“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.
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.
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! (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 (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! (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.
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.
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.
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