I am not future obsessed - Sushant Singh Rajput | Exclusive Interview

While most of his contemporaries are busy running the multiple crore club race, Sushant Singh Rajput is carving a niche for himself. The 31-year-old is in a league of his own, miles away from the BO number game. He is focussed, determined and a storyteller in his own right. With multiple interesting projects in his kitty, Sushant (or SSR as he is called) is clearly the rising superstar of Bollywood. On a busy weekday evening, we caught up with SSR in between a hectic day of promotions. The actor, dressed in relaxed casuals, has been busy with multiple promotional activities for his upcoming romantic - drama Raabta, where he will be seen essaying two completely different characters. In fact, during the conversation, he confessed to have had goosebumps while talking about the experience of working on this film. Leaving the unnecessary controversies aside, we settled down for a relaxed chat with the talented actor. Excerpts from our tete-a-tete: 

Was it a challenge to essay two completely different characters in the same film? 
See, I am being very honest with you. I find myself very boring. There are times when I hangout with my friends, where a house party is going on and suddenly I become very interesting with all my guy friends. But, the next morning, I am back to being my boring self again. So, that few seconds of my exciting self was this first character, the contemporary one. So, I could be the exciting version of myself in those 3-4 months and I get paid for it, which was a good thing (smiles). Then, I had a short gap for 3-4 months to prepare for my next character. However, there was no reference for it. He is so animalistic. This character is wired with the most fundamental basic wiring that we are all made of – survival. He would kill or get killed.  That's how he operates. Suddenly, in those 20 minutes, I have to prove I am like that and show that I am being put in a situation, where I am dealing with these emotions for the first time. Something that I have never dealt with and stuff that changes many things without completely drastically changing myself. He is suddenly becoming human. The character was filled with aspects and situations that I have personally not dealt with. Honestly, I didn’t know how to do it. I didn’t know how to fight like somebody who would be known for his fighting skills. The mannerisms, voice; everything was so different. It was quite a challenge.

In your career so far, you have opted for unconventional films and roles. How do you approach such characters or prepare for it? 
Acting is a very delicate job. I have to convince you that I am somebody else. You know I am not Dhoni or Byomkesh, but because you are playing someone for that 2 - 3 hours, I have to create an illusion for you that I am somebody else. In a film like Raabta, it gets much more trickier. Just when I have made you believe that I am someone like Shiv, in the next 20 minutes I have convince you again that I am somebody else too. Hence, in the same time span, I have to use all my tools and skills as an actor to make sure that there is not an iota of similarity between the two characters. So, that’s what I have tried to do in this film.

My character (Raabta) was filled with aspects and situations that I have personally not dealt with

Fan Question

The film is a modern take on reincarnation. Basically, what we are trying to portray is - if there is something called as pure love, it doesn’t dilute with time. So, be it one life or multiple lives. Even if you don’t remember what happened in the previous life, you have a tendency to get close to someone without any reason. You just don’t like somebody without any reason. At the same time, during flashback, you would see everything that is there in those 20 – 24 minutes. The world, those people; everything we see and are dealing with in that world has been created from scratch. Both the characters that I essay in this film talk and behave differently. In the same way, there is no similarity between the past life and the present life. But, if you look through things, still, everything is connected. 

Portraying a demanding character on screen tends to leave an actor exhausted. You have essayed two such characters in your latest film. Did the process get physically taxing? 
It is always physically taxing, because you almost give close to 8-9 months of your life playing a certain character. You are thinking in a different way and also changing the pattern of your thinking. It is definitely a exhausting process. However, things have been slightly different for me. In the initial 19-20 years of my life, before I started doing theatre, I realised that I act like a certain person. When I talk to you, I have a certain perception of myself and I act according to that. So, it just started getting quite boring. I thought, this is just one kind of acting that I have been doing. So, let me act like two - three different personalities every year and get paid. So, I started acting (laughs). See, it does get taxing. But, having said that, there are skills that you need to develop for each and every film. Like in Dhoni, it was cricket. In my next film, I go to Nasa and almost become an astronaut. Its just that I wont land on the moon (smiles).

Acting is a very delicate job. I have to convince you that I am somebody else

Was there any specific training that you had to go through, especially for your second character? 
One of the skills I had to develop was Martial Arts. That's primarily because just before my character is introduced in the film, during the flashback, the audience (and characters in the film) are introduced to the other guy, who is established because of his fighting skills. I have 50 – 60 seconds in the film to prove that I am such a great fighter. So, we had to ensure the skills were next level. We went to Bangkok and stayed there for a month. Everyday, I went through 12 hours of weapon training.. Let me tell you that I have already had a basic training in martial arts much before I started doing TV, but I never got the chance to show it. But, despite the basic training, we were investing 12 hours everyday for month. Just for those 50 seconds, where we have to create the illusion that the story you have been told is right and he is a good fighter.

Fan Question

Of course, it has to be the story. I think the most important thing is, there should be something I should not completely comprehend or understand. Hence, in order to understand that, I will do the film. If I already know how to do it, I will never do it. No matter how commercially viable the film is, I will not touch it. I will give you an example for it. So, when MS Dhoni released, I had three films back to back. I was suppose to shoot for it immediately, but for some reason, the film (Paani) that I was suppose to shoot for right after Dhoni’s release didn’t start. I had already prepared for close to 10 months for this film. Suddenly, I had a gap of 3-4 months in between. During this period, many filmmakers, including some who I really wanted to work with, came with their scripts. Somehow, those scripts were not appealing to me. Something was missing.. I knew that I couldn’t do it, so I didn’t do it. Also, I was preparing for a play. I could have done any of those films and probably there was 50-50% chances of them being successful. Plus, I would have definitely got a pay cheque for it which would have been huge. Saying no to that for a play, which nobody has seen till now, just tells me something about myself. The very fact that I need those 3-4 months of excitement where I should not know how to do things and I just try to figure it out. You see, the process has to be exciting. So, this is one thing I definitely want in a script to say yes to it. If you see all those films that I have signed, and the 4-5 other projects that are coming up after this, there is something that will make you wanna ask - how will he do it? That is exactly what I would like to ask myself. And, that is why I am doing it (smiles).

In my next film, I go to Nasa and almost become an astronaut. Its just that I won't land on the moon 

Many actors continue to dread the arrival of Friday, which marks the day of their film's release. What is your state of mind during the opening weekend of your film?
Well, I have worked very hard for all the 54 characters that I have essayed, which includes the ones from both theatre and films. Now, if you look at my films. For Byomkesh... I had worked a lot. The d-day arrived, it didn't get a good opening. Weekend was miserable. By Monday, I was completely okay. I wasn't even forcing myself to act normal. For MS Dhoni too, I had worked hard. The film got a fantastic opening, and continued to do well during the weekend. But, it was the same feeling on Monday again. Ideally, I should have been flipping, but I was very normal. So, I cannot let these 2-3 days of spike affect the 7-8 months that I have invested in a film. I am not future obsessed at all. I don't think about Friday, because I know I am gonna be normal by Monday. But, during those 7-8 months of hard work, if I don't get something right, I can't sleep. It's not that I have to prove a point to something or someone, it's just very personal. So, I am always very concerned about the process.

What is that one thing you love about being a star? 
Honestly, I don't look at it that way. People may look at me as a star if I have given a hit today. Tomorrow, if two films don't do well, they may not consider me a star. So, people's perception keeps changing. In my head, the day when I dropped out of my college in the third year, despite knowing it was a premiere institution and I could have stayed there for another year to earn a degree. But, I didn't do that. Somehow, I mustered up the courage to drop out. I went on to dance behind Aishwarya Rai and Shahid Kapoor, which made me very happy. So, the day I decided to follow my dream and do something that I really wanted to do, I was a star. From that day in 2006 to now, there is not a single day where I have regretted my decision. I have enjoyed every day of my life and enjoyed being a superstar (smiles).

I cannot let these 2-3 days of spike (opening weekend at BO) affect the 7-8 months that I have invested in a film

You have a great connect with your fans, especially with frequent chats on social media platforms. 
I was a big fan of Shah Rukh Khan, and I still am. He is the only actor whose autograph I always wanted. When I came to Mumbai, I went to the sets of Swades, just to get an autograph from him, which was an unsuccessful attempt. Due to some reason, I couldn't meet him and felt very bad about it. Few years later, while performing at an award function as a background dancer, we were at technical rehearsals. Shah Rukh was there and suddenly, he just turned. I said hi, to which he replied with a 'Hi'. Now, he normally says 'Hi' to ten thousand people everyday. But, it was such a big deal for me, that even ten years later, I am telling you this story (smiles). So, I know the importance of just looking at a fan for an extra second, waving at them, or probably writing down something. I make sure I do this, just so that they have something that they can talk about. 

From a student at DCE to venturing into an unknown territory, that of acting, how would you look back at your journey so far?
I was a good student, and got quite a few scholarship offers from international universities to study there. It does guarantee you a certain amount of money per annum and all other perks, but not a job security. So, you have to slog. Every time I used to work for that kind of money, I would end up slogging, but never liked the feeling. But, when I was in my first year, I started dancing with the Shiamak Davar Dance Company. I was dancing behind all the stars, and although I knew nobody was looking at me, I quite liked the feeling. Then, Shiamak asked me to join theatre. Till then, I was a very shy, introvert guy. The first time when I was on stage, and saw people getting affected by my act, I felt very powerful. It was a magical feeling. The very fact that they connect with what I am saying is a feeling I experienced for the first time in nineteen years. That is something that has stayed with me since 2006. Nothing has changed. So, the feeling of working on a character like Dhoni is very similar to when I started out doing Shakespeare back then. The excitement is still the same.

(With inputs from Priya Adivarekar)

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  1. Hey +Priya Adivarekar I found this interview very interesting. Did not know that Sushant Singh is a very different and a modest person. Nice! Looking forward to reading more cool interviews from you. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you for the kind words, Renu!
      Glad you liked the interview. It's all about a great team effort :)

  2. Hey +Priya Adivarekar I found this interview very interesting. Did not know that Sushant Singh is a very different and a modest person. Nice! Looking forward to reading more cool interviews from you. Thanks for sharing!

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Priya Adivarekar

Priya Adivarekar - Founder and Creative Director at Diary of a Dancebee. She is also a renowned Voice Actress and award winning artiste, with serious passion for dance. When not working round the clock, she can be seen reading, enjoying a movie-binge or listening to music.
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