June 16, 2020 4:05:20 am
The siren call of showbiz is strong and it draws an endless stream of young hopefuls to it, like moth to flame, even when so few emerge on the other side. It becomes doubly difficult when you are a rank outsider. Sushant Singh Rajput, whose untimely death is being widely mourned, managed not only to break big into the movies, but to achieve what all aspirants hanker after: Fame, popularity, stardom.
Like any other industry, Bollywood has its rules. Star-kids get an easy pass into exciting offers from established studios, with nothing other than lineage to recommend them. For outsiders like Sushant, those gatekeepers could have been a formidable barrier, but he came riding on a massive wave of popularity: In the glut of a hundred serials which looked and sounded the same, Sushant stood out. He already had a huge fan club before Bollywood took him in, and they stayed fiercely loyal. In his debut 2013 feature, Kai Po Che, Sushant was one of three leading men (the other two were Rajkummar Rao and Amit Sadh). Within a couple of years, he was the solo lead in two Yashraj films: Contemporary rom com Shuddh Desi Romance, and period saga Byomkesh Bakshy!. His authentic playing of M S Dhoni in Neeraj Pandey’s bio-pic Dhoni, won him plaudits. A couple of below par performances in less than average films did not dim his light.
Sushant wasn’t the first to traverse this path of Delhi professional college-TV serials-movies. A quarter century back, another “outsider”, Shah Rukh Khan, had pioneered the track. Would Sushant have reached the same dizzying heights as SRK? We will never know. What we do know is that fame is a tricky mistress. One moment you are up, the next, out. And that some outsiders never become insiders. They are shown around inside, but never offered a seat. Amongst his last films was Nitesh Tiwari’s Chhichhore, about a young man who is shown that dying is not the only option. Living is, too. In the kind of irony only the movies are capable of, Sushant chose not to.
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