Actor Sushant Singh Rajput (34) was found dead at his Bandra residence in Mumbai on Sunday. He died by suspected suicide.
According to Mumbai Police officials, he died between 10 am and 1 pm, and there was no suicide note.
Since the lockdown was imposed in March, Rajput had been living in his apartment with two cooks, a house help and his manager. “His cook told us that after waking up around 10 am, he drank a glass of juice before going back to his bedroom. When one of the cooks went to ask what he would like to eat, he found the door locked. When he did not open the door for a long time, which was unusual, the four tried calling him. But he did not respond. After two hours, they reached out to his sister in Goregaon,” said a police officer, requesting anonymity.
The sister too could not reach Rajput, and while she was on her way to his house, the others called a keymaker and opened the bedroom door to find him hanging.
Sushant Singh Rajput’s death comes days after his former manager, Disha Salian, died by suicide by jumping off a multi-storey building in Malad on June 9.
As news about his death broke, tributes poured in from co-stars, directors and friends. In a tweet, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “A bright young actor gone too soon… His rise in the world of entertainment inspired many and he leaves behind several memorable performances.”
The BMC issued a statement saying Rajput’s body had been brought to the emergency of Cooper Hospital, Vile Parle, at around 3:30 pm. “The medical officer declared the actor dead at around 4 pm. After completing the paperwork, the body was handed over to the Mumbai Police. The autopsy is expected to be completed by late tonight.”
The only son and youngest among five siblings, Sushant Singh Rajput was born in Patna in 1986. He was particularly close to his mother, and after her untimely demise from brain haemorrhage in 2002, the family moved to Delhi.
Rajput was a diligent student and pursued a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at Delhi Technological University (formerly Delhi College of Engineering). While he was a student there, Rajput enrolled in Shiamak Davar’s dance classes as well as Barry John’s acting classes.
“He was a student at our acting school but for a brief time. He did a part-time three-month course with us. I remember him as a bright, lively and handsome man with a lot of potential,” John told The Indian Express.
Davar saw a similar spark in him, Rajput had said in interviews, and though he wasn’t the best dancer, placed him in the front. In fact, dance gave him his first brush with fame, with Rajput travelling with Davar’s troupe to perform at the Filmfare Awards in 2005, where he danced with Aishwarya Rai.
Soon, he dropped out of college to pursue his dream to be on stage, this time as an actor.
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Like many aspiring actors, he first joined a theatre group, Ekjute run by Nadira Babbar. “With us, he did the play Pukar and Romeo and Juliet. Even after he started doing films and became a celebrity, he stayed in touch. He was well brought up, a nice, decent and simple person. If he ever saw me, he would touch my feet. He was family to us,” Babbar said.
Sushant Singh Rajput spent nearly three years with Ekjute before he was cast by Ektaa Kapoor in two soaps – Kis Desh Mein Hai Meraa Dil and Pavitra Rishta. He achieved immense popularity. His appearances in dance competition shows such as Zara Nachke Dikha 2 and Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa 4 in 2010 also signalled to Bollywood that he was ready for them.
In 2013, Rajput made his Bollywood debut in Abhishek Kapoor’s Kai Po Che!, which made both critics and audiences sit up and note his easy charm and likeable screen presence. It was the start of a career that boasted of praised performances in films such as Shuddh Desi Romance (2013), Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! (2015), and a career-best turn as MS Dhoni in 2016’s MS Dhoni: The Untold Story.
The mood in Patna was sombre on Sunday as locals gathered outside Rajput’s family house in Rajiv Nagar. Former Madhepura MP Pappu Yadav, who knows the family well, said, “Sushant was the pride of Bihar. We all are too shocked to react.”
In Bandra, fans gathered outside Rajput’s apartment building. “I have been watching his films since I saw him play MS Dhoni,” Arun Yadav, who kept vigil with a friend, said. “We want to see him one last time.”
Last year, Sushant Singh Rajput had two big-screen releases, the critically-acclaimed Sonchiriya, and the popular hit Chhichhore; Drive, a film produced by Karan Johar, went straight to Netflix. He is due to appear this year in Dil Bechara, a Bollywood adaptation of John Green’s bestselling novel The Fault in Our Stars, in what would be his last screen appearance.
—With inputs from Dipanita Nath and Santosh Singh in Patna
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