From Kai Po Che to Chhichhore, the Patna-born actor who has ended life at 34 is known for unique roles that made him the poster boy of small-town success
In September 2019, Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput shared a series of notes on Instagram where he listed the 50 things he wanted to do in life. From wanting to travel through Europe by train to sending kids for NASA workshops to understanding Polynesian astronomy to help women get training in self-defence, it was a long list. But on June 14, 2020, Rajput ended his life, too soon to accomplish all of those, in his apartment in Bandra.
To his claim, he may not have the kind of industry hits other young actors like Varun Dhawan, Ayushmann Khurrana, Vicky Kaushal or Shahid Kapoor enjoyed. But the passionate actor did some memorable roles that were critically acclaimed during his career spanning seven years.
Movies that made a difference
An engineering drop-out, Rajput appeared in Television before making his debut in Kai Po Che in 2013, based on Chetan Bhagat’s popular novel The 3 Mistakes of My Life. The 34-year-old actor appeared in 11 films, some of which did well in the box office. However, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that his talent was not utilised well enough by Bollywood.
Rajput’s movies weren’t the usual cheesy masala potboilers that Bollywood generally offers. Fans didn’t throng the theatres for his movies like they do for a Dhawan or Kapoor movie. Nevertheless, Rajput did not deviate his focus from doing what he found as interesting films. He admitted that failure did make him sad, but he would shrug it off over a weekend and be back on Monday to work.
In fact, the year 2019 presented him with two of the best projects in his career, the critically acclaimed Sonchiria and the blockbuster Chhichhore, although his claim to fame remained his performance in MS Dhoni: The Untold Story, the biopic of former Indian cricket team captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, released in 2016.
It wasn’t an easy feat for Rajput to make it to Bollywood. Coming from a non-Bollywood family he didn’t have any godfathers. Naturally, it took him a while and a good amount of effort to land decent roles, but his family stood strong behind him. Hailing from Patna, he secured admission at Delhi College of Engineering, but dropped out later.
During college days he took to dancing and developed an interest for theatre which later helped him sail through his struggling days. His venturing into television soon made him a familiar face. As admitted in an interview, he found it quite ‘new’ when people started recognising him on the streets. His TV serial Pavithra Rishta, aired on Zee TV in 2009, was a hit.
In 2013 he made his silver screen debut through Kai Po Che which bolstered his presence among the emerging wave of actors. In the 2014 hit PK, he did a short, but impressive performance as a young Pakistani man who falls in love with an Indian lady. His role as a dacoit in Sonchiria, arguably the best in his career, received critical acclaim, while in Chhichhore, he played a middle-aged divorcee who reminisces his college days.
In movies such as Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! in which he did some amazing stunts, Rajput put his knowledge in dance and martial arts to the best use. But many of his choices — take for instance Raabta, which dealt with a ‘reincarnation’ plot — didn’t do well in the box-office and Rajput constantly carried the feeling that his career trajectory was not upward.
More than an actor
However, Rajput wouldn’t be remembered as just an actor. Two years ago in 2018, when devastating floods hit Kerala, he contributed Rs 1 crore to the state on behalf of a fan who had written to him saying he wished he had money to contribute. In August 2018, Rajput wrote on Twitter, “As promised my friend, @subhamranjan66, what you wanted to do has been done. You made me do this, so be extremely proud of yourself. You delivered exactly when it was needed. Lots and lots of love. FLY. Cheers. #MyKerala #KeralaReliefFunds.”
A month later he contributed Rs 1.25 crore to Nagaland that was, again, struck by floods. The same year he also collaborated with Niti Aayog to promote its initiatives ‘Women Entrepreneurship Platform’ and Bhim app.’ A self-confessed fan of Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan, Rajput had many a time reiterated that it was the superstar’s performances that inspired him to aim for the silver screen. After his demise condolences poured in from Bollywood celebrities including Shah Rukh Khan.
Reportedly, Rajput had been under medication for depression. A few of his recent social media posts came across as quite emotional where he wrote poems about his mother Usha Singh who passed away in 2002 when he was 16. Ironically, in his last movie Chhichhore, Rajput’s character helped his son overcome suicidal thoughts. “Sache dost wohi hote hai … joh achhe waqt mein aapki bajate hai … aur jab mushkil waqt aata hai toh wohi chhichhore aapke darwaze par khade nazar aate hai (True friends are those who pull your legs when your time is great and when the tough time comes, the same vagrant fellows would be seen standing at your door)”, he was seen saying.
But against what he said in his final blockbuster, when his tough time came, Rajput took the walk alone. RIP Sushant Singh Rajput (1986-2020).