Mumbai/Kolkata: Sushant Singh Rajput on Sunday joined the list of actors taken too soon. The Internet Movie Database (IMDB)’s list of actors who could not turn 40 has 95 entries. Death is never easy to accept and when it happens to a 34-year old one cannot help but wonder what this life is all about. Personally, I have seen deaths from very close quarters and from a very early age. While I accept humbly its inevitability, I cannot but help feel sad at the tragedy that it involves, especially if it turns out to be self-inflicted.
Sushant Singh Rajput’s suicidal death was one such example.
I first saw him in the 2015 film PK where he had a brief role. His pleasing smile was what caught my attention and I will always remember him by his smile. That smile did not leave Sushant’s face whatever character he played.
A could-be engineer, the Patna-born Sushant divided his time between the Delhi College of Engineering campus and Shiamak Davar’s dance classes and acting lessons from the theatre doyen Barry John. In 2005 he said goodbye to the engineering degree, moved to Mumbai and joined Nadira Babbar’s theatre group Ekjute.
His first claim to fame was in the small screen where a successful audition with Ekta Kapoor’s Balaji Telefilms helped him bag a supporting role in the serial, Kis Desh Mein Hai Meraa Dil (2008). Sushant’s character Preet Juneja was killed but his popularity forced the makers to bring him back in the series finale. The show just couldn’t end without him.
Next halt was another Balaji Production, Pavitra Rishta, where he met his co-star Ankita Lokhande. The two dated for a long while, Sushant had event proposed her on national television in the fourth season of the dance show Jhalak Dikhla Jaa, in the presence of judges Madhuri Dikshit, Malaika Arora and Priyanka Chopra. The couple parted in 2016, the same year when he had his biggest solo success in the biopic MS Dhoni: The Untold Story. He signed several films following the success of Dhoni but none of them took off.
In a career spanning seven years, Sushant acted in just 11 films released to date. His last appearance would be in Dil Bechara, an official remake of The Fault In Our Stars.
In 2018, came Abhishek Chaubey’s Sonchiriya, where Sushant essayed the role of a gun-totting dacoit in the Chambal ravines, led by Man Singh (Manoj Bajpayee), which I believe was his most important film. Looking back at Sonchiriya and other characters that Sushant played, I find a common thread running through them: the dichotomy of making choices.
In Shudh Desi Romance, he had to figure out what he wanted from his life, the women in his life (one of whom he had left midway in a wedding). In his last release, Chhichhore, Sushant played the same character in two different time zones, a balding father telling the story of his early adulthood in an engineering college to his comatose son, who had attempted suicide after failing to clear engineering entrance exams.
In several interviews Sushant had claimed the excitement that acting offered none could take from him. “Everything your happiness, attitude, excitement would depend on your personalized definitions of these terms. For me, I’ve very clearly defined it. I’ve put it in my mental safe and lost the key.”
“I will make short films or probably act in theatre or my own films. I will be excited. Nothing can take the excitement to act away from me,” Sushant said in another interview.
Sadly, the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown measures did come in the way of his love for acting. And whatever else chased him through night and day till this Sunday afternoon, we shouldn’t speculate.