son’s girlfriend and actress Rhea Chakraborty among others for abetment to suicide and defrauding.
This led to a campaign in favour of SSR demanding a CBI probe.
However, in the process of media trials, statements by lawyers representing both parties, a cold war between two state governments and explosive interviews by celebs and close friends of the actor, we’ve come across some breakout characters in this case.
Note: We've excluded members of Sushant's family such as his sister Shweta Singh Kirti, Priyanka and Mitu, who have equally made headlines for their involvement in the case.
What is a breakout character?
According to fiction, it is a character, usually a part of an ensemble cast, who becomes more prominent, popular, discussed, and/or imitated than was originally intended or expected, sometimes equalling or eclipsing the main character or characters in popularity.
Here are the ones who rose to fame only after Sushant’s death.
Rhea Chakraborty and Family
Rhea garnered sympathy after she campaigned for a CBI probe on the actor’s one-month anniversary, declaring to be his girlfriend.
However, she changed her stance after Sushant’s father KK Singh accused her and the Chakraborty family – Showik, Sandhya, Indrajit of abetting suicide and defrauding Sushant.
Rhea, who has worked in only 7 films (mostly flop) and a couple of television gigs, was in the spotlight due to her association with Sushant.
Pithani first appeared in a petition filed by Rhea to the SC, alleging that Rajput's brother-in-law OP Singh, ADG Haryana Police, 'pressurised' Pithani to raise questions about her.
Pithani was Sushant's roommate who was reportedly with the actor prior to his death. According to Rajput’s sister Mitu, Pithani informed her that Sushant was not opening the door.
Several pictures on Rhea’s Instagram have been credited to Pithani, but the latter maintained that he didn’t know her.
Bollywood filmmaker and producer Sandip Ssingh is known for bankrolling projects like Mary Kom, Aligarh, Sarabjit, Bhoomi and PM Narendra Modi biopic.
Ssingh, who claims to be a close friend of Sushant and his ex-girlfriend Ankita Lokhande has invited social media fury after a video of him giving thumbs-up to the Mumbai Police when the actor’s body was being taken to the funeral from Cooper Hospital went viral.
Now, SSR fans are demanding CBI to probe him as well.
Ishkaran Singh Bhandari
Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy appointed lawyer Ishkaran Singh Bhandari to take up Sushant's matter.
Singh has played a prominent role in many high-profile cases such as National Herald and Sunanda Pushkar murder.
He was also a petitioner in the Nirbhaya case and challenged the juvenile justice Act, 2000.
After the Supreme Court ordered CBI intervention, Ishkaran told IANS, "It is a huge victory for the people of India. Our constitution starts with, 'We the people' and the people united in this case.”
He added, “I said on July 1 that this case must have a CBI investigation, I could see that Mumbai police was completely botching up the case. That has been vindicated now by the Supreme Court's judgment where they have transferred this case to CBI.”
Vikas Singh, Ex-Addl Solicitor General and lawyer of Sushant Singh Rajput's father, was the first one to accuse the Mumbai Police of not registering an FIR in the matter and was instead forcing them to give the names of big production houses to get them involved in the case. He claimed that the matter was heading in a different direction under the Mumbai Police.
Sushant Singh Rajput’s former manager Disha Salian reportedly jumped off her apartment in Malad on June 8. She was declared dead before arrival upon being taken to a hospital. No suicide note was found.
A PIL was filed in the Supreme Court seeking an investigation in Salian’s death claiming it to be interlinked with that of Rajput.
The Mumbai Police re-opened the investigation and also urged anyone with crucial information to come forward.
Sooraj Pancholi was one of the famous names among other members of the film fraternity to appear in the back to back deaths of actor Sushant Singh Rajput and his former manager Disha Salian.
It all began with a viral post on social media alleging Salian was pregnant with Pancholi's baby. The post was then deleted.
Pancholi has denounced the rumours linking him to Salian and Rajput’s deaths.
He has also filed a complaint at the Versova Police Station, alleging harassment by those who carry unverified news linking him to the deaths without any proof.
Television actress and Sushant’s ex-girlfriend Ankita Lokhande, who made her Bollywood debut in Kangana Ranaut’s ‘Manikarnika’ also asserted that Rajput can never commit suicide.
Lokhande who is inactive onscreen was approached by scores of media channels to participate in one-on-one interviews and opine on the case.
Veteran actor Shekhar Suman, whose last film was in 2017, made headlines for extending support to Rajput’s family.
Shekhar, who had earlier called Sushant's suicide a "more than meets the eye", paid a visit to the late actor's family in Patna and conducted a press conference along with Yadav.
Sushant's family said that Shekhar was using the actor's untimely death for political gain, since Shekhar was set to join Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) soon after the press conference.
Bihar DGP Gupteshwar Pandey, the IPS officer from Patna who probed Sushant's case, drew social media ire for his opinion on Rhea Chakraborty's statements on Bihar CM Nitish Kumar.
Pandey told the press the actress did not have the "aukat" (stature) to comment about the honourable CM.
According to reports, in 2014, Pandey was examined by the CBI in a high-profile abduction and murder case, which remains unsolved till date.
Pandey, a 1987 batch IPS officer, had retired in 2009 to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), but was controversially reinstated by the Bihar government less than nine months later as DGP.