While Sushant Singh Rajput death case is taking fresh twists everyday, several new names are being associated with his death on a daily basis. Sooraj Pancholi is one of the people whose name popped up recently in connection with Sushant’s death. In an exclusive conversation with India Today Television’s Sushant Mehta, Sooraj Pancholi talked about senior BJP leader Narayan Rane’s allegations against him, his connection with Disha Salian, nepotism and more.
Excerpts from the conversation:
BJP’s Narayan Rane has put some serious allegations against you. He has said that on June 13, a party was organised at your home which was attended by powerful people. He said that Sooraj Pancholi should be asked who they were. What kind of party was it? What is your connection with Sushant Singh Rajput? Were there any prominent political leaders? Who were there from Bollywood?
You should ask him that who told him these things. I didn’t have any party at home. Nither do I have any connection with Sushant Singh Rajput or his manager (Disha Salian). First thing I want to say is that whatever news or rumours that are coming about me are coming through social media. News channels are putting stuff from Facebook and YouTube videos, which some people have made out of frustration. This is something we all know. I didn’t have any party at my home. There’s a message, which is being circulated on Whatsapp. My friends from Dubai, London and even Hyderabad are sending me saying I had a party at my penthouse. That I invited Sushant, Disha and Aaditya Thackeray. First of all, I don’t have a penthouse. I live on first floor in Versova. The police are aware of me not being included or me not being attached to this case. I don’t know why they are not saying anything. I don’t know why Mumbai Police is shut about this. They should be saying something about this. I don’t care what Narayan Rane is saying. Did Sushant’s family say anything about this? Did Sushant’s father say this? Did Sushant’s sister say this? Did Sushant’s relatives say this about me?
I had nothing to do with Sushant. Mera kya lena dena tha uske sath? I have been facing this humiliation for the past eight years, from my case to now being attached to Sushant ‘s case, kyun? Why? I don’t know why. These people who are talking about me and these big news channels naming me, what proof do they have? They have nothing to lose Mr Narayan Rane has nothing to lose. He has made it. He is at a big level and I am nowhere to compete with him. I cannot compete with the biggies. They have nothing to lose. I have a lot to lose. Aaditya Thackeray has nothing to lose nor Narayan Rane.
A news channel has named me over 30 times in Sushant’s case. On what basis? They are saying they will open my personal case. I don’t think they are aware of my case, for the past 8 years. I have been fighting it legally.
It’s an active case
I have been in court since I was 21 years old. Today, I am 29. Since eight years I have been trying to fight my battle in court legally. I have won two defamation cases against Rabia Khan, but she is sitting in London giving interviews. She has no courage to show up in court and fight the case against me. If she really cared about her daughter, she would fight this case in court. Because I believe in our court. There’s nobody else who can give me justice besides our court and I go to the court every single day. I have not missed one, one date at all. I have gone there at my worst days. I have been facing this for the past eight years. And these big news channels and these big politicians are naming me for what, because I’m an easy scapegoat. That’s it. It is very unfair. I have had sleepless nights because of this. it has been eight years. I am still struggling in this industry. Let me say it clearly, I am still struggling. I am not Shahrukh Khan’s son. Yes, my father is from the industry. He had his time, but now it is my battle by myself. I don’t have this kind of support. People think I do. Yes, Salman sir did launch me. But after that, it was up to me to prove myself in the industry. But these people don’t let me prove it because they have ruined my image. They have humiliated me. They have humiliated my family. They have sabotaged my image for the past eight years, and now they are dragging me into Sushant’s case for no reason.
I have nothing to do with Disha. I have never met Disha Salian in my life. May her soul rest in peace, I have never met her in my life.
So, what Narayan Rane has asked who all were at Sooraj’s party, you are saying there was no party on June 13?
First of all, there was no party at my place. Neither I went to any party. I was at home. He should be asked that who told him this? If you are saying this after reading it on WhatsApp? Police should inquire about this or a person who is writing this out of frustration sitting at his/her home?
What Narayan Rane said at the press conference somewhat resembles to the WhatsApp message you are talking about. He said that Disha Salian was raped and then murdered. The WhatsApp message says that Sooraj Pancholi is behind this. That you and a big politician are involved in this. Aaditya Thackeray’s name is being associated with it. It questions if Rhea had told this to Sushant and he wanted to go public with it.
I will tell you where it started from. A person, who is called Puneet Vashisth, posted this on Facebook. Puneet Vashisth is an actor. He has done a couple of films. I keep seeing him in Juhu because I used to live there earlier. I mean even if you cross Juhu every afternoon or evening, you’ll see him outside, next to the Marriott hotel or whatever, roaming around. So basically, this gentleman has written a big article on his Facebook page. Okay, this entire, the Disha story, Sushant story, where my name was included. Let me clear it out. Please don’t stop it. It was written on Facebook by Puneet Vashisht. Okay. He wrote a very big conspiracy theory of…
When and what did he write?
I think this was maybe one week after Sushant’s death, maybe close to one week. I don’t know the correct date. If you go on his Facebook page, you will see. So he wrote a big conspiracy theory ki mujhe kya laga tha. He had written a film synopsis, jaise film ke synopsis kissi actor ko milte hain. He claims to be a songwriter and a writer himself. So, I’m sure he has that passion in him and I’m sure he has a vivid imagination. So, he has written a nine point synopsis where he has claimed all this in his head how he thought all this happened. Jaha usne socha Sooraj ka relation tha Disha se, Sooraj ne disha ko pregnant kiya. Uske baad Sushant ko pata chala fir ye woh, whatever. It is okay. You will get it. You’ll have it. You have a big team, you can find it, so it all started from there. Wahan se Facebook par share hua. Facebook se share hote hote Twitter par share hua. Twitter par share hote hote, WhatsApp par share hua and Twitter par #SoorajPancholi was trending. That is when I got scared. I was like, what is this? Where is this entire article from Facebook going to? Leading news journalists are carrying this, leading papers, leading news anchors are talking about it all from a Facebook post. You took this on one of the biggest news channels in India. Is that how poor journalism has become right now?
Why did Puneet Vashisth write this about you? Do you have any kind of enmity?
I don’t have any kind of enmity with him. I have never worked with him. Neither did I have any interaction with him. This is the kind of scenario today that if you have a phone or a laptop, if you are on Facebook or Instagram or YouTube, then you are a journalist.
If I write a good message, or a person who works at my home writes a message and sends and someone shares it on a group, it will get viral. It will spread faster than the coronavirus. People need to go to the root of this ki ye news kahan se aaya. Now they’ve picked up Puneet Vashisth ki news. Not news, Puneet Vashisth ka post from his Facebook.
What did he write about you in the Facebook post?
My connection in the Sushant Singh Rajput case is because of the post. He thought that the kind of environment, involving Bollywood mafia, that has been created these days… that Sooraj had an affair with Disha, he made her pregnant. Then Sushant got to know about it. Disha was killed and then Sushant got killed. The thread that is connecting Disha and Sushant is Sooraj.
I didn’t know Disha. I knew Sushant because I met him a couple of times. My relation with him was very normal because we belong to the same industry. Hum kabhi kisi ke ghar par milein ho ya kisi office mein mile ho, humne humesha hi hello kiya hai waha se meri aur Sushant ki thodi dosti hui thi. He invited me to the screening of his film.
Toh Sushant se meri kisi bhi tareeke ki dushmani thi hi nahi. Maine 2017 mein ek reaction diya tha, ek blind article aaya tha mere aur Sushant ke bare mein. Maine uska clarification tab diya tha jab there was nothing between Sushant and me. Main aur Sushant ek dusre ko bhai bulate the, we called each other brothers. I am younger, so he called me little brother. We haven’t worked together and unfortunately, we will never have a chance to work together now. But he respected me and I respected him too, as my senior. That’s it.
You said that you are not talking about it and think that you are safe because there’s no photo of you and Disha Salian. You never called her. That’s why they can’t prove their allegations.
Dekho ye jitney bhi bade log mera naam le rahe hain, I challenge them today to prove it and show that I had any connection to Disha or her family. I don’t have her number, I never had her number. Nor has she ever contacted me nor have I ever contacted her. Nor have I ever met her in any way. Now they have taken my friend Sonakshi Raj’s photo. I have a photo of Sonakshi, who is my friend. They have made that photo into Sooraj and Disha Salian’s photo.
Tasveer toh door ki baat hai, na maine Disha ke bare mein life mein kabhi suna tha.. industry mein kam se kam 5,000-6,000 manager hain, aap agar poori Indian industry dekh lo, south ki bhi yahan ki bhi bahut manager hain.
Meri kabhi Disha se na interaction hui thi, na kabhi mulakat hui thi, na kabhi koi connection bana tha. Na meri Disha se ya unki family se na unke kabhi koi relatives ko main janta tha, main janta hi nahi tha ki Disha Salian hai kaun. May her soul rest in peace, may her family have some peace right now.
I have nothing to do, mera kuch lena dena nahi hai Disha ke sath and if Mr Narayan Rane and big news channels are saying this, let them prove it. If they prove it, I am ready to face the consequences but if I have nothing to do with this, is this fair? Ki ye aap news par chala rahe ho, WhatsApp par chala rahe ho, giving me sleepless nights and anxiety for no reason.
When your name was being dragged into this, did you try to find out about Disha Salian?
When Sushant died, a fews days later, there were news reports that Disha Salian had also died a few days ago. Then I got to know that a girl named Disha Salian existed and something had happened with her. That is the only time I found out, uske baad mera naam juda Disha ke saath because of Puneet Vashisth. Mujhe laga ye Facebook news hai, chodho, meri bhen ne mujhe bheja tha wo post.
My sister sent me this, ki Sooraj these disturbing articles are about you. Don’t worry these are people who don’t matter; but these people did not matter at that point. Today, it has become world news. Toh, how social media has controlled everything, humare news channels posts utha rahein hain. It is very, very, very immature and very childish kind of journalism.
When you found out about Disha Salian you got to know that probably she didn’t even know Sushant properly?
Someone told me that Disha was not Sushant’s official manager. They might have done one or two events together. But let it be, what do I have to do with this? I have no involvement in this.
Your relationship with Sushant Singh Rajput… immediately after when Sushant died you said there were many theories floating.
Immediately nahi 4-5 din baad, jab sabka naam aaya itne bade logo ka naam aaya tab mera naam bhi aaya. I am nothing compared to these people. I am a very small name but mera naam jo aaya only because of the 2017 article in which I had said ki mera aur Sushant ka jhagda kabhi hua hi nahi.
The article said that you and Sushant had a fight at a party. Salman Khan was also angry with him because of this and therefore his career went downhill. Tell us when did you meet Sushant, the first time and what kind of a human being was he?
I met him for the first time in Aaramnagar where I used to go for an acting class. Shayad Sushant bhi wahan acting class ya coaching kar rahe the, wahin hi hello hui. Uske baad Sushant bahut bada star ban gaya. Idhar industry ke log ek dusre se milte rehte hain, gym mein toh nahi mila tha, yaad nahi aa raha kahan mila tha.
Koi dost ke ghar par ya kahan main mila, aur waha par humari dosti hui thi, baat-cheet hui thi wahan par. Sushant took my phone number and invited me to the screening of his film. Sushant and Kriti both invited me to their movie Rabtaa’s screening. I was present there and we were very cordial.
What year was it when you first met Sushant Singh Rajput?
I don’t remember
You said that you fought for eight years for Jiah Khan case. It has also gone to the CBI.
My case went to the CBI four years ago. Mujhse police investigation 2 baar ho chuki hai.. then CBI investigation ho chuki hai har cheez ho chuki hai.
But I have been going to court, 8 saal se main court ja raha hun 21 ki umar se. Ab mai 29 hun.
Main hamesha court ja raha hoon par jo complainant hai Rabia Khan, wo London mein baith ke interviews de rahi hain par court nahi aana chahti. She can’t get justice by giving interviews. She will get justice in the court and if she really cares about the case, she would come to the court.
It is her duty to come to court. I have been going to court for eight years, I have been facing humiliation by the media, outside court, inside court – everywhere. I appear in court and the court tells me next date because Rabia Khan has not appeared in court aur unhone mere trial par stay daal dia hai ya unka lawyer hi nahi aayein hai.
So, what am I going for? I don’t know. She’s sitting on new channels giving interviews. I have won two defamation cases against her. Already won two defamation cases against her because she’s spoken really bad about me and my family. But still she’s going against the law and talking in the media.
I did not ask for CBI. Rabia Khan asked for CBI. Their investigation has been over since a very long time. It is me and not Rabia Khan who has asked for trial. I have put in two petitions in the high court for expeditious trial, uska matlab hai mera trial jaldi chalao. You know, I am in that 1% category in India that have asked for this plea being an accused. I am only counted in 1% of India jahan pe accused bol raha hai ki aap please mera trial jaldi chalao, main 4 saal se ye baat bol raha hoon aur 4 saal se mera trial atka hua hai. Ab tak ki jo hearing hui hai usme Rabia Khan present bhi nahi hai. So what can I do? I feel suffocated.
How long did the CBI take to conduct their probe in your case, in the Jiah Khan case?
I think about two years. Active case hai. We are still on trial. But my trial is not going forward only because of Rabia Khan, who is the complainant.
Innocent until proven guilty, but in your case you have been tagged as a murderer.
I am guilty until proven innocent. My case has been only a media trial, it has been a harassment for me. I am a young boy. This is my last year of my 20s. I am trying to make my living in this industry because this is my dream not because it comes to me as a silver spoon. It was my dream as a child.
I wanted to be an actor and there are, let me say this, there are very few people who want to be associated with me or want to work with me only because of my case. And I feel it is very unfair. Justice delayed is justice not granted.
So, I feel justice has not been granted for me agar mujhe is case mein next year bhi inhone keh dia ki Sooraj Pancholi is not guilty. I will not feel like I got justice because they have wasted eight years of my life.
In the Sushant Singh Rajput case we see a similar pattern, where certain individuals have already been convicted in the people’s court?
I don’t, I don’t want to compare my case with Sushant’s case.
Your name has been linked to the case
I want to ask you one question. kinhone joda hai mera naam?
BJP leader Narayan Rane and an insane media network, they are convinced that you are involved
Let me repeat myself. All these people talking right now are irrelevant for me. Did Sushant’s father say this ? Did Sushant sister say this? Did Sushant’s brother in law say this? Did anyone from his family say this about me? No, because they know it is not true. I have nothing to do with it. Na kabhi koi party thi. Na main kabhi wahan par main gaya. Na main Disha ko jaanta tha. Na mera isse koi lena dena hai. They are only pulling me into this because of my past.
You are an easy target for them?
I am the easiest target. I cannot compete with these big, big people? You think I am powerful enough to compete with the big people. I cannot compete with Mr Narayan Rane. He is too powerful. I am very small compared to these people.
Is it also because they want to link this to Salman Khan, in some way?
I don’t know. I don’t know what they want to do. They have brought up all kinds of theories, all kinds of names. I have no idea what they want to do. But all I want to say is that I am very disturbed right now and I’m very hurt. So is my family because this is very unfair. And it is not only unfair to me. It is also unfair to Disha’s family, because imagine what a mother and a father might be going through. It is very unfair.
Dino Morea’s name came up and Aaditya Thackeray’s name came up in Narayan Rane’s press conference. What sort of relationship do you have with Aaditya and Dino?
Dino is a friend of mine whom I meet at the gym sometimes. It’s been a long time since I’ve met him. Aaditya Thackeray sir, I have no connection with. I’ve never interacted with him.
How do you look at the future?
I’m trying to stay positive right now. You know, as strong and as positive as I can be, I don’t discuss this with my family because I know they are already in, in a lot of stress because of me. Thinking about me all the time. In fact, my mother thinks that I’m going to harm myself. And she has spoken to me a couple of times. Even after Sushant’s death, she spoke to me saying Sooraj whatever it is, if there’s anything in your heart please come and talk to us. Don’t be quiet and I’m not a very talkative person when it comes to my problems. I don’t discuss with my family because I know they’re stressed because of me.
I am trying to make my living in this industry. And I don’t want to give up on that soon. Because this is my dream. It is my passion. It is what I have worked for. People think I have just gotten out of bed and walked on a film set, which is not true. I have worked very hard. Starting as an assistant director in two films. I have done my acting course, I have my acting degree.
I have done everything possible to get my first film. So this is my passion and I’m not going to give up on that easily. And these people who are talking about me should have some sense and should have some kind of humanity. Because ye fair nahi hai. They are destroying my life. I don’t know whether Sushant committed suicide or not. I don’t know.
But these people will definitely drive me to commit suicide. I would like to say that.
No, no, no, please don’t say things like that
But no, it is very easy to say. I get messages from my friends. I get messages from my sister. I get messages from my cousin saying be strong. You know, we are here with you. But these are just things to say. I know what I have been dealing with. I know. There’s only a limit that my mind can take. You know, and I am trying to be positive. I am trying my best to be as strong as possible, par main bhi insaan hun yaar. I can’t deal with it any further. I’m just pointing this out. I just want the news and people on social media to be a little more responsible. And the question should be asked to these people who are writing on social media. These people should have a CBI inquiry on them. Ki apko kaise pata chala ye sab jo aap allege kar rahe ho.
It is a media mafia. I would want to call it a media mafia. Because I feel personally these guys have ganged up on me and I feel very small compared to them and cannot battle them. So I don’t have any other place to go to get justice besides court. Wahan par bhi kuch nahi ho raha hai mera.
Given your personal experience with the CBI probe, now that the CBI probe has been ordered in the Sushant Singh Rajput case, can you attest to the fact that the CBI leaves no stone unturned? They look at every angle possible. So hopefully that is what’s going to happen in the Sushant Singh Rajput case as well; as it happened in Jiah Khan’s case?
See, they call me a murderer. They call me an abuser. They call me all sorts of names, without even one shred of evidence against me. You know how that makes me feel? Sooraj Pancholi is nothing compared to what is happening. This is a big political battle, that is what is happening. Let me say, I’m nothing. I’m a scapegoat. Nothing.
They know I can’t do anything to them. They know I cannot even touch them. So they’re naming me. I cannot even put my finger on them. They know that. And they’re using that against me.
You’re essentially saying that you are caught between the crossfire between Shiv Sena and BJP or let’s say the Maharashtra government vs Centre.
I am not naming anyone but everyone knows what is happening. I’m glad he got CBI. I hope his family is satisfied with that. I hope they get justice.
They’re pushing me in a corner where I’m maybe… think of it one day…
When you got to know that Sushant Singh Rajput had died by suicide, what was your first reaction?
I didn’t believe it at the beginning. I saw a few articles on social media. I didn’t believe it. Until I made a few calls to my journalist friends that I know, being a part of the industry. When it was confirmed, I mean, I was in a state of shock for sure like everybody else. I still feel really bad for what happened and I don’t know whether he committed suicide or what has happened over there. But whatever his family is going through and whatever he went through, I’m just sorry and I wish this never happened.
We’ve lost an actor who was really in the prime of his career, a young man..
I want to take the words from your mouth. He was in the prime of his career. So I don’t know why people are saying that he didn’t have a career left. I wish I had the career he had. I wish I have it one day. Sushant had it all. And I feel really bad because I feel helpless right now because you can’t really do anything, we can’t bring him back.
Gangs, cliques, blind items. Tell me, isn’t it time for the industry to introspect?
Though being part of the industry, people say you have to be thick skinned, aur apko sehna chahiye, aisa log kehte hain. At the end of the day, your subconscious mind tells you that it is wrong and it is not fair. It has hurt me, it has hurt millions of people. A lot of people commit suicide because it really affects them.
I would say that social trolling ke paise bhi lagte hain, ki aap paise fenko agar apko uska naam badnam karna hai, ye mere sath bhi hua hai, aur kafi logon ke sath hota hai.
I would not say that it does not happen, but saying that an outsider does not get chances, I would say no to that because Sushant was an outsider and he did really well.
If you see the number of star kids that have not done well and if you see amount of people who are from outside who have done well, the majority will be the star kids who have not done well. If you are good you will get work if you are not good you will not get work.
It’s not about being a good actor, you also have to be a good producer’s actor. You have to be on set on time. You have to finish your work on time. You have to be well behaved. Acting is not everything. You have to be a professional. There are people who are very good actors but have a very bad attitude. There are people who are not good actors, but decent attitude. That’s why they go longer .
Did you know if Sushant Singh Rajput was specifically being targeted, his image was being tarnished or there were some groups ganging up against him?
To be honest, there was so much happening to me that I couldn’t look at others. So, I am sorry to say I didn’t know about this.
Blind items by certain sections of the media?
Media’s blind item should be banned because they are not blind. They specifically tell you who the person is and they write down about you in the comments. So, Bblind items are hurtful. They have done it to me. They have done it to millions of other actors. It should be stopped.
Powerful people have linked you with Sushant’s death, but Sushant’s father in his complaint has not blamed you. The Bihar Police or the Mumbai Police have not named you in the probe.
Because they know I have nothing to do with this. This is, let me say, bulls**t spoken by people who don’t know the truth.
source by: indiatoday.in