He remained an underdog in spite of a grand debut with Kai Po Che in 2013. Personal and professional upheavals notwithstanding, Sushant Singh Rajput came into his own to deliver one of the highest grossers of the year — MS Dhoni: The Untold Story. Looking ahead at a strong line-up in 2017, experts believe he is the actor to watch out for this year.
Sushant talks about his life, work and more in an exclusive chat with Hindustan Times.
Rumours are rife that you were supposed to work in Befikre and that you were offered the film first…
Let me clear it once and for all. I was never offered Befikre. But had I been offered, I wouldn’t have done it. I know it’s easier to decide after the results are out but I have a reason. If the same production house is offering me a niche film like Detective Byomkesh Bakshy (2015), I would do it because Dibakar Banerjee (director) has a different interpretation of the old classic; and I would do a Paani where Shekhar Kapur (film-maker) will be raising a very important and immediate issue…
But what about Befikre?
If Befikre was representing the new-age youth of India and romance as what it was claiming, it would have been great irrespective of the box-office numbers. But unfortunately, it didn’t do that, and hence I would not be interested. I am not suggesting that films should only reflect reality (like Pink, Neerja, or Dhoni biopic). They could also be totally fanciful yet great films like The Jungle Book (2016), which was also very popular. But it’s extremely important to know and then claim what you have made. It’s a wonderful new India, and it is reflecting in the way we are bridging the gap between our ‘hits’ and ‘good’ films.
There is a buzz about the cold war brewing between you and Ranveer Singh.
Probably, it’s because we are about the same age and also because I opted out of the old management (Aditya Chopra’s company) and he (Ranveer) decided otherwise, and so some comparisons can be made. But I feel the choices we young actors make will be a differentiator when it comes to films that are made, our respective careers and the taste of our audience. We should not think about all the present popular trends but should also be willing to take educated risks and should not shy away from failures in trying something innovative.
Do you ever look at what your contemporaries are up to?
Yes, I do. I believe it’s necessary. I feel we all together are a tremendous power. We as actors understand that there is a gap between the kind of films we generally make in India and the kind of films that are being made all around the world. I feel that we all, with our skills and fearlessness, have the power to improve the kind of cinema that is being made. Only then, will it blur the line between ‘good films’ and ‘commercial films’. It may be tough to begin with and we could fail, but together, we could write the best phase of our movie industry.
With a big commercial hit under your belt, has the pressure to keep up multiplied?
I embrace unpredictability and I’m extremely comfortable with it. I am also aware that, as actors, there is only so much that we control and nobody knows anything about the future, so why fret? I am not in a hurry to prove anything, and am enjoying what I have right now.
Trade experts feel that 2017 is going to be an important year for you…
Yes, in the sense that I won’t have another 2017 again in my life, so I won’t trade it for anything, but will live it fully.
Really? Is that the only thing?
It feels good when people expect a lot from you. Due to that, producers are more willing to back experimental films, while audiences are more supportive. And as an actor, that makes you more confident.
You are shooting back-to-back for multiple films. This year seems rather busy for you…
It won’t be back-to-back in terms of shooting. It would be in this order — preparation, shoot, break, again preparation followed by shoot and break. I have a film with Karan Johar’s company, Chandamama Door Ke, Murlikant Petkar biopic and others, which I’ll finalise soon.
This year you completed three years in the film industry…
It has been awesome. It feels like much more than three years but only in a good way. If you are not obsessed with future and you live fully in the now, you feel awesome. So, you’re not concerned with the length of the time but the width of it. You must enjoy each and every moment.
With the MS Dhoni biopic doing so well, 2016 turned out to be a great year for you…
As an actor, I often work in self-interest. The way people like playing games, watching movies, I love acting. So, all I was concerned about was the experience of working with Neeraj (Pandey) and the process of knowing and becoming Dhoni. The commerce is for the producers to handle and fame for my PR agency (smiles).
We have heard that you plan to write a book. Is it true?
I have been asked to write a book and I’m excited about that since the book talks about nothing in particular (smiles). Also I got interested in guitars, which is like the beginning of a completely new relationship with music.
Sushant Singh, who was last seen in Neraj Pandey biopic on cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni - MS Dhoni The Untold Story, is currently working on his next Raabta, opposite Kriti Sanon.
Befikre, that starred Ranveer and Vaani Kapoor in lead roles, had a rather damp run at the domestic ticket windows.
Follow @htshowbiz for more