Three years back, Sushant Singh Rajput made everyone sit up and take notice of him in Kai Po Che (2013). Ever since, he has gone on to become one of the most versatile actors among the younger lot in Bollywood. As he completes three years in B-Town, we chat with the actor about his journey, and why people compare his shift from TV to films with Shah Rukh Khan’s.
Do you think the last three years have gone by very fast?
Not really, I remember most of it. Five years back, everything that is happening to me now was a far-fetched dream. I worked hard to achieve my dreams; like a maniac. So, now when I am living my dream, every moment seems precious and memorable.
Before you, only Shah Rukh Khan had made a successful transition from TV to films. Did that play on your mind?
Absolutely. When I started out, even if I used to forget about it, everyone around me would remind me that it was impossible to repeat history. But, I think that if you can somehow cultivate absolute certainty [about what you want to do], then you are on a good wicket. If your job is your passion, and you have unshakable belief in your skills, then hard work and luck will take care of everything.
You don’t seem to be in a hurry when it comes to signing films. Is that a planned move?
It’s definitely deliberate. The number of movies I do has very little meaning for me. I am not in a hurry to prove any point or make money, as that only adds to your stress levels. Why should I be miserable when I have got more than what I have asked for? There is no race. As they say, “At the end of the day, even if you win the rat race, you’re still a rat (laughs).”
You don’t have a godfather. You’re not part of a clique. Does that make life easier or difficult?
It’s easier. When you don’t make it big, you just have yourself to blame. And when you succeed, you don’t have to share the credit with anybody. Over a period of time, having a godfather doesn’t matter. It all comes down to your passion, purpose and choices.
Are you satisfied with the way things have turned out for you?
I guess this is how things were meant to be. So, I have no regrets whatsoever. Whatever I am today and whatever I am thinking of doing in the future is the collective result of my achievements and mistakes; I love them equally. But with the experiences I have had, I’ve also realised that honesty and the sheer resolve of standing by your word is very rare. But this is how I will always be. I will follow the same path till the time I work.
Have you gotten used to the fame that comes with being a film star?
You feel great when people appreciate you. I use all the goodwill and appreciation as my motivating factor. Also, I have developed a kind of Teflon coating (laughs) for unnecessary and baseless criticism. So, I am flying high in my head right now, and am loving the attention.
Are there any side effects of being a big-screen actor?
There are side effects of both kinds — good and bad. You get extra zeroes in your pay cheques and opportunities to develop various skills for the movies that you do, so that’s good. But there is very little room to be complacent. And, with the change in cinema, hopefully, there’s less space for mediocrity too. There is also a difference in the risk involved as well as the preparation and the planning [films require in comparison to TV].
Is it empowering or burdensome to be famous?
When the eyes are on me with expectations, I work hard not to disappoint people. But, when they are on me with curiosity, I would definitely — and pleasantly — surprise them. And when they are on me to see my fall, I have just one thing to say, “Don’t waste your time, you will be disappointed (smiles).”
Are you happy, unaffected or unhappy about the increased interest in your personal life now?
I am happy when they mean well, but indifferent otherwise.
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