Family members were joined by Bollywood stars for the funeral of actor Sushant Singh Rajput on Monday, whose death at the age of 34 has sent shock waves through the Indian film industry.
Rajput was found dead on Sunday, June 14, in his Mumbai apartment, with police saying he took his own life.
His funeral was held on Monday, June 15, in Mumbai, with Kriti Sanon, Shraddha Kapoor, Vivek Oberoi and producer Ekta Kapoor among those in attendance.
Oberoi later posted an emotional tribute online following the ceremony. "Being at Sushant's cremation today was so heartbreaking. I truly wish I could have shared my personal experience and helped him ease his pain. I've been through my own journey of pain, it can be very dark and lonely," he wrote.
“When I saw his father today, having to light the fire at the cremation, the pain in his eyes was unbearable, when I heard his sister weeping, begging him to come back, I can’t express how deeply tragic it felt.”
He joined fellow Bollywood stars in calling for more to be done around mental health in the industry following Rajput’s death, saying: “I hope our industry that calls itself a family, does some serious introspection, we need to change for the better, we need […] less power play and more grace and large heartedness, less ego trips and more acknowledgement for deserving talents, this family needs to truly become a family ... a place where talent is nurtured and not crushed, a place where an artist feels appreciated and not manipulated. This is a wake up call for all of us.”
He signed off the tribute by saying he would miss the “ever smiling” Sushant Singh Rajput. “I pray god takes away all that pain you felt my brother and gives strength to your family to deal with their loss. I pray you are in a better place now, maybe we didn’t deserve you,” he added.
The young actor's death has sparked emotional discussion on social media about mental health, with stars including Deepika Padukone and Anushka Sharma posting messages about the importance of seeking help.
Padukone, who has previously shared her struggle with depression, tweeted with the hashtag #YouAreNotAlone.
"As a person who has had lived experience with mental illness, I cannot stress enough about the importance of reaching out," tweeted Padukone.
"Talk. Communicate. Express. Seek help. Remember, you are not alone. We are in this together. And most importantly, there is hope."
Sharma, the actress wife of Indian national cricket team captain Virat Kohli, also tweeted condolences.
She too had previously opened up about struggling with anxiety.
"Sushant, you were too young and brilliant to have gone so soon. I'm so sad and upset knowing that we lived in an environment that could not help you through any troubles you may have had."
A star of hits on the big and small screen, Rajput died just days after the shock death of his former manager, Disha Salian.
Born in the eastern state of Bihar, Rajput quit engineering studies to pursue a career in acting and dance.
He got his big break in 2013 with Kai Po Che!, a film about cricket, love and politics that won acclaim at the Berlin Film Festival.
He was lauded for his portrayal of Indian cricket hero Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the 2016 hit MS Dhoni: The Untold Story.
He told AFP about the emotional rollercoaster he experienced while filming the movie, which also showed the heartbreak suffered by the ex-skipper when his former girlfriend died. "It was very difficult because, after we did the preparation, in my head I was him and everything that was happening was actually affecting me," he said at the time.
His most recent films were the comedy-drama Chhichhore, and action movie Drive, both released last year.
He had been working on a string of projects, including a Hindi remake of the Hollywood romance The Fault in Our Stars, titled Dil Bechara (Poor Heart).