The Sushant Singh Rajput I knew

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By Joginder Tuteja

‘This can’t be true’

That’s the instant exclamation that I had when the horrific news of Sushant Singh Rajput’s suicide reached me. It doesn’t matter whether he was 34 or 43; taking one’s own life is never something that can ever have any rationale.

Why would he do that?

That’s the question that many have asked me on social media as well as personally. Frankly, no one can ever know. The reasons are always personal for an individual. Last I hear, he hasn’t left any note. However, even he would have done that, howsoever detailed account it may, can it be truly concrete? There is always so much in a person’s mind, and so little that is told.

The Sushant I knew

I won’t say Sushant was a friend; he wasn’t an acquaintance either. We may have spoken a few times for the promotion of his films, I may have tweeted something about his films and he may have reacted to it; that’s about it. All I know is that whenever we had a chat, formal as it may have been, there was a lot of energy around. Loads of it. That’s the Sushant I knew.

The Sushant I discovered

I don’t watch TV serials (from the pre-OTT days); haven’t done that for a decade and a half now. Hence, it didn’t really matter much to me that the ‘star’ of Pavitra Rishta was debuting with Kai Po Che! I was super impressed with his confident act though. In a realistic set up, he came with a star like quality, that was accentuated further in Shuddh Desi Romance too, a hit.

The disappointment that followed

To have a 300 Crore Club blockbuster to your name can always be super thrilling, but then not so much if you are a very minor part of a bigger set up. I don’t know whether Sushant knew that the Aamir Khan-Raj Kumar Hirani PK may have him paired with Anushka Sharma but it would be difficult to take something noteworthy out of him. I for sure wondered why he did it.

There were bigger disappointments in store

This was meant to be this big collaboration between Yash Raj Films and Shekhar Kapur with a Hollywood set up no less. Paani, a multi crore extravaganza was planned with Sushant Singh Rajput. The film was launched, shelved, brought back in news, thrown into oblivion again, and all that Sushant was left was to answer the dreaded question – ‘When will Paani begin?’. He waited two-three years to give that answer? Unfortunately, he never could as the film was permanently shelved. He was supremely hurt; anyone would be!

More disappointments, more aborted dreams

The films that he did in the interim period were not working either. Yash Raj Films couldn’t make Paani with him but they did bring on Dibakar Banerjee to direct Detective Byomkesh Bakshy. Sushant gave his all to the role but then the narrative was patchy. The film flopped and so did Raabta, another biggie of his which was set on a huge scale and featured him in a double role and that too across centuries no less. Pritam’s music was a chartbuster but that was not enough to pull audiences in. As for his space thriller Chanda Mama Door Ke, it didn’t take off either.

And then he hit it out of the park, and how

You can’t keep a good man down for long, and that was seen with the superhit success of M.S. Dhoni – The Untold Story. Sushant gave his all to the Neeraj Pandey directed film and totally transformed himself into Mahendra Singh Dhoni, both as a character as well as sportsperson. Cynics credited the cricketer himself for the film’s success but it was Sushant show all the way.

He continued to battle it out, and win

Even as he was trying to find a hold on his career, Kedarnath got into legal issues and at one point in time it seemed that the film will not even see the light of the day. Saif Ali Khan, father of debuting leading lady Sara Ali Khan, stepped in and ensured that everything was sorted. The film turned out to be a surprise success and Sushant was back smiling again after the battle.

The roller coaster ride continued though

For every M.S. Dhoni – The Untold Story and Kedarnath, there was a Sonchiriya and Drive in his career though. Former found a patchy release, and that infuriated Sushant so much so that he even took to the social media, indicating that the film had been sabotaged. The film proved to be a disaster. Drive was a bad film in any case and when the makers decided to bring it straight to OTT, it was further doomed. In fact his Dil Bechara too has been stuck for over a year and with the talks of it coming on OTT as well, that must have played in his mind.

The #MeToo controversy that was heartbreaking

If the roller coaster ride at movies wasn’t enough, there was a #MeToo controversy too that hit him. Apparently, his Dil Bechara leading lady Sanjana Sanghi had issues with him. To prove his innocence, Sushant even shared screenshots of his conversations with the newbie actress. The good part was that Sanjana herself issued a public statement terming such accusations as baseless. Later, Sushant wondered if all of that was a part of a conspiracy but then soon taking it all in his stride, he again moved on.

…..and then he signed it off with a smile

Sushant Singh Rajput finished off his innings in style by hitting it out off the part with his last theatrical release. The film in question was Chichhore, a middle of the road slice of life film that ironically had its core issue centered on ‘suicide not being the solution’. In a double part act where he played a college youngster as well as a middle aged father of a teenage son, Sushant gave a performance of his lifetime and celebrated it with a 100 Crore Club super success. Little did anyone know, with this he was also going to be signing it off with a smile!

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