A Flying Start


A series of happy coincidences later, actor Sushant Singh Rajput's film career seems to be on the right track.

When Sushant Singh Rajput quit the popular television show Pavitra Rishta, his co-star (also his girlfriend) Ankita Lokhande was extremely worried for him. She had a reason. After all, Manav and Archana, their on-screen characters, had become very popular with Indian television viewers. "She kept asking me why I am doing this without any backing from anyone. I told her, if not anything, I would run a canteen at Film City and in my free time, make short films," he says. Destiny, however, had better plans for Rajput.

The actor recalls the day when he was preparing to go abroad and study filmmaking. "I did not have any film in hand then, and did not want to do just anything for name, fame or money," he says. It was during that time he met casting director Mukesh Chhabra, who was looking for young, energetic actors to fit into the screen adaptation of Chetan Bhagat's 3 Mistakes of My Life. Rajput thought of this as a good opportunity to test waters in Bollywood. "I went for the first audition, where I was shortlisted for the second round. We then had group auditions, where the camaraderie between the three friends was tested. It was on the basis of our chemistry that director Abhishek Kapoor selected us," says the 27-year-old actor, about his debut film Kai Po Che that releases on February 22. The shoot was a memorable experience for him. "I got to learn a lot about filmmaking during this time," he adds.

Rajput's obsession with Bollywood can be traced to Shah Rukh Khan's early days in the industry. It was movies such as Baazigar, Darr, Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa and Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge that had a major influence on Rajput. "I used to watch his movies and then try and copy him. I used to say his dialogues loud and act cool," he says. As he was growing up, films made by Akira Kurosawa, Krystof Keislowski and Martin Scorcese also made a mark on him. "I started watching a lot of international cinema and realised there is a world beyond Bollywood."

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