NEW DELHI — A rising young movie star meets a tragic end. His family blames his death on his glamorous girlfriend. As she sits in jail, her friends proclaiming her innocence, the police hint at a shadowy network of money laundering and illegal drugs deep within the world of show business.
India has been captivated by the story of Sushant Singh Rajput, a 34-year-old actor whose death has been ruled a suicide by the police in Mumbai. News outlets have focused on every twist in a tale that for many encapsulates Bollywood’s hypocrisy and elitism.
Three federal agencies are investigating whether his girlfriend, the actress Rhea Chakraborty, gave him marijuana and was involved in Bollywood drug dealing and money laundering. The police are interviewing other Bollywood actresses. Ms. Chakraborty’s attorney said the police had found no evidence to support their allegations.
The scandal has puzzled and infuriated social critics. With hard proof lacking, they say, the investigation and coverage appear to be fueled by institutional misogyny, a taboo against discussion of mental health issues and an increasingly partisan news media.