“Suicide is the role that you wrote for yourself. You inhabit it and you enact it. All carefully staged – where they will find you and how they will find you. But one performance only.’ – Philip Roth
2020 has been a a year with more number of tragedies compared to what the world has experienced collectively in the last few combined decades. On June 14, another tragedy struct out of the blue – a young sprightly actor committed suicide by hanging himself in his apartment. The actor, who answered to the name of – Sushant Singh Rajput, was a select few of the ‘outsiders,’ who had made it ‘big’ without any Godfather in the Indian film industry.
A life snuffed out little too soon, Sushant, who was only 34, had an overhead-tank list (calling it a bucket list is an affront to such an esoteric bunch of aspirations and desires) of things he wanted to do or achieve. It was a list, which defines and describes him. He was not your run-of-a-mill Bollywood actor, he was a thinking-man’s performer. Sushant was the right man in the wrong place. He was an actor with sense and sensibilities of a philosopher, a dancer with better moves than most of his highly rated peers, a person with an engineering bent of mind without a formal degree and a man with an interest in real stars in the galaxy than the so-called-star of tinsel town. These things made him an odd-ball and sometimes a self-wrecking one because in more cases than otherwise, he never played ball with the high and mighty among whose world he entered and made a mark.
SSR’s life was a story of ironies and paradoxes. He hailed from Patna and made his own in maximum city of Mumbai, where we all know how Biharis are treated. He was the one with a single digit rank in All India Engineering Entrance but he did not finish up his engineering. Sushant debuted in the third row of background dancers with Shiamak Davar’s dance troupe on Filmfare Awards stage and was nominated for a Filmfare Award for his his very first movie ‘Kai Po Che’ for Best Debut Male. He was more interested in astrophysics and quantum mechanics than the typical intrigues and machinations of Bollywood and finally another heartrending fact is that he essayed the most ice-cool cricketer India has ever produced in the fil :M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story’ but lost his cool when he needed it the most. How does it not get more ironical than this?
A plethora of conspiracy theories are bandied and today the World Wide Web is replete with them, some in favor and some against; but then again that’s the internet for you – it will always be your slave and is ready to dish out the point of view you wish to hear and see and that you are biased towards. Reminds me of a statement about this country: ‘What is true about this country, equal and opposite is also true.’ The same applies to the internet-space; so it is just another medium to find ‘your own truth’. It is a blot on our social-conscious that a man of such clarity, capabilities, caliber and competence to have another man talking to him in his head and winning not only the battles but the war as well.
We will always remember Sushant as the one who doled out advice in Chhichhore as to never give up. We will remember him for his passion and commitment in Kai Po Che. He will stay with us as that spirited confused youth from Shuddh Desi Romance but where he really made his mark and carved a niche of his own is with two of his best works till date (and sadly it will remain this way). In the ‘docu-drama’ titled Sonchiriyaa, he just nailed it amid a host of performers at the top of their game and then in M.S Dhoni: The Untold Story, he not only got the acting chops at place but he became the person and got his mannerisms to boot, and he hit it a long way out of park both literally and figuratively. The world cup moment winning moment is etched in our nation’s collective recall – twice. Thanks to Dhoni and Sushant.
With Sushant’s demise, the collective IQ of Bollywood has just been badly halved. It’s a bit harsh and critical to opine this but Sushant was an icon for youth of this country with all his deeds and acts; but one last act in real-life makes us realize that we all have our feet of clay and a never ending bad-day. Sushant Singh Rajput, with reasons known only to him, found a permanent solution to a temporary problem, leaving all of us desolate, devastated and distressed. He deserved better, for sure!
May his soul Rest in Peace.
Dr Jitendra Sharma is an engineer with PhD in Mechanical Engg. He is Professor of Operations and Supply Chain at IMT, Nagpur. He has worked in industry for 5 years and 25 years in academics.