A face that would light up screens, a soul that would make everyone else around happy and an attitude that most people would envy him for, Sushant Singh Rajput was different.
by Nayandeep Rakshit | Updated on Jun 26, 2020 04:23 PM IST | 4.4M
Farewell Sushant Singh Rajput: The man who had no pangs of stardom & loved with all his heart
Sushant Singh Rajput - a name that resonated with most of us who dared to dream and lived to make all those dreams come true. A face that would light up screens, a soul that would make everyone else around happy and an attitude that most people would envy him for, Sushant was different. Different from the regular breed of actors who have come and gone, ones who are fighting for the top spot and losing it when they fail. My relationship with him was way beyond work; it wasn't the usual actor-journalist rapport at all. He would confide in me his secrets, knowing that it's safe and I would share too.
Sushant was someone who I know was genuinely happy for me. Always. When I did a good story, I'd get a call; when I felt down, he would motivate me to do better and get back. "Never forget that your brother is there for you. If nothing works out, you and I will work together," he would often say, laughing and teasing me about being too lazy to write a story for him, something he could develop into a project later.
I remember my first meeting with him. It was March-end, 2015. I was at YRF waiting for the group interviews for Byomkesh Bakshy. He comes, introduces and the moment I told him, 'Hi, I'm Nayandeep from DNA After Hrs (the publication I used to work for earlier)', he responded, "I loved your interview with Shah Rukh Khan yesterday," referring to an interview of the superstar freshly published in the newspaper. He loved SRK, I love him too and that became our major point of bonding. Being a Bengali, I understood the emotion behind a film like Detective Byomkesh Bakshy, again something that many journalists wouldn't know because I grew up on Feluda and Byomkesh all my life. We exchanged numbers and I remember calling him after the screening and praising him for his performance and he immediately said, "Where are you? Come over to my place. Let's do dinner." As a rookie journalist, still trying to make his mark in the industry, I did feel very welcomed. That night, we spoke about our love for cinema, food and of course SRK. He discussed how many won't get the emotion and intention behind the film and why he wasn't looking for it to catapult him to success. He was just happy with what they had produced and it showed. In fact, if I remember clearly, he had a wall with the posters of all his films, including Byomkesh. But there was one missing.
I asked him why he wouldn't have that on his list, given how incredible it had turned out to be. He just said, "I won't like to be remembered for that one." I was surprised at how this young boy was unaffected by the pangs of stardom. He didn't let success or failure define him ever. That's one quality I hope I imbibe from him, all my life.
That wasn't the end. Then came MS Dhoni. I remember meeting him for a special story I was doing on his complete prep for the character. Before the world saw it, he showed me rushes of the film, the trailer and the complete set of his practise videos - where he went right, places where he was wrong and how he suffered an injury, etc. Right after the 15 minute conversation in his vanity, he tells me to head home with him, because he had wrapped his four hour shoot in an hour. On the way, we spoke and spoke about life and nothing about our careers. Then, the usual ritual of dinner and conversation followed and I headed home. But this time, I knew I had found a friend - who I could share with. And I did. At the time, my dad was undergoing a bypass and I was terribly tensed. He immediately offered to help. He insisted but I somehow made him understand that financially, my family had sorted it out. When he realised that the problem was completely internal, he talked to me for an hour and helped me calm down. I never felt so vulnerable in front of an actor, but by then, I had bared my soul to him.
Over the years, he has looked at me as a brother. When he shifted alone to his sea facing Bandra apartment, we met again and he called it our 'brother's date'. He promised me to cook Maggi or just eggs because he didn't know how to cook anything else back then. I agreed. That night, Sushant opened up about his mother's death and how it changed him forever. He never wanted to or could share it in the media before that; he bared his soul and broke down. Both of us were in tears while he cried like a baby and let out years of pain and angst that was bottled within. He showed me a room he had personally invested in and built - a room that was designed to give you a piece of the moon. He was researching about NASA and the moon for one of his films and installed a virtual reality system that would give you a feel of walking on the moon. He was incredibly excited because he had just bought a telescope and was waiting for it to be delivered. When it reached him, he called me to come over and see the stars with him. We did, yet another time over a cup of Maggi noodles.
But soon after, I don't know why, but he decided to distance himself from everyone around. The Sushant I had known had withdrawn into a shell. He had switched numbers, leased his dream bungalow near Pavna Lake and immersed himself in several things - science, astronomy, chess being his top favourites, with the guitar right after. He wanted solace and somehow Orion gave him that. He always wanted to perform to perfection on celluloid and worked really hard towards it. I hadn't seen someone as driven as him towards his craft. But he never chased stardom and wanted to stay away from it. He was a public figure who didn't want to be completely public about his feelings.
In the last few years, our conversations reduced and so did our meetings. We would only catch up for movie promotions and each time we would meet, he would be sorry to not have been in touch and 'promised to make it up' soon. Today, when I heard the devastating news of his untimely demise, I was shattered. I don't think I would ever be able to come to terms with this loss. It's way more personal than anyone can ever think it to be. I didn't know how to process the news but when I went back to check our last few messages, I was broken. We kept making plans to meet in the last few months, post Chhichore, but somehow it didn't happen. One of his last few messages reads: "I would like to meet you to have good conversations, great many things to do in Pavana, boating, sports, virtual reality. We might just do that and then if energy is left, we would also talk about films then."I regret not making this plan happen, I regret not being there around him, I regret not understanding that he was in pain. I feel I failed you too, Sushant, just like most of your friends. But I wish I could say what you always said to me - "I promise I'll make it up to you."
You left with a big piece of my heart today. Farewell, Sushant!
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