At a time when Bollywood is bursting at the seams with young talent, Sushant Singh Rajput has made a mark for himself. After delivering two hit films last year — Kai Po Che and Shuddh Desi Romance — the actor has now made it to the prestigious 30 Under 30 list (he is the lead in the entertainment category) that is compiled by a reputed business magazine.
Here, he talks to us about making it to this club at the age of 27 and what it takes to deal with the money and fame that accompany his job as a Bollywood star:
How important is the money, and the luxuries that it can buy?
I won’t deny that financial freedom is very important. It gives you the freedom to make choices, to say ‘yes’ to the films you really want to do. It gives you the courage to take a risk. Also when you look around, you feel great especially when you’ve grown up in a middle-class family, but it’s extremely important that we don’t work for these things (money), if we work for passion and love, everything follows.
Among the other actors who are under 30, who do you look consider your biggest competitor?
Ranveer (Singh), Arjun (Kapoor), Ayushmann (Khurrana),Varun (Dhawan), Sidharth (Malhotra), Aditya Roy (Kapur), Rajkummar (Rao)... did I miss anyone? They all have great potential and it is also because of them that the structure of our scripts and the kind of films we are making is changing now.
Siddharth Malhotra, Sushant Singh Rajput and Varun Dhawan
There must be someone from this lot who has impressed you the most?
Then it has to be Rajkummar Rao. He’s a fabulous actor and he has achieved everything in life with sheer hard work and talent.
Who are the other achievers (in Bollywood) you look up to and want to emulate?
I would like to emulate the perfection and intelligence of Aamir (Khan), the charisma and passion of Shah Rukh Khan, Irrfan’s (Khan) skill and Hrithik’s (Roshan) decision. And there are so many other things that inspire me.
Many feel that among the young actors, you are the most promising one. Are you aware of this expectation people have of you?
Yes, I am. And I feel excited every time I hear it. To make a promise is a good start, but to keep that promise is the most exciting and challenging part… and that starts now.
How does it feel to have topped the Forbes India 30 Under 30 list this early in your career?
I am really excited. I recently saw Shah Rukh Khan on the cover (of this magazine) as he had topped India’s most powerful celebrity list and I was wondering what it would be like to feature in one such list. Then very quickly, I stopped entertaining that idea thinking that it would take me many more years. But this is a great validation for me to keep working hard and dreaming big.
Does this put any kind of pressure on you?
No, why would it? On the contrary, such things only encourage you. You realise that it doesn't matter whether you are from the industry or not. If you are absolutely certain, you can achieve your potential.
It must feel good to know that you’re on the right path now?
It has definitely reinforced my beliefs. But I have a long way to go. All our conditioning has made us extra careful; we’re always told not to be different and not to make mistakes. But I would rather make big mistakes and fail miserably, than work for mediocre success.