‘Sushant Singh Rajput cried a lot when he found out Paani has been shelved, we both did’: Shekhar Kapur
Filmmaker Shekhar Kapur, who was to work with Sushant Singh Rajput in his ambitious directorial venture Paani, said that he must be remembered for his films and performances. He added that the actor must not be reduced to ‘a million theories of why he killed himself’ or ‘a man who was depressed’.
“I think part of us loves drama. Because we are in the movie business and any business that has a high profile, people look for drama. Right now, we are going through the phase where everybody is talking, it is dramatic. I am hoping that the ‘dramaticness’ of it all will go away… We are short-term attention span people. This is what social media has made us. Gone are the days when the mind was settled but hopefully, in Sushant’s case, the mind will settle and when it settles, we will watch his films again and again and we will understand what he brought to this business,” he said in an Instagram live with Manoj Bajpayee.
Shekhar opened up about his experience of collaborating with Sushant on Paani. After months of prep, the film was shelved due to the producers Yash Raj Films backing out of the project. Shekhar said that when he met Sushant for the first time, it was ‘like meeting a child’.
“He was bouncing up and down, so excited that he was going to work with me and do Paani. The great thing about Sushant that I noticed was that acting did not stop with rehearsing the lines or reading the script or doing the movements. His interest went way beyond... Every time I had a meeting with the production designer or the DOP or VFX team, he was there,” the filmmaker said.
Shekhar said that Sushant was fully immersed in the character from Paani, Gora, and would call at 2 or 3 in the night or come over to discuss the smallest details. The filmmaker said that it became an ‘addiction’ for him.
During the three months of prep, Shekhar ‘kind of fell in love with’ Sushant. He said that the actor was heartbroken when the film was shelved.
“Jab film bandh ho gayi and he realised he wasn’t doing the film, bohot roya woh. Main bhi roya. Woh rota tha toh main bhi rota tha saath-saath because I was also passionately and deeply involved with it. Humari zindagiyaan hi kuch aisi hoti hai - ups and downs. Aur yeh jo lafz hai - depression… Aisa nahi hai main keh raha hoon ki depression nahi hoti, main aisa keh raha hoon ki depression ek lafz hai jiske saath hum khel lete hai (When the film was shelved and he realised he wasn’t doing the film, he cried a lot. I cried too. I would cry every time he cried because I was also passionately and deeply involved with it. Our lives are full of ups and downs. This term - ‘depression’... I am not saying that depression does not exist, I am saying that we play with depression). As creative people, it is an emotion that we play with,” he said.
Shekhar shared that during the making of Bandit Queen, he would go into a room and shout at the top of his voice to vent out his emotions, and then watch the edit. “During the shoot, I was angry. I don’t want to be angry when I am watching the edit, otherwise how can I judge? Those are the kind of lives we lead. We push ourselves. Sushant would always push himself in every little way. Every cell of his would be involved. How can you come out of that easily? You can’t!,” he said.
Manoj asked Shekhar what was troubling him about Sushant’s death, to which he said, “Pareshaan toh wohi cheez kar rahi hai, jo maine nahi kiya (I am troubled about the things that I didn’t do).”
“Paani, producers ne kaha, ‘Hum nahi banayenge Sushant ke saath. Paani nahi banegi.’ Kuch aur film koshish karke bana leta, woh nahi kiya. Main bahar chale gaya Hindustan se. Gussa, naraaz ho gaya (The producers said, ‘We will not make Paani with Sushant. Paani will not be made.’ I should have tried to make another film with him, which I didn’t. I left India as I was angry and upset),” he said.
Shekhar said another thing that bothers him is the fact that he did not call or visit Sushant in the last six months. He said that even if they were not discussing a film, they could talk about so many things, whether it was quantum physics or anything else.
Manoj pointed out that Sushant’s death has left people very angry and asked Shekhar why that is. “The anger is coming from the recognition of people like you who are now showing to the world that stardom the way we imagine, woh asli stardom nahi hai (that is not real stardom). Gussa isliye aa raha hai, ki baaki logon ko kyun nahi phir chance mila (People are angry because why did others not get a chance),” he replied.
The common people strongly identified with Sushant and his journey, Manoj said. “Kahin na kahin gussa jo aam junta ko aa raha hai, kyunki Sushant mein unko ek aisa hero dikha tha jo unke beech se aaya tha. Suddenly unko lag raha hai ki unka jo representation tha, jo kahin na kahin unko ek hope de raha tha ki unke beech ka ladka agar itni door jaata hai, toh unke liye bhi hope hai (Somewhere, the people are angry because they saw in Sushant a hero who was one of them. Suddenly, they have lost that representation. He gave everyone hope that if he could come from humble beginnings and make it big, then others could, too),” the actor said.
“Sushant ka achanak iss tarah se chale jaana kahin na kahin iss baat se woh bohot zyada rooth gaye hai (Somewhere, they are upset because of the way Sushant suddenly left). The anger is also a way of emoting and grieving, a way of showing their own loss,” he added.
If you need support or know someone who does, please reach out to your nearest mental health specialist. Helplines: Aasra: 022 2754 6669; Sneha India Foundation: +914424640050 and Sanjivini: 011-24311918
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