I will stand by my friend Rhea, says Saqib Saleem
The Bollywood actor tells why he feels the need to support the actress, as he readies for the release of his web show
AFEW YEARS BACK, when Bollywood actor Saqib Saleem was working on the movie Dobaara: See Your Evil, he admitted that he shared good chemistry with his Mere Dad Ki Maruti co-actor Rhea Chakraborty and even went on to suggest her name for a role in the film. Today, after Rhea has been arrested in connection with a drugs case related to her late boyfriend Sushant Singh Rajput’s death, a few celebrities have been voicing their support for the actress. Among them are Saqib and his actress sister Huma Qureshi. Though the siblings faced severe backlash for offering their support, Saqib has been brave enough to say that he will stand up for his friend, come what may.
“Rhea is a friend, we’ve known each other for about 10 years and have worked together in Mere Dad Ki Maruti. She’s a very simple girl from Ambala, from an army background; her dad was an army doctor. They’re like any other middle class family.
I am going to stand by her because I believe she has not done anything wrong,” the actor told City Times over a Zoom call on Thursday afternoon.
Saqib and Huma have been subject to abusive hate messages over social media ever since they supported Rhea, and the actor even quit Twitter to keep away from the negativity. He believes that whatever is happening with Rhea is not right.
“I am not telling people to not stand by what they believe in, but that doesn’t mean we should be doing this (to Rhea). Look at the media (behaviour). We’ve all become vultures. We’re in times of Covid-19 and did you see what Rhea and her family were being subjected to? Is that fair? It’s not.”
The media obsession with Sushant’s death, began in June, soon after the actor was found dead in his Mumbai home. While the death was passed off as suicide by the Mumbai Police, some sections of the media did not believe them and carried out their own investigations in an attempt to uncover the truth. But Saqib believes that a few news channels were misleading viewers.
“The only job of these news channels, the so called banana republic channels, is to state facts and not give a narrative. Not to make people believe what they want them to. News channels should only talk about the investigation, let the courts decide on the case. It seems these channels have now become the
Supreme Court and are deciding who’s guilty or innocent.
What if tomorrow all the allegations against Rhea are proved to be wrong?
Will these channels then come out in public and apologise to Rhea and her family? Things have become extremely difficult. Why can’t people just respect and love each other?”
The Race 3 actor who was on a private visit to Dubai is against the vilification of Rhea. According to him no one should be subject to such an ordeal. “I’m totally against the media trial. I have complete faith in the CBI, the NCB, in our courts and the police. I want them to figure out what happened, what went wrong (in the Sushant Singh Rajput case). But not (by media and people) in this manner where a 28-year-old woman is being publicly humiliated. Some of the comments people are passing are very cruel, like ‘she should also die or commit suicide’. Such things make me very uneasy,” Saqib says. “What has happened to people these days, why do we have so much angst? If you can’t respect anyone then please don’t disrespect them. You don’t know who is going through what. No one knows the truth (about Sushant and Rhea). We should believe the CBI and NCB,” he adds.
Like many others, Sushant’s death came as a blow to Saqib and though he does not want to speculate on anything about his death, he feels that Rhea and her family could also be undergoing mental stress due to the treatment being meted out to them.
“I really feel horrible about what happened to Sushant. It breaks my heart. But whatever has transpired, we should wait until the investigations are done and the truth comes out. But until then, what are we doing to the other person (Rhea)? If the (Sushant’s) mental health theory proves to be true - I don’t know and don’t want to comment on that - then what we are doing to Rhea and her family is going to give them a lot of anxiety and depression and we will be responsible for their mental trauma also. If we can’t be sensitive about such things as a society then we don’t deserve any of this.”