It’s been over two months since Sushant Singh Rajput’s shocking demise, and there are several controversies and conspiracy theories doing the rounds about what transpired on June 14, when the actor was found dead at his Bandra apartment. Now, an upcoming film, allegedly based on his life, has run into trouble after its posters were released recently. Titled ‘Shashank’, the movie is helmed by filmmakers Sanoj Mishra and Marut Singh, and is said to revolve around the mysterious death of a young star and the nepotism in Bollywood. While Sushant’s lookalike, Sachin Tiwari, was initially roped in to play the male lead, he has now been replaced by Aarya Babbar.

Talking to BT about the project, Aarya said, “After sitting at home all through the lockdown, I feel blessed to get an offer. Also, I found the script interesting and intriguing. I can’t divulge much, but the story is about a small-town guy who comes to Bollywood, breaks through it and becomes a big star. Later, he is boycotted, which pushes him into depression. Shashank is about the soul of every small-town girl and boy, who wants to make it big in the industry, but is sadly pushed around. As someone associated with theatre, I have seen small-town people coming to the city wanting to make it big. People are assuming that the film is about just one person.”

Soon after its poster was released, the film was slammed by many, including Sushant’s sister Shweta Singh Kirti, who took to social media asking for its boycott. Talking about it, Aarya said, “The title of the film is ‘Shashank’ and not ‘Sushant’. Initiate legal action if you have an issue with this film, but you can’t run a social media trial.”

Interestingly, Aarya and Sushant had worked together in theatre. Remembering his association with the late actor, he said, “I knew him before he entered television, when he did theatre with my mother (Nadira Babbar). Even after he became a sought-after actor, whenever my mother’s theatre group held any function or festivals, he was always there, supporting the group and standing by her side like a son.”

Given the fact that Sushant’s death has once again triggered the insider-outsider theory in Bollywood, we asked Aarya, (son of actor Raj Babbar), about his views on nepotism. He shared, “Even if nepotism exists in the industry, if a star kid doesn’t have talent, they won’t survive beyond Friday. Apart from my first film, I have got work only on the basis of auditions. Though I have done well in the Punjabi film industry, I didn’t do much in Hindi cinema. It is and will always be talent-based. The biggest stars in Hindi cinema aren’t star kids, they are self-made. Now, if they want to help their children, who might want to become actors, is that wrong? Are we going to boycott all those who started at some point just because their families were in the same profession?”

He added, “We need to understand that it’s a business, not some sort of social service. If a maker feels that a star kid can pull off a character, he will cast him or her. Also, we cater to the audience’s liking. Today, Taimur Ali Khan is the biggest celebrity in India, because people like to watch him. Kal kisi Sharmaji ke bete ki film aur Shah Rukh Khan ke bete ki films release hoti hai, hum sabko pata hai kisko badi opening milegi. That’s the reality.”

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