The actor's unfortunate demise may have overshadowed his achievements, but these are the roles that showcased his quiet, subtle craft.
Sushant Singh Rajput birth anniversary: 5 roles that define the star
Mumbai - 21 Jan 2021 9:00 IST
Sushant Singh Rajput, who was 34 years old when he died by suicide, was among the promising talents of his generation. Though he appeared in a dozen films, he had a knack for making his impressive presence felt. Subtle and charming, Rajput could blend into a multitude of characters while retaining his essence.
His tragic death, and the macabre sideshow that followed, may have taken attention away from his craft, but it can't be ignored.
On his 35th birth anniversary, we take a look at five performances that capture the versatility and charm that made Rajput such a fan favourite.
1. Kai Po Che! (2013)
A film about small-city boys with big dreams at the turn of the millennium, Kai Po Che! was a landmark film for Sushant Singh Rajput. Alongside Amit Sadh and Rajkummar Rao, Rajput managed to charm his way into the hearts of viewers as the idealistic, cricket-loving Ishaan Bhatt. Based on the best-selling novel The 3 Mistakes Of My Life by Chetan Bhagat, the buddy drama film was elevated to another level by the energy and vivacity of Rajput's character. For his role, which underpins the emotional aspect of all performances, he earned a Best Male Debut Filmfare Award nomination.
2. Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! (2015)
To take over a character as iconic as Byomkesh Bakshy takes courage. The film might not have received the approval of audiences, but it showcased Rajput's intensity and attention for detail. The role allowed the actor to step in and embellish the character with flourishes and tics. His take on the Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay creation was far more action-oriented than the iconic Rajit Kapur version. In Dibakar Banerjee's film, Byomkesh was still under construction. Rajput captures this amateur detective with his nervous energy, naivete and sincere passion.
3. MS Dhoni: The Untold Story (2016)
This was the film that launched the actor into stardom. While the film remains a hagiographic portrayal of the Indian skipper, Rajput's performance cannot be faulted. The actor captured the mannerisms, presence and personality of MS Dhoni like never before. A passionate cricket fan, the actor had the opportunity to recreate some of the most iconic moments from Indian cricket in the last decade.
Review — M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story is caught out in the second half
Yet, the did not merely bring Dhoni's technique to the big screen. It was the emotional mettle and calm that highlighted this personality change. Rajput's presence in Neeraj Pandey's film was typical of the calm, collected leadership of Dhoni's captaincy. The film remains a high point in the highlight reel of the actor's short film career.
4. Sonchiriya (2019)
Abhishek Chaubey's Chambal epic, which was set in the 1970s, is a fantastic experience. Held up by some powerful performances by Manoj Bajpayee, Ranvir Shorey and Bhumi Pednekar, the film ventured into grey areas, exploring themes such as caste, politics, power and idealism. In this film, Sushant Singh Rajput embodied this idealism and the rebellion that it births.
Sonchiriya review: Sushant Singh Rajput, Bhumi Pednekar's gripping but deadly tale
Rajput's character Lakhan Singh was a man who must choose between his cause and doing what is right. Sadly, the audiences gave the film — and Rajput's searing performance — a miss in theatres and lost out on a wonderful performance that underlined the craft of Rajput.
5. Chhichhore (2019)
To have one successful film a year is a success. For Rajput, his penultimate year saw two major successes. Nitesh Tiwari's Chhichhore was a moving coming-of-age drama that captured the highs, lows, and joys of a group of mediocre students. In an age where people seek constant success and validation, Rajput's performance as a father trying to convince his son that losing is part and parcel of life was touching. Like always, the actor played the idealist of the group, Anni, who unites everyone to attempt something beyond their reach. But it is the older version that truly captured the actor's ability. The sensitive portrayal of a father struggling to relate with his son, while trying desperately to prevent the boy from making a mistake, is moving.
Chhichhore review: Nitesh Tiwari delivers a heartwarming, entertaining gem
Ironically, Rajput fell prey to the same struggle that he was trying to prevent his on-screen son from making. It was a sober reminder of the fact that the screen does not always reveal, it also hides the struggles of actors playing their parts.
Dil Bechara (2020)
Mukesh Chhabra's directorial debut would have been one of the highlights of the actor's career. Sadly, it proved to be his last film role. A remake of the tween romance The Fault In Our Stars, the film brought to the fore the actor's sensitivity and easy charm. Playing the irrepressible Manny, Rajput was uplifting, charming and entertaining. It is quite tragic to think the actor was going through several issues of his own while putting on a smiling, happy exterior for his character.
Dil Bechara review: Bittersweet romance that will have you reaching for the tissues
Sadly, the pandemic and the actor's untimely demise meant that the film never made it to theatres. Yet, it will forever be remembered as the last appearance of a star twinkled brightly in the firmament of Hindi cinema.