Of late, Sushant Singh Rajput has been making headlines for his upcoming film (the MS Dhoni biopic). But even as audiences give the actor a thumbs up for his cricketing avatar, his personal life (his break-up with Ankita Lokhande and reports about his relationship with Kriti Sanon) has also been in the news. The actor, however, only wants to be talked about for his films.
Do you feel you are coming into your own in Bollywood?
I am immensely proud of all the films I have done. But, for half of the time that I have been here, I have waited for movies that never got made. In that sense, I am more aware [of how to schedule my shoots] now, and have understood other nuances of film-making (smiles).
Are you now used to the jitters one feels before a film’s release?
No, I can never get used to that, because the only time. I think about the fate of a movie is just before its release. Deciding to do a film, and then preparing and shooting for it, is personal. At that time, I don’t think about who is going to watch it or what they will say. When I start working on a new project, I always want to experience new things, and feel excited about learning more. But, once the job is done, things like, “I don’t want to disappoint the money-spending audience” or “[I wonder] whether I will be hired again,” start coming to my mind.
Your personal life is in the spotlight these days...
Ideally, I should be talked about only for my films. And it’s also good for me if I only talk about my films before a film’s release, and otherwise too (smiles).
You don’t talk about your personal life, especially regarding your break-up (with Ankita)…
If some people look at my work or me, and it brings a smile to their faces, I will feel good for them. But, if they feel bad, or accuse [me for something] or are not happy with where I am, then it’s their headache. For me, excitement is synonymous with my work. That’s the only thing that concerns me.
Bollywood can be a tough place for an outsider...
There are many parameters involved. When I started out, I didn’t think that everything was going to be fair. I knew that talent and hard-work are the only requirements [you need to succeed in the industry]. There’s one basic rule — be good at whatever you do, and be professional, and you will get hired. I choose to think that way.
What was Dhoni’s reaction on seeing you as MS Dhoni?
When I showed MS Dhoni my practise videos a few days back, he watched them with a smile. He said, ‘It feels like magic, because I know I was not there.’ It meant a lot to me, given the amount of effort I’ve put into preparing for the role.
Are you nervous or excited about your new film (the MS Dhoni biopic), especially since you will be compared to the cricketer?
I know the expectations are huge, but I have done what I could do. So, there is no nervousness. I am excited about sharing this story. Neeraj (Pandey; film-maker) sir clearly told me the things I should concentrate on, and what the intent of the film is, at the very beginning. So, my preparation was exhaustive, but structured. I quickly realised that while I could act well and play good cricket [in the film], my portrayal could still not be convincing if there was no resemblance. Dhoni has a strong visual appeal. So, my complete immersion was necessary.
Was it mentally and emotionally challenging to ‘become’ Dhoni?
I was more concerned about what MS and Neeraj sir would think of my performance. The experience has been overwhelming, and I can’t wait to share it with audiences.
Are you content with the way your career has progressed so far?
I don’t have goals. There is no place that I want to arrive at. I don’t want to prove a point to anyone. I take things as they come. I have realised that I can’t control much anyway, and that I can only fervently create the illusion of controlling things. The only things I can identify are the projects that keep me going. That’s the excitement I crave for. I could fail miserably while trying out new stuff, or become the biggest superstar of this generation, but I will still be excited and curious.
Is it difficult to make friends in the film industry?
It is possible. Time, trust and mental security are the most important prerequisites to forge a good, long-lasting friendship, and it has nothing to do with the industry you work in.
Do you feel this film could be a turning point in your career?
Of course, this film is important because we’re telling the story of the most successful Indian cricket captain. We are telling every person in this country that no matter which city or social status they belong to, if they have a dream and the courage to believe [in themselves], it’s just a matter of time before they achieve their goals.
What was more challenging – perfecting the helicopter shot or understanding the ‘Captain Cool’ psyche?
I can’t compare. I did a 360-degree research — it included taking help from the script, books, Dhoni’s interviews, talking to his friends and family, and speaking to the man himself — to understand him better. This process went on till I completed the shoot. The cricket part, on the other hand, was taxing. To cultivate a new skill requires time, and then moulding it into a specific style requires practise. I trained for a year with Kiran More sir (former cricketer) and a team of physiotherapists and analysts. It was a fulfilling experience.