Sushant Singh Rajput passes away at 34: TV industry colleagues remember the Pavitra Rishta star
Sushant Singh Rajput had been a hugely popular television actor, in shows like Kis Desh Mein Hai Meraa Dil and Pavitra Rishta. His successful turn as the male protagonist Manav in Pavitra Rishta, a Balaji Telefilms show, spurred appearances in celebrity dance reality contests and then a commendable career in Bollywood.
Hindi film and television actor Sushant Singh Rajput has passed away aged 34 in Mumbai on 14 June 2020. A spokesperson from the Mumbai Police said that the cause of death was suicide.
Amid the outpouring of grief on social media from the actor's many fans, public figures and showbiz insiders, his colleagues from the television industry expressed grief and shock over the loss.
Sushant had been a hugely popular television actor, in shows like Kis Desh Mein Hai Meraa Dil and Pavitra Rishta. His successful turn as the male protagonist Manav in Pavitra Rishta, a Balaji Telefilms show, spurred appearances in celebrity dance reality contests and then a commendable career in Bollywood.
Filmmaker and choreographer Remo D’Souza remembered the feeling on the sets of Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa — Sushant’s last major television show before he transitioned to films — that the actor would make it big in the movies. “He was a star on the stage,” D’Souza says. “We used to have a lot of conversations about his dance. The last time we spoke was on the sets of Just Dance, where he had come to promote his film Chhichhore. He joked with me saying ‘You make dance films and you haven’t cast me even though I’m a good dancer’. Sushant laughed and said that he should be in my next dance film to which I responded that I had no intention of stopping [making dance films] and that maybe we’d work together. This is just shocking.”
His peers in the TV industry recalled the actor as “happy-go-lucky”, “always smiling and fooling around,” according to Hiten Tejwani. “He may have left Pavitra Rishta to do films but he still visited us on the sets of the show to tell us which movies he had signed or what was going on in his career,” Tejwani says. “I don’t know what he was going through that made him take such a drastic step... We weren’t in touch every day but we have worked together and would keep meeting, being part of the same industry. I’m yet to come to terms with the news.”
Another Pavitra Rishta co-star, veteran actress Usha Nadkarni played Sushant’s onscreen mother in the serial. At the time that they started work on Pavitra Rishta, the young actor had lost his mother, and Nadkarni says Sushant took to calling her “Aai” like others on set, discussing his family and dreams for the future. Sometimes, Sushant’s father and sister would visit him on the sets, Nadkarni recalls.
Nadkarni received the news of Sushant’s passing through her hairdresser at Balaji Telefilms, but initially brushed it off as a hoax or misunderstanding. “I told her, ‘Koni dusra asel (It must be someone else)’. He achieved everything he dreamed of during those Pavitra Rishta days,” Nadkarni says. “The apartment, cars, Bollywood stardom — all of which he accomplished through his own hard work and through God’s blessings. So I can’t understand what has happened…”
Sushant’s death comes close on the heels of his former manager Disha Salian's demise and for those who knew them both, the twin losses have been especially difficult to come to terms with. Krushna Abhishek had some appearances alongside Sushant on Comedy Circus and The Kapil Sharma Show, and remembered sitting with Disha, who had been his friend for many years, and Sushant, when the duo were promoting the film Sonchiriya. Abhishek says he pointed out to them at the time that each had achieved their dreams — Disha of managing a top Bollywood actor and Sushant of being a movie star.
“Now both of them are no more and I can’t understand what has happened…” Abhishek says, echoing the sentiment of so many of Sushant’s peers. “A few months ago we were together at a party at Salman Khan’s Panvel house and were supposed to meet up again. But we didn’t and over the past four months, he stopped replying to messages. Today I found out that he had passed away.”
A list of working suicide prevention helpline numbers in India is available here. Please reach out if you or anyone you know is in need of support. The All-India helpline number is: 022 2754 6669
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