On Wednesday, Sooraj Pancholi, an accused in the Jiah Khan sucide case, gave an interview to Bombay Times.
The interview was timed quite strategically -- it came one day after a British forensic expert submitted a report stating that Jiah's suicide wasn't suicide at all, but a staged hanging.
The independent investigation was conducted by a foreign agency at the behest of Jiah's mother, Rabiya Khan, who was unsatisfied by the manner in which Indian agencies handled the case.
While it remains to be seen if the fresh evidence will be admissible in an Indian court, that piece of news once again put spotlight on Sooraj and his alleged role in Jiah's death.
Sooraj has been charged by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) under Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code for abetting Jiah's suicide. He was arrested in June 2013 but was released on bail after spending 23 days in the Arthur Road jail in Mumbai.
Launched by Salman Khan, who himself has been an accused in a case of hit-and-run, Sooraj is a young actor who comes from a fairly influential Bollywood family. His father Aditya Pancholi may not have earned the tag of the greatest Bollywood actor but wields considerable influence within the fraternity and for reasons unknown, commands goodwill in the industry despite his terrifyingly erratic ways.
And like history has proven, the industry is very protective of their own and Sooraj is a cub from that premium tribe. Whether it is Salman Khan, Sanjay Dutt, or more recently Hrithik Roshan, the film fraternity never condemns their blue-chip members for their misdoings, big or small. But if you were an outsider, make no mistake, they wouldn't blink an eyelid before ostracizing you, like it happened with Shiney Ahuja.
Coming back to the interview, Sooraj feels he has been 'wrongly targeted' and that the media is trying to 'brainwash people by portraying me as a criminal.' He even went on to say: "Whenever something good is happening in my life, personally or professionally, someone tries to put me down. It gets difficult. You cannot accuse someone of a crime, without knowing the facts."
Pancholi perhaps needs to fall back on a precious human gift called common sense to understand that nothing that the 'media' is reporting has been cooked up by them. They are only reporting developments in a case -- pretty much what they are supposed to do.
Those reports are not based on hearsay but rooted in facts as discovered and documented initially by the Mumbai Crime Branch and subsequently by the CBI.
Also, had media houses made up atrocious lies about the case, with no basis in fact, would Pancholi have been happy giving bites, ironically, to a media house itself? No. He would have probably sued them.
Right from the note that was left behind by Jiah (the contents of which were released to the media by Rabiya), to the details of the last few calls/text messages exchanged between the couple to the Mumbai Mirror story about Sooraj extracting the remnants of a foetus from within Jiah, to the raid in his house -- all the reports are factual, taken from official sources such as the CBI's chargesheet.
The last bit, that of extracting the foetus, was a controversial story that was based on a gynecologist's statement that is part of the CBI's chargesheet. So if Sooraj really feels that the media is unnecessarily victimizing him and 'portraying him as a criminal', perhaps he can learn a little about how journalism works.
The problem is that our celebrities are so used to being gushed over in the papers that any deviation from that narrative amounts to 'targeting' as if the media's only job is to bring an actor down.
We wake up and go 'Oh, today is Fridaaaay, let me spew some venom at that actor from that movie because I just feeeel like doooooin it.'
It is the same train of thought where Sooraj is coming from, woefully ignorant of the fact that in his case, these aren't articles that appear in entertainment supplements or the gossip section of a newspaper, but part of the legal beat where anything inaccurate isn't usually reported for the simple fear of serious legal repercussions.
What interest would the media have in maligning one (very forgettable) film old Pancholi? Only if you eliminate logic from the process of finding an answer to that, you can perhaps come to the conclusion that media, or for that matter anyone unrelated to him, has any interest in his career.
Dear Sooraj, the media isn't at your service. It's not here to try you either. Actually, reporting developments in a case that may be unfavourable to you is not remotely a trial. Yes, what publications can do is perhaps keep mum about the allegations against you. In that case, we would like to know, would you also have them stay quiet when you have a new film coming up? No, right?
While there have been instances of the media's overbearing and intrusive actions, if it was you who were the victim here, you wouldn't have had a star-studded gala launch in the (ironically titled) Hero, right when the case was hot in September last year.
The circumstances linking you to the case aren't exactly in your favor and therefore, what appears in the news is going to be a reflection of that.
Till the case goes to trial and you're acquitted in it, or discharged before the case even goes to trial (there is a provision for that as well), you have to accept the fact that you are an integral part of the Jiah Khan suicide/murder investigation. And you'll have to learn to live with it.