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Thursday, Nov 14, 2019

HT Brunch cover story: Back to college with Sushant Singh Rajput!

The actor had listed out 50 dreams of his on Instagram last month. We decided to make one come true!

brunch Updated: Oct 27, 2019 00:43 IST
Lubna Salim
Lubna Salim
Hindustan Times
Location: Delhi Technological University, Rohini, New Delhi; Make-up: Nikita Thadani (Fat Mu); Hair: Basheer (Haakim Aalim); Production: Ashutosh Chittodia; On Sushant Singh Rajput: Jacket, Jack & Jones; T-shirt, Aura Hub; cargos, Superdry; sneakers, Nike; watch, Samsung GalaxyS10
Location: Delhi Technological University, Rohini, New Delhi; Make-up: Nikita Thadani (Fat Mu); Hair: Basheer (Haakim Aalim); Production: Ashutosh Chittodia; On Sushant Singh Rajput: Jacket, Jack & Jones; T-shirt, Aura Hub; cargos, Superdry; sneakers, Nike; watch, Samsung GalaxyS10(Prabhat Shetty)
         

On September 14 this year, actor Sushant Singh Rajput posted hand-written lists titled ‘My 50 dreams & counting...!’ on his Insta handle. Fifty is a lot of dreams; at least one of them should come true, we thought. So, we scanned the list and then worked to give the actor one of his dreams on a platter: a visit to his old college, Delhi Technological University in Rohini.

“The whole point of working and earning is to nurse and realise your dreams. Isn’t it?”

Sushant, 33, is a Delhi boy, who went to Kulachi Hansraj Model School in New Delhi and Delhi College of Engineering (now Delhi Technological University) and during his final year moved to Mumbai to pursue acting.

To set the ball rolling, my colleague Ashutosh got in touch with the University’s Vice Chancellor. He was directed to Executive Engineer Bimal Jain, who first thought we were joking, and then, called both of us to the college for a meeting.

While enjoying an aloo paratha in the open-air canteen at the Delhi Technological University, the actor asks for “Maggi baba”, the popular college icon from his time
While enjoying an aloo paratha in the open-air canteen at the Delhi Technological University, the actor asks for “Maggi baba”, the popular college icon from his time ( Prabhat Shetty )

With all details and optimism packed neatly into our heads, Ashutosh and I got to DTU and waited for Mr Jain in his office. An hour later we were asked to move to another room, where officials interrogated us on our POA. After another hour of persuasion and assurances we got a go-ahead for our shoot on Sunday morning (September 29). We even secured a special entry pass for the Mechanical Engineering block to ensure our actor drove straight to his department without having to stop midway. It was worth the wait, we thought, and organised a vanity van and three security guards.

Campus calling

D-Day has arrived and it is overcast at 7am. Thankfully, the sun shines extra bright (almost Bollywood style) as Sushant drives in with his team at 11am.

“I was always a back-bencher. In fact, I was seen less in the classrooms and more in the canteen”

Super excited about returning to his alma mater, Sushant neither conceals himself inside the vanity van, nor behind caps and shades, and instead starts to walk inside the campus, shaking hands with the guards and wishing luck to students waiting to get into examination halls.

“Dreams are meant to be dreamt, dreamers are actually doers. Usually when we remember the why of our dreams, the hows take care of themselves,” smiles the actor as we walk to his classroom for our first shot, locking doors behind us to prevent the now increasing number of students dying to get a glimpse of the actor.

Jacket, Jack & Jones; T-shirt, Aura Hub; cargos, Superdry; sneakers, Nike; watch, Samsung Galaxy S10
Jacket, Jack & Jones; T-shirt, Aura Hub; cargos, Superdry; sneakers, Nike; watch, Samsung Galaxy S10 ( Prabhat Shetty )

“I was always a back-bencher. In fact, I was seen less in the classrooms and more in the canteen,” he confesses endearingly as we head to his once favourite hangout.

What kind of a student was he? “In my opinion, the best kind but possibly a rebel with a cause according to my teachers and friends alike,” he laughs and tells how he attended lots of shaadis of people who didn’t even know him, “engineering my ways not to be caught.”

“Dreams are meant to be dreamt, dreamers are actually doers”

We finally get to the open-air canteen, accompanied by a huge group of students. The photographer cleverly asks the students to pose with the actor for the shot. They do and Sushant hops straight to the canteen kitchen to dry his now sweaty clothes and face beneath the wall-mounted fan. We order his favourite parathas, burgers and cutting chai, and the actor chats with the canteen manager.

“Where’s Maggi baba (the guy who sells Maggi)?” he asks and the students who are hovering around him explain that he comes in the evening.

Home sweet college

Smses and WhatsApp messages truly spread faster than wildfire in the 21st century. Now we see a huge troop of students rushing towards us, all armed with cellphone cameras. Even though the actor is keen to walk around, we get him into the car and ask to be ferried to the library for our third shot, calling for more security guards in the interim.

On October 8, the actor went to Disneyland, Paris to fulfil one of his 50 dreams
On October 8, the actor went to Disneyland, Paris to fulfil one of his 50 dreams ( Pic provided to HT Brunch by SUSHANT SINGH RAJPUT )

Between the shots, the unapologetic nerd in me cannot help question what Sushant would say to one of the professors, who’d wanted to see him at the shoot, and told us the actor had dropped out in fourth year – to follow up his career choice? “I’d say the same thing I said then – is there a procedure to get the degree without taking the test!” Sushant chuckles.

On September 25, he visited the European organisation for nuclear research (CERN), Geneva, where he fulfilled his dream of seeing the world’s most powerful particle accelerator and the largest machine in the world, called the Large Hadron Collider
On September 25, he visited the European organisation for nuclear research (CERN), Geneva, where he fulfilled his dream of seeing the world’s most powerful particle accelerator and the largest machine in the world, called the Large Hadron Collider ( Pic provided to HT Brunch by SUSHANT SINGH RAJPUT )

Alas! We are mobbed as soon as we step out. Sushant manages to make it into his car and we decide to call it a day. The actor, however, is super happy. After all, so much respect, love and adoration can floor anyone!

“A lot of memories came alive, especially since I was seduced by them while working in Chhichhore. I’m overwhelmed by the love I got from the professors and students here. I would like to thank HT Brunch for helping me realise this dream,” says the actor.

Daring to dream

Sushant says this visit to his old campus rekindled the child in him – just as he had wanted when he wrote his 50 dreams.

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“In today’s fast-moving world where everything is gunning for our attention, it is extremely important to take care of ourselves and be focused with an excitement to flourish at the same time. I remembered the eight-year-old kid in me and started from there.”

And no, he’s not taking a break from work to do this. Acting itself is one of the dreams he’s pursuing, and he intends to fulfil most of his 50 dreams within six months.

“Psychologists have said the only difference between humans and animals is the cortex (simulator of dreams). The whole point of working and earning is to nurse and realise your dreams. I thought this is a great way to live my life to its fullest and motivate children to do the same!” says Sushant, who packed his bags for Disneyland, Paris, after reliving his student days in DTU.

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Why the Disneyland in Paris, rather than any of the ones in California, Florida or Hong Kong? “Since I love Disneyland and Paris with equal vigour, it made sense to realise the two dreams together!” he explains, and recalls how, while growing up, he had wanted to earn so he could visit these places. “So here I am today, spending my heard-earned money on my most heart-felt dreams,” he says.

While Disneyland made him smile like an eight-year-old, Sushant’s visit to CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, that operates the largest particle physics lab in the world, highlighted the potential of dreaming big and “reminded me that the sky is the limit (literally). I went in as a normal tourist, but luckily the scientists were kind enough to indulge me,” he says.

Despite being a Sunday, hundreds of students heard of the actor’s presence on campus, and news of the HT Brunch-orchestrated visit made it to local tabloids
Despite being a Sunday, hundreds of students heard of the actor’s presence on campus, and news of the HT Brunch-orchestrated visit made it to local tabloids

But he refrains from picking his favourite dreams from the list. “It’s difficult to choose as they’re all mine! The idea of dreaming 50 at a time and jotting them down was to encourage myself to dream some more, and for kids to draw motivation from this.”

However, he shares the ones closest to his heart – training for the Ironman Triathlon race, getting a flying license and mediating in the Kailash.

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Apart from the dreams he has discussed with us so far, Sushant has performed experiments on cymatics. “It’s the study of sound that’s explained in our Vedic culture as nada brahma. I performed it to realise how everything is literally connected,” he says. Diving in the Blue Hole too has now been ticked off his 50 dreams list!

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From HT Brunch, October 27, 2019

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