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Remembering Sushant Singh Rajput on his first death anniversary today

Says Senior Journalist Jyothi Venkatesh, who had ironically interviewed him only once that too on the telephone when he had made his film debut with Kai Po Che



Sushant Singh Rajput

By Jyothi Venkatesh

I have still not at all recovered from the shockwave of the suicide of actor Sushant Singh Rajput, exactly today, just one year ago. Worse still, till today, I still do not have any clue as to what prompted the young and bright boy to take away his life when he had presumably the entire world on his pockets after having acted in a spate of ten films during a span of seven years ever since he had made his debut with the film Kai Po Che way back in 2013.

The curious case of Sushant Singh Rajput’s death is yet a mystery yet to be unraveled as the case is under investigation. The 34-year-old actor was found hanging at his Bandra pad in Mumbai, exactly a year ago, on June 14, 2020. Three premiere agencies – the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) are currently still in the process of probing the matter.

The brilliant lad would have inched his way slowly and steadily had he waged his personal demons with more patience, because 34 is just not the age to die at all. The Sushant that I knew was very shy, inhibited and a thorough introvert. But then the lad was used to getting whatever he wanted at a very young age.

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At the age of just 22, Sushant Singh made his acting debut with the TV show ‘Kis Desh Mein Hai Meraa Dil’. His role in ‘Pavitra Rishta’ as Manav Deshmukh, proved to be a breakthrough and made him the heart-throb of every single girl in the country overnight and what’s more, for the first time he actually fell in love with  his co-star Ankita Lokhande .

I remember Sushant had participated in the show with choreographer Champa. Sushant and Ankita were madly in love with each other at that time and it was evident through their chemistry that they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together. On the show, Sushant Singh Rajput had even admitted that he had finally gathered the courage to propose marriage to his then girlfriend Anita Lokhande by going down on his knees. Priyanka Chopra (guest appearance), Remo D’souza, Malaika Arora and Madhuri Dixit, who were seated on the judges’ seat were happy to see this and asked Ankita to reply to his proposal.

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The entire world came to know that Sushant Singh Rajput’s pet name was actually Gugu when Ankita Lokhande couldn’t stop blushing and replied with an ‘I Love You, Gugu.’ Sushant was hiding his face as he heard Ankita call him ‘Gugu’ on national television. Malaika asked Ankita to reply to him and she said that he understood what the meaning of ‘ I love you’ was. Ankita agreed and both tug into each other’s arms after admitting their love for each other.

In fact, it would not be out of place, if I were to say that after Shah Rukh Khan , it was Sushant Singh Rajput who had made his transition from the small screen to the big one with effortless ease. Like Shah Rukh Khan, the engineering college dropout Sushant Singh Rajput also was a rank outsider to the film industry. If Shah Rukh Khan had come from Delhi, Sushant made his way to the tinsel town all the way from Bihar. Even when he was enjoying his life with his new found success, Sushant Singh Rajput was grabbed for the dance reality show Jhalak Dikhla Jaa, which changed the course of his life and since then, there was no looking back at all for SSR, as he was fondly called.

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Often Sushant used to confide in his friends that he used to enjoy his stint with Ekjute Theater group which was founded by Raj Babbar’s wife Nadira Babbar, as a struggling new actor who had come down from Bihar when he was in his 20’s. Even after tasting stardom, Sushant never forgot to make it a point to stroll down to the Prithvi Café and mingle with his old theatre friends over several cups of Irish Coffee

The best thing about Sushant was the fact that he was a real gentleman and chivalrous to the core. However you tried to provoke him, he would not breathe a word about his private matters of heart to anyone (and that included Ankita Lokhande at one time and Riya Chakraborty later on).  Nor has Sushant said a word against his then girlfriend Ankita Lokhande or for that matter Kriti Sanon with whom he reportedly fell in love during the outdoor schedule of his film Raabta in which she was the leading lady. Sadly, when finally we felt that he had indeed come across his real soul mate in Rhea Chakraborty at last, fate willed otherwise and he was no more amidst us.

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Though he had kept the news strictly private and not many are aware of it, the fact is that the 34-year-old actor was suffering from clinical depression and Rhea and he were regularly paying a visit to the psychiatrist for getting treated for several months for the same, since they had started dating one another. Sushant had reportedly lost not one or two but seven films six months before he passed away. Many have opined that the prevailing nepotism in the industry was responsible for this especially as he was banned by some producers who wield a lot of clout in the industry.

After Chichchore clicked in a big way, Sushant was in a happy zone but unfortunately for him, his producer Karan Johar chose to release the Sushant Singh- Jacqueline Fernandez starrer Drive directed by Tarun Mansukhani on the OTT platform Netflix instead of in theatres, for whatever reasons he deemed fit. Sushant was crestfallen. Earlier, Sushant had actually pinned a lot of his hopes on the success of his film Sonchiriya but it turned out to be a damp squib at the box office thus hurting Sushant’s morale.

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Though Sushant featured in headlines for buying land on the far side of the Moon, in a region called the Mare Moscoviense, or the Sea of Muscovy, the last straw was when his film Dil Bechara was shrouded by controversy when the casting director Mukesh Chhabra who was making the film was targeted because of the #MeToo campaign and it took him a while to come out of it with a clean chit.

When Mukesh Chhabra decided to sell the film to an OTT platform as he was finding it difficult to get a buyer for the film even after waiting for over a year, Sushant was aghast but he could not do anything to make Mukesh change his mind because he had invested hell of a lot on the film Del Bechara. Finally, Sushant Singh Rajput was very upset when his ambitious film Chanda Mama Door Ke directed by Sanjay Puran Singh in which he was slated to play an astronaut was shelved.

We miss you dear Gugu! I only wish you had not changed your telephone number after promising me that we will be in touch regularly but made me doubt whether success all of a sudden had made him swollen-headed enough to break from all friends and maintain a social distance even before Covid had struck all of us.