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Sushant had changed during the making of Kedarnath, become fragile, says Abhishek Kapoor

In an emotional interview with journalist Shoma Chaudhury, the filmmaker said it was unfair that Sushant Singh Rajput was not given any credit for the success of MS Dhoni: The Untold Story (2016).

Our Correspondent

The Hindi film industry is yet to come to terms with the suicide of actor Sushant Singh Rajput and that includes director Abhishek Kapoor, who launched him with Kai Po Che! (2013).

Rajput had few friends in the film industry and Kapoor was one of them. The filmmaker opened up about the late actor in a long and emotional video interview with journalist Shoma Chaudhury.

Kapoor said that when they were working on Kedarnath (2018), their last film together, he noticed that Rajput had changed. “He was a different person," he said. "I remember another film of his had been released and had not done well. Everybody was trashing it, but this is business.”

Rajput, however, was disturbed by the many negative articles being written about him. “When we were shooting, we would get news of such negative articles," the filmmaker recalled. "All lies. Non-stop slander was going on and he was quite disturbed by it. If you are not supported by the media or a nexus, you will have existential issues. You will lose yourself in that. But once he was in front of the camera, he was 100%.”

The director also revealed that Rajput was seeking validation for his success. “It’s unfortunate,” Kapoor said. “I used to tell him, you are already a star. Don't expect other people to validate it for you. You have to know who you are. You are a star. He would buy it for a while. But I have seen that they [artistes] look for that validation. It comes from award ceremonies, which are trash. They are terrible. Then we have social media, which is madness.”

With Amit Sadh and Rajkummar Rao in Kai Po Che!

Kapoor also slammed the working style of celebrity management firms, saying they "look at you as a commodity and sell you. They don’t even look at what kind of artiste he is, what temperament he has. You have to customize profiles on how he should be managed and marketed. He was very gentle and caring. You are going to make crores of rupees off him. At least pay attention and make a bespoke package!” Probably that was why Rajput changed managers quite a few times, he said.

Rajput died on Sunday 14 June. He hanged himself at his Bandra residence. He was only 34.

Kapoor believes it was his brilliance coupled with his fragile nature that lead to this. “He had become fragile," he said. "Sushant was brilliant. He was a topper in engineering. He was into astrophysics and quantum physics. There was something there that was genius. But as we couldn’t understand it, we started saying he is off. He is just off your radar.”

The success of MS Dhoni: The Untold Story (2016), biopic of former India cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, was attributed to Dhoni's fame rather than to the way in which Rajput portrayed him. Kapoor said that was unfair and Rajput also deserved credit. “At least people from our industry could have given him some credit," he said.

"That the film did well because of Dhoni instead of Sushant was the talk going on. If it had been some other actor, they would have even sent him to play cricket in place of Dhoni,” he added sarcastically.

With Sara Ali Khan in Kedarnath

According to Kapoor, the criticism continued after the release of Kedarnath (2018) and this also had an effect on Rajput. “The media just slammed it [the movie]," he recalled. "He could see he wasn’t getting the kind of love [he needed] because everything was said about [co-star and newcomer] Sara [Ali Khan] at that time; I don’t know. He wasn’t talking to me then. He was just lost.”

Kapoor said he tried to interact with Rajput in January by texting him on his birthday but got no reply. “I thought I should just let him be,” he said. “You cannot cross a certain line. You can meet someone halfway. If I give unsolicited advice, it will never be appreciated and it loses its value.”

Kapoor read out his last text message to Rajput: 'I am trying to reach you. I am not sure if you are upset, busy or what, but call soon when you can chat. We will soon make a film together again. If we are not going to celebrate it, who the hell is going to celebrate it? What the hell are we going to celebrate in life? So, please call me.'

Asked what advice he would give the film industry, Kapoor said, “I will ask them to be open to individuality and be more welcoming. Be generous.”