Hindi film actor Sushant Singh Rajput died by suicide Sunday, for reasons unknown. Mumbai police officers confirmed he was found dead at his Bandra residence.
The tragedy comes only days after his former manager Disha Salian died, reportedly after she jumped off a building. Earlier this month, Rajput had shared a post on Instagram, his last on the platform, dedicated to his late mother. He hadn’t posted anything on Twitter after 27 December 2019.
Rajput’s death at the age of 34 has come as a shock, with colleagues and fans sharing their grief as well as their memories of his short yet impressive film career. Many also recalled his stint in TV soaps, which made him a household name well before his big-screen debut in Kai Po Che! in 2013.
Born in 1986 in Patna, Rajput went on to study engineering at the Delhi College of Engineering, completing three of the four years of his course while also attending dance classes at Shiamak Davar’s institute. He then went on to attend theatre veteran Barry John’s classes, and dropped out of college for a career in acting.
Rajput moved to Mumbai, where he joined Nadira Babbar’s theatre troupe, and soon, landed a supporting role in Star Plus’ Kis Desh Mein Hai Meraa Dil, which aired from 2008 to 2010. But it was Pavitra Rishta that was his real break on TV. Ekta Kapoor’s Balaji Telefilms, which also made Kis Desh Mein…, signed Rajput as the lead for this show, which ran on Zee TV from 2009 to 2014. The romantic drama had Rajput playing a car mechanic, and he was paired opposite Ankita Lokhande, whom he dated for a few years until 2016.
In 2010, Rajput participated in Zara Nachke Dikha and Jhalak Dikhlaa Jaa, both popular dance reality shows on TV. This proved to be a smart move, because casting directors and filmmakers found that the boy whom they knew as Manav the car mechanic was also a brilliant dancer, a major value addition for entry into Bollywood.
He then decided to quit Pavitra Rishta and enroll for a filmmaking course in the US, but that didn’t work out. Not that audiences would complain, because it was around this time that the big screen came calling. In 2013, Sushant Singh Rajput made his cracker of a movie debut with Kai Po Che!, after which there was no looking back. He wasn’t the kind of actor who did four films a year — in fact, since 2013, his filmscape includes just about 10 movies. But each movie was carefully chosen, and in each, he displayed a sincerity and dependability that made him a favourite.
Be it a romantic comedy in Shuddh Desi Romance, a gritty dacoit drama in Sonchiriya, a noirish thriller in Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! or a sweeping sports biopic in M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story, in which he played the title role, what shone through was his willingness to step out of his comfort zone and his eagerness to deliver a solid performance, filled with energy and heart.
Here is a look at some of Sushant Singh Rajput’s best movies to watch as fans grieve for the loss of another beloved actor gone too soon.
Kai Po Che! (2013)
The Abhishek Kapoor-directed movie is based on Chetan Bhagat’s book, The 3 Mistakes of My Life. The drama about three friends, played by Sushant Singh Rajput, Rajkummar Rao and Amit Sadh, who want to set up a cricket shop and academy, is set in Ahmedabad of 2001-2. This was when Gujarat, still reeling from the impact of the 2001 earthquake, was dealt another blow in the form of the Godhra train burning and the subsequent riots. How religion and politics affects the lives of these three friends, their loves, their dreams and their equation with each other, is what forms the story. It was an atypical choice for a Bollywood debut, but that is precisely what set Rajput apart. The film won and was nominated for a slew of awards, including several for Rajput. The music, by Amit Trivedi, deserves a special shoutout, particularly the song Manjha.
Shuddh Desi Romance (2013)
Rajput’s second film was as unconventional as his first, although completely different. A romantic comedy set in Jaipur, the film follows the story of a young tour guide and rental baaraati, who falls for a woman on his way to his own wedding, about which he already has cold feet. Director Maneesh Sharma’s take on love, marriage and commitment came as a breath of fresh air not only for its progressive take on live-in relationships, but also for the fact that Rajput’s character was sandwiched between two extremely strong, feisty and independent women, played by Parineeti Chopra and Vani Kapoor. Breezy, fun, yet with a forward-looking message, the movie was a hit, especially with young people.
Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! (2015)
Directed by Dibakar Banerjee, the mystery has Rajput showing off his acting chops in yet another unique film, based on the iconic character of the Bengali detective. Set in 1940s Calcutta, the movie follows a trail of opium, murder, blackmail and intrigue. It was critically acclaimed for its attention to detail. The cinematography by Nikos Andritsakis, and the soundtrack, a melange of styles and sounds by a number of artistes, apart from the tight performances by Rajput, Neeraj Kabi, Anand Tiwari and others, all worked together to create not a movie, but a whole mood.
The epic dacoit drama set in the Chambal ravines in the 1970s, the Abhishek Chaubey film stars Rajput along with Manoj Bajpayee, Bhumi Pednekar, Ashutosh Rana and Ranvir Shorey. A violent story of love, poverty, caste struggles and gender, the movie is a beautifully shot action thriller that draws one in despite the slow pace. Sushant Singh Rajput’s performance as Lakhna is explosive and heartbreaking and makes this one that really stands out in his filmography. And the soundtrack, with songs composed by Vishal Bhardwaj, is absolutely gorgeous.
Sushant Singh Rajput’s last movie on the big screen is now incredibly heartbreaking to write about, given that it is a story about a suicide attempt. Rajput yet again went out of his comfort zone and, at the age of 33, played a role that many actors much senior to him would still shy away from — that of the father of a teenager. When his son, having failed in his attempt to secure admission to a particular college, tries to end his life, his father’s own college friends, now distant and not really in touch, come together to help the young boy through his trauma. What follows is a fun, nostalgic flashback to his now-divorced parents’ (Rajput and Shraddha Kapoor) own life in college. The film is schmaltzy and the resolution comes too easy, but it is a sweet, fun movie about life, friendship, the importance of trying whether or not you succeed and the things that make life worth living.
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