Sushant Singh Rajput

Sushant Singh Rajput (21 January 1986 – 14 June 2020) was an Indian actor who is best known for his work in Hindi cinema.[5] Rajput started his career with television serials.[6] His debut show was Star Plus's romantic drama Kis Desh Mein Hai Meraa Dil (2008), followed by a starring role in Zee TV's soap opera Pavitra Rishta (2009–2011).

Sushant Singh Rajput
Sushant Singh Rajput snapped at the promotions of 'M.S. Dhoni - The Untold Story' (cropped).jpg
Rajput at a promotional event for M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story in 2016
Born(1986-01-21)21 January 1986[1]
Died14 June 2020(2020-06-14) (aged 34)[4]
Cause of deathSuicide by hanging[4]
Alma materDelhi Technological University
OccupationActor
Years active2008–2020

Rajput made his film debut in the buddy drama Kai Po Che! (2013), for which he received a nomination for the Filmfare Award for Best Male Debut. He then starred in the romantic comedy Shuddh Desi Romance (2013) and as the titular detective in the action thriller Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! (2015). His highest-grossing releases came with a supporting role in the satire PK (2014), followed by the titular role in the sports biopic M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story (2016). For his performance in the latter, he received his first nomination for the Filmfare Award for Best Actor.[7][8] Rajput went on to star in the commercially successful films Kedarnath (2018) and Chhichhore (2019).[9][10] His last film, Dil Bechara (2020), was released posthumously on Hotstar. It became the most viewed movie for that platform, with 95 million viewers within 24 hours.[11][12][13]

NITI Aayog, the policy think-tank of the Indian government, signed him to promote the Women Entrepreneurship Platform (WEP).[14][15] Apart from acting and running a technological startup,[16] Rajput was actively involved in helping young students.[17][18] He was also the co-founder of an AI and technology company and a charity based company for social work.[19] Rajput died by suicide at his home in Bandra, Mumbai in June 2020, at age 34.[20][21]

Early life and background

Sushant Singh Rajput was born in Maldiha in the Purnia district of Bihar[2] to Krishna Kumar Singh and Usha Singh.[22] One of his sisters, Mitu Singh, is a state-level cricketer.[23][24] His mother's death in 2002[25] left Rajput devastated and it was in the same year that the family moved from Patna to Delhi.[23]

Rajput attended St. Karen's High School in Patna and Kulachi Hansraj Model School in New Delhi.[26] According to Rajput, he had ranked seventh in the DCE Entrance Exam in 2003,[27] and secured admission in the Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical Engineering) class in Delhi College of Engineering.[23] He was also a National Olympiad Winner in Physics.[28] In all, he cleared as many as 11 engineering entrance exams, including that for the Indian School of Mines.[23] After he started participating in theatre and dance, he rarely had time for studies, resulting in several backlogs which ultimately made him leave DCE.[27] He completed only three years of the four-year course before dropping out to pursue an acting career.[23]

While a student at Delhi Technological University, Rajput enrolled in Shiamak Davar's dance classes.[29] It was only later that the idea of making a career in acting came to him, as some of his fellow students in the dance classes happened to be interested in acting and was attending Barry John's drama classes. Influenced by them, Rajput also joined the acting classes. Here, he found his passion for acting: "I found the experience liberating. I realised that I could communicate with the audience. I knew I wanted to do this forever."[30]

Within a few months of joining the dance class, Rajput was selected to be a member of Davar's standard dance troupe. In 2005, he was chosen to be one of the groups of background dancers at the 51st Filmfare Awards. In 2006, he was part of the troupe that went to Australia to perform in the cultural programme at the opening ceremony of the 2006 Commonwealth Games. By this time, he was tired of engineering. He was happy and successful in the dance and drama classes and decided to do what he was good at. He dropped out of engineering and devoted himself full-time to dancing and acting.[27]

To make a break into films, Rajput moved to Mumbai and joined Nadira Babbar's Ekjute theatre group, which he remained a part of for two and a half years.[29] During this time, he was featured in a TV advertisement for Nestlé Munch, which became famous throughout India.[31]

Career

Television (2008–2011)

In 2008, the casting team of Balaji Telefilms saw Rajput's personality and acting talent while he was on stage for one of Ekjute's plays.[31] They invited him to audition for them and Rajput landed the role of Preet Juneja in Kis Desh Mein Hai Meraa Dil.[32] His character was killed quite early in the show, but he was such a popular character with the viewers that he was brought back for the series finale in the form of a spirit, looking on as his family celebrates after going through difficult times.[33]

In June 2009, Rajput began starring in Pavitra Rishta as Manav Deshmukh, a serious and mature character working as a mechanic to support his family. His work in this serial received wide appreciation, and Rajput received three major television awards for the best male actor and most popular actor.[31] This performance was his breakthrough and gave him a stepping stone into films.[34] Initially when producer Ekta Kapoor cast him as lead for Pavitra Rishta while playing the parallel lead in Kis Desh Mein Hai Meraa Dil, Zee TV did not accept him. However, Kapoor convinced them.[35]

In May 2010, Rajput joined the dance reality show Zara Nachke Dikha 2.[36] Rajput was a part of the Mast Kalandar Boys Team, which ultimately became the first runner up of the season.[37] He shot for both Pavitra Rishta and Zara Nachke Dikha 2 at the same time.[36] On the Mother's Day special episode, his team dedicated a performance to his mother, who had died in 2002.[38]

In December 2010, Rajput participated in another dance-based reality show, Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa 4, where he was paired with choreographer Shampa Sonthalia, for which he again became the first runner up of the season.[39][40]

In October 2011, Rajput decided to quit Pavitra Rishta to pursue a filmmaking course abroad, and in November 2011, Rajput quit the series and was replaced by Hiten Tejwani.[41] However, in October 2014, Tejwani paved way for Rajput who appeared in the final episode aired on 25 October 2014 as Manav.[42][43]

Film (2013–2020)

 
From left to right: Rajput, Rajkumar Rao, Abhishek Kapoor and Amit Sadh at the promotion of Kai Po Che! in 2013

Rajput auditioned for Abhishek Kapoor's Kai Po Che! and was selected to play one of the three leads, along with Rajkumar Rao and Amit Sadh. Based on the Chetan Bhagat novel The 3 Mistakes of My Life, the film proved to be a critical and commercial success. His portrayal of Ishaan Bhatt, an ex-district level cricketer who is a victim of politics in the cricketing selection fraternity, was praised.[44] Critic Rajeev Masand wrote: "...it's Sushant Singh Rajput, making his film debut as Ishaan, who it's hard to take your eyes off. The actor has an indescribable presence and it's clear from his confidence and distinct likeability that a star is born."[45]

His second movie was Shuddh Desi Romance, alongside Parineeti Chopra and Vaani Kapoor. Directed by Maneesh Sharma and produced by Yash Raj Films, the film deals with the subject of live-in relationships and was completely filmed in Jaipur, Rajasthan. Taran Adarsh from Bollywood Hungama praised Rajput's performance, saying: "After leaving a tremendous impression in his first Hindi outing, Sushant Singh Rajput... brings a lot of freshness with his unpretentious and spontaneous act."[46] Sukanya Verma from Rediff stated: "After a dynamic debut in Kai Po Che!, Rajput channelises his abundant energy to convey the childlike ineptitude of a man who wears his heart on a sleeve."[47] Sushant's next role was in Rajkumar Hirani's 2014 film PK. Although his role was relatively minor, the film gave him the opportunity to work with Aamir Khan and Anushka Sharma. Upon its release, the film proved to be the one of the highest-grossing Indian films.[48][49]

In 2015, Rajput's sole release was Dibakar Banerjee's mystery thriller Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! (2015), in which he portrayed detective Byomkesh Bakshi, created by Bengali writer Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay. The film was produced jointly by Yash Raj Films and Banerjee's own film production company Dibakar Banerjee Productions. Set in Kolkata in the 1940s,[50] the film was released on 3 April 2015.[51][52]

 
Rajput with Kriti Sanon promoting Raabta in 2017

In 2016, he appeared in Neeraj Pandey's biographical sports film M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story, in lead role of Indian cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni. The film was a critical and commercial success, becoming one of the highest-grossing Bollywood films of 2016. Rajput's performance was widely praised by critics[7][8] and earned him his first nomination for the Filmfare Award for Best Actor.[53]

In 2017, he appeared in Dinesh Vijan's Raabta, co-starring Kriti Sanon.[54][55] In this film he played the character of Shiv, a warrior prince who gets reincarnated after centuries to get revenge and to get his love back.[56]

In 2018, he appeared in Kedarnath, a love story set in the backdrop of the 2013 floods in Uttarakhand, co-starring Sara Ali Khan.[57] He played the role of Mansoor Khan, a young Kashmiri man.[58]

In 2019, he appeared in Abhishek Chaubey's Sonchiriya opposite Bhumi Pednekar.[59][60] He appeared in Nitesh Tiwari's Chhichhore opposite Shraddha Kapoor that released on 6 September 2019. Later that year, he starred in Drive alongside Jacqueline Fernandez, which was released on Netflix.[61]

In 2020, he starred in Mukesh Chhabra's remake of The Fault in Our Stars titled Dil Bechara. The film was slated to be released in May of that year but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[62]

In 2016, it was announced that Rajput would appear in two films: Chanda Mama Door Ke, a science-fiction space film, along with R. Madhavan; and Takadum, a musical drama, opposite Irrfan Khan and Parineeti Chopra, supposed to be directed by Homi Adajania.[63][64][65] He later withdrew from the former, citing date conflicts.[66] He was also going to star in Shekhar Kapur's project Paani which was shelved due to production issues by Yash Raj Studios.[67][68] He was also set to essay 12 real-life characters, including political strategist Chanakya, poet Rabindranath Tagore and former Indian president A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, in a biopic series on Stories of India.[69][70]

Personal life

 
Rajput with Lokhande at Kai Po Che's premiere

Rajput was in a publicised relationship with his Pavitra Rishta co-star Ankita Lokhande for six years.[71] They broke up in 2016.[72][73]

Rajput loved astronomy and astrophysics, and purchased a Meade LX-600 16" telescope, placing it in a window of his house to observe the rings of Saturn.[74] In preparation for his role as an astronaut in Chanda Mama Door Ke, he was given the opportunity to train at NASA. He intended to go back and complete the certificate of instructor training, aspiring to be chosen for the 2024 Artemis program.[75] In 2017, he funded the trip for two students to the US Space Camp Center, under his education programme[76] called Sushant4Education.[77]

In May 2018, Rajput co-founded Innsaei Ventures, a technological startup.[78][79] In September 2019, he started another tech company called Vividrage Rhealityx Pvt Ltd; he served as one of the three directors of the company, along with actress Rhea Chakraborty and her brother Showik Chakraborty.[80] In January 2020, Rajput started a social work company Front India for World Foundation where he again served as one of the three directors of the company.[81]

On 16 July 2020, more than a month after Rajput's death, Rhea Chakraborty identified herself on social media as Rajput's girlfriend.[82]

Death

On 14 June 2020, Rajput, aged 34, was found dead, hanging from the ceiling fan[4] in his home in Bandra, Mumbai.[83] He had reportedly been suffering from depression.[84] The Mumbai Police commenced an investigation, stating that the death was being treated as a suicide.[85] The postmortem report stated that the cause of death was "asphyxia due to hanging."[86] No foul play was found.[87] The viscera report likewise ruled out foul play.[88] On 25 July, Rajput's family lodged a first information report with police in Patna, where his father lives, accusing Rhea Chakraborty and five others of abetment of suicide.[89]

On 16 July 2020, Hindustan Times reported that in the wake of Rajput's suicide, "a massive online campaign fuelled by conspiracy theories has been demanding a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) investigation into the matter." Rhea Chakraborty,[82] Rajput's maternal uncle[90] and an online campaign[91] also demanded the same. On 17 July, Maharashtra Home Minister, Anil Deshmukh, denied a CBI probe was required.[92] On 5 August, however, Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General of India, told the Supreme Court that the executive branch of India's national government had accepted the recommendation by Bihar's state government for a CBI inquiry into Rajput's death.[93] On that basis, officials said, CBI has decided to start the probe.[94]

Filmography

Films

Year Title Role Notes Ref.
2013 Kai Po Che! Ishaan Bhatt [95]
Shuddh Desi Romance Raghu Ram [96]
2014 PK Sarfaraz Yousuf [97]
2015 Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! Detective Byomkesh Bakshy [98]
2016 M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story Mahendra Singh Dhoni [99]
2017 Raabta Jilaan/Shiv Kakkar [100]
2018 Welcome to New York Himself [101]
Kedarnath Mansoor Khan [102]
2019 Sonchiriya Lakhan "Lakhna" Singh [103]
Chhichhore Aniruddh "Anni" Pathak [104]
Drive Samar [105]
2020 Dil Bechara Manny Posthumous release [106]

Television

Year Title Role Notes Ref.
2008–2009 Kis Desh Mein Hai Meraa Dil Preet Juneja [107]
2009–2011 Pavitra Rishta Manav Deshmukh [107]
2010 Zara Nachke Dikha Contestant Team "Mast Kalandar Boys" [107]
2010–2011 Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa 4 Contestant Runner-up [107]

Music videos

Year Song Ref
2017 "Paas Aao" [108]

Awards and nominations

 
Rajput at Filmfare Awards
Year Award Category Film Result Ref.
2009 Indian Telly Awards Most Popular Actor (Male) Pavitra Rishta Nominated [109]
2010 Indian Television Academy Awards Most Popular Actor (Male) Won [110]
BIG Star Entertainment Awards Best Television Actor (Male) Won [111]
Gold Awards Best Actor in a Lead Role Won [112]
2011 Won [113]
FICCI Frames Excellence Honours Best TV Actor (Male) Won [114]
Lions Gold Awards Best Actor Won [115]
Kalakar Awards Favourite Actor (Male) Won [116]
2014 Producers Guild Film Awards Best Male Debut Kai Po Che! Won [117]
Best Actor in a Leading Role Nominated [118]
Screen Awards Best Male Debut Won [119]
Zee Cine Awards Best Male Debut Nominated [120]
Filmfare Awards Best Male Debut Nominated
IIFA Awards Best Actor in a Leading Role Nominated [121]
2016 Screen Awards Best Actor (Critics) M.S Dhoni: The Untold Story Won [122]
2017 Filmfare Awards Best Actor Nominated [123]
Zee Cine Awards Best Actor – Male Nominated [124]
Stardust Awards Best Actor Nominated [125]
International Indian Film Academy Awards Best Actor (Male) Nominated [126]
Indian Film Festival of Melbourne Best Actor Won [127]

See also

References

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