The Times Group on Tuesday, June 8, published a special article on actor Rhea Chakraborty, announcing her as the winner of the ‘Times 50 Most Desirable Women 2020’ list. The list, published in the Times of India, is based on results of an online poll and an internal jury, which features women under 40 across various fields who have “made a mark in the last one year and won hearts.” This poll is in stark contrast to the news reports by the media house over the past year, when Rhea was named as an accused in connection with the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput in June 2020.
Here’s what the poll stands for, as per the Times of India. “A superficial reading of the word ‘desirable' would have you think it is all about physical appeal and glamour. But it's not just about charm, physique or good looks. It is also about how much you think about a person, about the mind space an individual occupies.”
In a press release announcing Rhea as the ‘most desirable’, the Times group wrote: “In the last year, Rhea was one of the most-talked-about people - but not for a reason she would've ever imagined for. She found herself cast in a terrifying role off-screen - one that she never asked for, and one that was forcibly thrust upon her with the sudden death of Sushant Singh Rajput. And overnight, her life changed forever. Before she could even grieve, she was stuck in a circus with no ringmaster, caught in a tussle between multiple players. However, she retained her dignity amidst a barrage of insinuation and abuse. With her strength, resilience and restraint - and refusal to sling back the mud or respond in kind - she rose above it.”
Interestingly, throughout 2020, the English news channel of the Times group, Times Now, alleged Rhea ran a ''drug racket," called for her to be arrested, read out her private WhatsApp chats on live television and held debates on her alleged ‘role’ behind Sushant’s death. In fact, when Rhea was arrested by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) in connection with the drugs case — not the death case — the Times Network’s Group Editor (Politics) Navika Kumar tweeted how she had ‘predicted’ that Rhea would be arrested that day.
#RheaArrestedForDrugs. DrugChats first reported by me on @TimesNow. Even as CBI & ED were investigating. @dir_ed handed the narcotics investigation to @narcoticsbureau. ‘Smelt’ the story first & today reporting arrest of #Rhea. Time for questions on #real journalism.— Navika Kumar (@navikakumar) September 8, 2020
The irony was not lost on many.
Rhea was last year accused by Sushant Singh Rajput’s family for abetment to suicide of the actor. The family had also claimed that she siphoned off funds from the late actor. Rhea was later named in the first NCB chargesheet along with her brother Showik in a drug-related probe into Sushant's death case. She was arrested last year and spent a month in Mumbai's Byculla jail in September last year in a drug-related charge. Rhea has also filed a case against Sushant’s sisters, alleging that the sisters conspired with Tarun Kumar, a doctor, to obtain a false prescription for administering banned medicines to the late actor. The case is still pending.