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A Tribute To Sushant Singh Rajput: Lessons I Took From His Movies

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“Perfection lies in the ‘next’ step, passion lies in the ‘present’ one.” – Sushant Singh Rajput, Indian actor, dancer, entrepreneur, and philanthropist

Sushant Singh Rajput was a terrific actor who portrayed several roles that common people can easily relate to, fully or in parts, directly or indirectly. This is what I thought (and still think) about him. From a bright student to a merit-holder in the engineering entrance exam, who found his love for acting and left his bachelor’s for it, he was simply outstanding, not just as an actor but also as a human being.

RIP Sushant Singh Rajput: From playing MS Dhoni to a bandit in ...
Image Source: Hindustan Times

My Thoughts

Although I watched most of his movies, the ones that impressed me the most were MS Dhoni, Sonchiriya, and Chhichhore. So much so that I was waiting for his next movie to hit the theatres soon!

Given my experiences with the previous movies, I, yet again, wanted to indulge in the story and emotions of his upcoming film in the cinema hall.

I am sure you all must be familiar with that feeling — running to watch some specific films on the big screen with surround sound, to get a feeling that is way more intense than watching them on your laptop or TV! 

When I came across the news of SSR’s sudden and tragic demise on the internet, I could not believe myself like millions of his other fans. Till today (at the time of writing this article), I am not able to process the fact that I would no longer be able to see him in his awesome roles. We lost Irrfan Khan last month. I was sad, but I was able to slowly comprehend the fact that he was ill (tumour). But, learning about Sushant made me sadder, and this time, I am finding it increasingly difficult to grasp the reality of this incident.

Here Are Top 10 Movies In Which Irrfan Khan Left A Lasting Impression
Image Source: ABP News

The Transition: From Watching Entertainment To Infotainment Cinema

When I was small, I was more into watching movies that had many songs, colourful dresses, and beautiful locations. But, as I grew up, I began to slowly realize that life is not always roses. Feel-good moments are crucial, but there is much more to it. Since I like to watch movies, my focus in Bollywood slowly started to shift towards watching the work of actors like Irrfan Khan and Manoj Bajpayee.

After experiencing a few of Sushant’s movies, I began to feel that he was also one of them. For me, the excellent part was the delicate balance that he was able to successfully accomplish, between the two aspects — entertainment and awareness!

As a viewer and a movie-buff, I can safely say that not many people have this quality in them, and it certainly is applicable to all the professions, not just acting. Cinema has the ability to influence billions of people and hence, can act as an excellent means to spread messages. A majority of the characters that Sushant portrayed on the silver screen, apart from radiating the entertainment vibes, always spread awareness in one way or another.

Here are some of his movies which, I feel, give us some good life lessons, directly or indirectly:

Kai Po Che! | Reviews | Screen
Image Source: Screen Daily

Kai Po Che! (2013) – Marked as Sushant’s debut film in Bollywood, after his successful career in the TV industry, Kai Po Che! is based on Chetan Bhagat’s book The 3 Mistakes of My Life.

Depicting the Ahmedabad of 2001-02, when Gujarat massively suffered from the 2001 earthquake, it also portrays the burning of Godhra train and subsequent riots. The effects of religion and politics on various aspects of the lives of three friends constitute the base plotline of this story.

Some of the messages from this story include: the importance of good teachers in life; the vital role played by sports in shaping and developing an individual as well as a nation; the critical experiences that children acquire from desi-games can never be replaced by the ones on audio-visual platforms; and never forgetting one’s mother-tongue and roots as they are an integral part of our identities.

The majority community should come forward and stand united with the minorities so that we can become stronger as a country, and children should have proper dietary habits so that they can grow up into healthy adults — are some more thought-provoking messages from this movie.

Shuddh Desi Romance | Outlook India Magazine
Image Source: Outlook India

Shuddh Desi Romance (2013) – An unconventional Rom-Com set in Jaipur, Sushant’s second movie was a fresh take on love, commitment, and marriage. By means of portraying different facets of a love-triangle, it adopts a progressive approach towards addressing the matter of live-in relationships.

We are introduced to an urban India that is somewhere between tradition and modernity, no longer the strict believer and follower of conservatism (as it was in the past!) — where the young generation is not scared by the stigma of being left at the wedding-altar, where young women are confident and fully capable of standing up for themselves.

Detective Byomkesh Bakshy
Image source: The National

Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! (2015) – This mystery-thriller piece, loosely based on Saradindu Bandopadhyay’s Bengali classic, is a decent combination of reality and fantasy, wherein the character of detective Bakshy (brought to life by Sushant) takes up yet another case!

In his search for finding the mysteriously missing person, he discovers some more dangerous plots. Although the runtime of this film was longer than the average normal, its climax was appreciated by the viewers.

Providing a beautiful glimpse of the 1942 Calcutta, the movie is wonderfully crafted to narrate the opium peddlers, heroin sellers, British cops, oriental gangsters, and several other characters of those times. Amidst its captivating storyline and a fair share of excitement, the film shows us what it was like to live in the 40s, stuck in the middle of World War II tension and pre-independence anxiety.

Image source: Outlook India

MS Dhoni: The Untold Story (2017) – Inspired by the life of the former and one of the greatest captains of the Indian cricket team, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, this movie is the story of his struggles and rise to success, and depicts how a small-town boy overcame all obstacles and achieved the status of one of the most beloved cricketers of our country.

Sushant perfectly mastered the character of our favourite Maahi, starting from his body language and going all the way to excellently copying his signature helicopter shots!

Keeping the entertainment alive, the film effectively touches upon some serious issues: like backroom politics of cricket governing authorities; the role of sponsors; and pressures on the captain, to name a few.

It is a complete package and offers a motherlode of messages such as: finding and following our passion; not giving up but learning from our mistakes and failures; never being afraid to take risks in life and dreaming big; believing in ourselves; staying humble; never stop working hard; loving our friends — well, this list is very long.

Image source: Scroll

Sonchiriya (2019) – Painting the canvas with the accounts of a dacoit gang who wandered the Chambal area in the 1970s, this unafraid and aware period thriller features stellar actors like Manoj Bajpayee, Ashutosh Rana, Ranvir Shorey, and Bhumi Padnekar, along with SSR.

A riveting watch, the rootedness of this movie is clearly visible throughout all of its elements, ranging from the dialect spoken by the characters all the way to their clothing and way of living.

A puzzle on remorse and the approach of preferring salvation over survival, it poetically talks about how multiple and endless waves of violence, when unleashed, can sweep away everyone with them. Focused on cops, confrontations, battles, and ambush, this film successfully draws our attention to some intriguing and intense issues of caste discrimination, poisonous patriarchy, unfair and extreme gender biases, and ingrained superstitions, among others.

It brings us face-to-face with serious questions — like, the so-called righteous people of our society can be devils in disguise, but outlaws can possess codes of moral and honour; in such a case, whom should we trust? Moreover, it also gives us reasons for why we should never confuse revenge with justice.

Image source: DNA

Chhichhore (2019) – Released in September 2019, this movie is about how the parents (played by Sushant and Shraddha Kapoor) of a teenager who failed to crack JEE and hence attempted suicide, along with their friends, try to make him aware of the necessity of failure in life by recounting their own college experiences.

Juggling between the mid-’80s and the present-day world, this movie elegantly emphasises the importance of backup plans. Every parent, nowadays, is so eager to help their child achieve a better career, that they often fail to prepare their kids for facing failures in life.

They almost never pay attention to create an alternative route, in case their main plan does not work! And, this is what causes hopelessness, confusion, and a lack of confidence in children, which might lead to even graver health issues such as depression and mental illness.

Chhichhore tries to instil in us a sense of understanding that learning from failures is our door to success. We can make all the difference in the world with our way of interpreting this failure. Instead of losing our identity in the darkness, we should grasp the fact that failures can help us achieve the light at the end of that darkness. They are a test and we just need to gear up, strategize and fight back with all we have!

Through a series of incidents, this film succeeds in establishing that logical reasoning, creative and critical thinking, problem-solving skills, team spirit, and true-friendship are some aspects that form the basis of success in life. It ends with the message of never being afraid under any circumstances and encourages us to reach out and talk to people in case we feel low at any point in our lives.

Apart from the ones mentioned above, SSR starred in several other movies (Drive, Kedarnath, Raabta, PK) and won our hearts with his diverse roles and charming personality. His last film would be Dil Bechara (2020) that is based on the popular novel The Fault in Our Stars.

It is ironic that an actor, who spread the hopeful messages of effectively tackling depression and paying attention to our mental health last year, left us tragically because of similar reasons. Sushant Singh Rajput captivated me (and millions of others) through his great acting skills. He belonged to a middle-class family in Bihar and achieved success in Bollywood through his hard work and dedication.

I feel that this is one of the reasons why common people like us could relate ourselves to him. Many looked up to him. He loved to study and help people, liked to watch the twinkling stars through his telescope; acting was his passion, and he had a long way to go. India will miss him.

My only message to the people who are reading this — please don’t isolate yourself. Talking to parents and loved ones and being aware of the situation will help you win over it. Try to stay strong. It may be stormy now but it will not remain like this forever. There will always be sunshine, sooner or later, so hold on to your courage.

“Be kind, for everyone we meet is fighting a hard battle.” – Plato

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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