He’s only one film old, but that hasn’t stopped Sushant Singh Rajput from scaling the popularity charts. After a hit debut in Abhishek Kapoor’s Kai Po Che (KPC) earlier this year, he is now set to work with some of the biggest filmmakers in the industry. The lineup includes Raj Kumar Hirani’s P.K., Dibakar Banerjee’s Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! and Abhishek’s Fitoor.
Here, an earnest Sushant talks about overcoming his inhibitions, achieving his dreams and getting married to his girlfriend Ankita Lokhande.
You’ve signed projects with the likes of Raj Kumar Hirani and producer Aditya Chopra. Does this feel like an achievement?
The work I put into a project isn’t dependent on the medium or the company I work for. I felt a sense of achievement because both of them (Hirani and Chopra) auditioned me before KPC released. They selected me on the basis of that.
Are you nervous?
I’m not nervous because I’ve never wanted to be a star. Tomorrow if things don’t work out, I’ll continue acting in theatre, or TV or I’ll make short films. No one can stop me from acting or learning.
Did you feel like a newcomer while working with Anushka Sharma (in P.K.) and Parineeti Chopra (in Shuddh Desi Romance)?
I felt like that off camera because I’m very shy. I took up the performing arts to overcome my inhibitions. I don’t have the ability to express myself when I’m not acting. And I’m quite star-struck off camera too. Meeting Aamir Khan, Irrfan and all the established artistes I’ve worked with has been a dream. Aamir told me he liked KPC and even invited me to his house for a Diwali party — I felt that was an achievement (smiles).
Why do people tend to assume that you and Ankita are married?
People want to see us together, I think. We will get married this year or the next.
Is it true that Ayushmann Khurrana got angry when a talent management company choose you over him?
Big companies do a lot of research before selecting brand ambassadors. We (actors) can’t influence their decisions. This report is obviously not true. Ayushmann and I have been friends for a while. And I don’t think one can compare two actors; you can only compare two stars. And I’m not one.
You’re not one yet?
I don’t aspire to be a star. I don’t understand it (the term).
Who is your role model?
Shah Rukh Khan, for his intelligence. Irrfan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui for their sheer talent.
How was your experience working in your upcoming film?
Great. Parineeti (Chopra) is spontaneous and talented enough to react during improvised scenes. The chemistry you see looks real and organic. I was impressed by Vaani (Kapoor), who was confident on screen. I remember I was nervous performing for the first time on TV. Working with Rishiji (Kapoor) was fabulous too and I learnt a lot from him.
The film deals with unusual themes. Whoever has ever been in a relationship will connect with it. Many might feel, ‘Yes, these things happen but why are you talking about it openly?’ Indian culture is hypocritical in many ways and those who don’t adhere to stereotypes of social protocol are looked at in a negative light. There’s discrimination about male chauvinism, live-in relationships and marriage, but we don’t talk about it. Today’s youth is confused about whether to follow Indian culture or western practices.
Was Ankita not happy that you kissed in Shuddh Desi Romance?
No, she’s okay with it as she’s an actor herself. She wasn’t fine when I died in Kai Po Che though.
Ankita seems keen to act in films. She apparently auditioned for Farah Khan’s Happy New Year.
I don’t know. Whenever she wants to, she will do films. She’s talented and beautiful enough.