Sushant Singh Rajput’s death in Mumbai in June has led to months of speculation by some news channels in India.
Dozens of top Bollywood producers are taking legal action against two TV news channels, accusing them of painting the industry as full of “criminals” and “seeped in drug culture” following the death of a popular star.
Sushant Singh Rajput was found dead at his apartment in Mumbai in June, with police initially saying they believed he had taken his own life.
The case is still being investigated. However, his death has sparked months of speculation in the media in India.
Some TV channels showed his body, analysed his medical prescriptions, and suggested “black magic” was performed on the actor, while reports have also contained accusations that many Bollywood celebrities are part of a drug cartel that drove the actor to take his life.
The 34-year-old’s actress girlfriend, Rhea Chakraborty, was bailed earlier in October after being detained on drugs charges following his death.
Now, more than 30 Bollywood production houses and four industry bodies have filed a lawsuit at the Delhi High Court, focusing on the media coverage.
The plaintiffs include The Producers Guild of India and the Screenwriters Association, as well as the production companies of high profile Bollywood actors Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar and Aamir Khan.
“The privacy of the members of Bollywood is being invaded, and their reputations are being irreparably damaged by painting the entire Bollywood as criminals, seeped in drug culture, and making being part of Bollywood as synonymous with criminal acts in the public imagination,” the producers said in a statement.
They have named Republic TV and its founder Arnab Goswami, as well as Times Now, in the lawsuit.
“These defendants are conducting and publishing parallel private ‘investigations’ and effectively acting as ‘courts’ to condemn persons connected with Bollywood as guilty based on what they claim is ‘evidence’ found by them,” the producers’ statement said.
The plaintiffs said they sought “redress against the irresponsible, derogatory and defamatory reporting” by the two channels and their leading anchors.
Representatives of both channels did not immediately respond to a request from news agencies for comment.
However, Navika Kumar, a senior editor at Times Now, tweeted on Monday: “If fighting for justice invites court cases, bring it on.”
No details have been released about a date for a potential hearing.
Chakraborty has denied charges all charges made against her. A date is also to be confirmed for her trial.
Rajput’s death came just days after that of his former manager, Disha Salian, who died after falling from a high-rise building.