Sushant Singh Rajput is an Indian film and television actor. He started his career with television serials, including an award-winning performance in the soap opera Pavitra Rishta and as a participant in two dance reality shows. He then entered films with a role as one of the three male leads in the drama Kai Po Che! (2013), for which he received critical acclaim as well as three Best Male Debut awards. His other notable films since then have been as the hero of the romantic comedy Shuddh Desi Romance (2013) and as the titular detective in the thriller Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! (2015), both of which were produced by Yash Raj Films. He had his biggest commercial success with the role of a Pakistani Muslim in the fantasy drama PK (2014), which ranks among the highest-grossing Indian films.
Sushant Singh Rajput has been shooting for films back-to-back. In between, he also shifted to a new sea-facing apartment in Bandra (W).
“I still don’t feel fully settled. I am still doing up my house. It is very quiet, and has a great view. It is a perfect place to come back to after work, and do absolutely nothing,” says the actor, as he talks about his Bollywood journey so far, the praise he’s received for the trailer of his next, and more.
Your journey in the past three years has been quite eventful.
Now when I look back, it does seem so. The passion I felt while working with Abhishek (Kapoor; director) on Kai Po Che (2013), and the pride I experienced while working on Shuddh Desi Romance (2013), was great. I also enjoyed a seven-month-long ‘masterclass’ with Shekhar Kapur (director). I understood a different approach towards my craft thanks to Dibakar Banerjee (the director of Detective Byomkesh Bakshy; 2015). Then, you get to play MS Dhoni with Neeraj Pandey (director). These experiences are what I crave for.
Many consider you an outsider in the industry. Do you think the insider-outsider debate has become redundant now?
Only one thing can protect you from this prejudice — be really good at what you do and be professional. We have some of the biggest success stories of outsiders, and unfortunate ones of insiders. So, in the long run, it doesn’t matter.
In life, what do you prefer — a see-saw ride or a smooth run?
Definitely, a see saw ride. If I knew exactly how things would pan out, I would be bored to death. The closest synonym of happiness is excitement, and you can generate it by doing something that you can’t completely comprehend. This understanding makes the process rich and exciting. So, you stumble over something new, and then work on it and make it your own. We should never forget the inevitable, as we will lose everything eventually. So, why fret over any kind of security? The idea is to just fly and experience it all while it lasts.
Your upcoming films look interesting. Are you excited?
If I wasn’t interested, I wouldn’t be doing what I do. I left everything I had, to become an actor. So, I better be excited, or otherwise, there is no point in doing all this. Else I would end up being disappointed with whatever I achieve.
You recently injured your knee on the sets of Raabta…
Yes. It is getting better now. I can’t run for one month, but then I am doing all kinds of acrobats in my head, so that is taken care of (smiles).
The trailer and songs of your next film (MS Dhoni’s biopic) are getting a great response. Are you nervous or confident?
Right now, these responses do nothing to me. I am relieved that everyone is excited and waiting for the film. I hope it becomes a hit, so that I get to do films like this again. I have witnessed Mahi’s (Dhoni) story closely, and it has changed me as a human being. Now I want everyone to witness it.
You have a bunch of films lined up. It seems like you are making up for lost time (he didn’t shoot for any film for some time after Shuddh Desi Romance; 2013).
Yes, I am waiting for quite a few exciting films to start. I have no idea how I am going to pull them off within the given time. But I am so excited. In the first three years [of my career], I was careful and analytical. But thinking like that is overrated; it is of no use. I am learning not to be careful now. I am learning the importance of living in the moment.
You recently tweeted about nepotism. Do you think nepotism is dangerous for any industry?
Of course. Over a period of time, if we keep giving chances to people who don’t have any talent or skills, then eventually, we will create an unbalanced equation. The whole industry will collapse because the target audience is being exposed to wonderful international cinema and talent. We are yet to reach that tipping point, but we must never take the audience’s understanding and our relevance for granted.
Your next project is being touted as your most commercial film…
Yes, in terms of having romance as a backdrop, and an engaging narrative, it is. I also got to flaunt my ninja skills and Michael Jackson moves (laughs). The experience has been fulfilling, but it was also really exhausting. I’m waiting for the movie’s final edit now.
Have you built a safety net around yourself to not get affected by rumors about your personal life?
Yes, because they definitely affect you as you’re not used to it. But you do get immune after a point. You understand that these ‘stories’ have a shelf life. People who hire you don’t care about such frivolous stuff.