My acting comes at a price, not my principles’

Hours after he was let go as host of a TV show, ostensibly for attending an anti-CAA protest, Sushant Singh says he is prepared to pay any price for doing the right thing

| Arnab Ganguly

Actor Sushant Singh tweeted on Tuesday that his contract with the TV show Savdhaan India was terminated hours after he attended a protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and subsequent police excesses against students in Delhi and elsewhere. He said it was unclear whether he was let go because of his participation in the protests or because of ‘budgetary constraints’.

Singh, who has hosted the show since 2011, took a break from it early this year and resumed in October. He said his contract for the show was to run until January 15.

“If there were budget constraints they could have requested me to reduce my fees. My contract with the channel was till January 15. They could have given a month’s notice. Instead they told me about the termination abruptly a month before my contract was to end,” said Singh, who is also honorary secretary of the Cine and Television Artists Association (CINTAA).

“And, my stint with Savdhaan India has ended,” Singh tweeted had around 2.55am on Tuesday. Responding to a question from a follower, whether he had paid a price for speaking the truth, Singh replied: “A very small price, my friend. Otherwise what answer do I give to Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru?” Later on Tuesday evening, Singh told Mirror he was prepared to pay any price for doing the right thing. “Whatever is happening is upsetting and I did the right thing,” he said.

The actor was among the protesters at Mumbai University on Monday who expressed their anger at the happenings at Jamia Millia Islamia University and Aligarh Muslim University, which has sparked protests at campuses across the country. He told Mirror he received a WhatsApp message from the channel late on Monday night, informing him that his contract would be terminated. “The message said that December 20 would be my last day of shooting with the channel. I asked, but no specific reason was given, just a mention of budgetary constraints that had never been mentioned earlier,” said Singh. “I don’t want to speculate but it is a huge coincidence that my contract was ended the day I attended the protest.”

Singh is one of the few film and television personalities to have questioned the police action at the two universities, where students have been at the forefront of a movement against the amended Citizenship Act.

The actor, who made his debut with Ram Gopal Varma’s Satya, said he did not regret taking anti-establishment stands on critical national issues. He also said that he had never before in his 20-year career faced such a situation but was mentally prepared.

“I am prepared and my wife is prepared (for any situation). Should I think about a better today or a better tomorrow? The tomorrow is for my children. When they grow up and ask me what I was doing when students were facing atrocities, I can answer them,” he said.

Singh would not comment on silence of by many of his industry colleagues.

“There are many who feel what is happening is wrong and have spoken out. Others don’t feel so and are silent. My acting prowess comes at a price, not my principles,” he said.

Director Punit Gandhi, who worked with Singh on some episodes of the show, said he was yet to speak with the actor on the matter. “I don’t know what has actually happened. I have not seen any other actor take a stand like Sushant,” Gandhi said. Emails, telephones and messages sent to the channel Star Bharat about the actor’s exit went unanswered.

Singh at an anti-CAA protest in Mumbai on Monday