tab Sushant Singh Rajput and Sara Ali Khan - Kedarnath (10)
Sushant Singh Rajput and Sara Ali Khan in Abhishek Kapoor's 'Kedarnath' Image Credit: Supplied

Director Abhishek Kapoor, who had launched late actor Sushant Singh Rajput in Bollywood with ‘Kai Po Che!’, has described him as a “unique gem” that needed “gentleness and care”.

Rajput’s suicide on June 14 sent shockwaves through the film industry and his fans. The tragic incident has put the spotlight on the importance of mental health and support structures needed. It has also brought attention on the negative culture of nepotism in Bollywood.

“It’s not really visible, but there was a systematic dismantling of a fragile mind,” Kapoor said of Rajput.

Losing him, Kapoor said, “feels like losing a child”.

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Sushant Singh Rajput with Amit Sadh and Rajkummar Rao in 'Kai Po Che!' Image Credit: Supplied

“I kept telling Sushant, you’re already a star, don’t expect others to validate that for you. It’s really unfortunate, he kept seeking a validation he could not get,” Kapoor said on the web show ‘Enquiry’.

Calling for urgent introspection within the Bollywood fraternity, he further added: “Don’t discredit the outsiders. Celebration of an artiste is oxygen for him, he will die if you don’t celebrate him.”

“Above all, there’s a management that treats you like a commodity. It shreds the human being out of you. No one looks at the temperament of an artiste, how uniquely you have to be managed. You’re going to make crores of him, at least take care of him mentally, spiritually, creatively,” he added.

Giving insight into Rajput’s state of mind, he said: “Sushant was fragile, he had become fragile. He was incredibly intelligent, but he was also a complicated guy. Because you couldn’t stereotype him, you start to say he’s off.”

Sushant Singh Rajput, director Abhishek Kapoor and Sara Ali Khan. Image Credit: Supplied

In an emotional moment, he also read out the last message he had sent to Sushant.

He said: “I had not spoken to him for about a year and a half. There were times, you talk and then you’d go away to do a film. He must have changed his number 50 times and I remember when ‘Kedarnath’ was coming out, the media had just slammed it. I don’t know what happened, he could see that he was not getting the kind of love because everything was centered around Sara (Ali Khan) that time. He was just kind of lost. When the film released and it did really well, I sent him a message.

“The message said, ‘Bro I have been trying to reach you, I’m not sure if you are upset, or just busy, but call me so we can chat. We made a super film together, again. If we are not going to celebrate it then what the hell are we going to celebrate in life? So please call me, I love you.’ He didn’t respond. He didn’t respond on his birthday. I said to myself just let it be. I could see he was not in a good place but you cannot cross a line. You have to meet someone halfway. You can reach out to someone but only to an extent. If you give unsolicited advice, it is never appreciated and it loses its value. Sometimes I used to think I should call him but then I used to think when he calls me, I’ll get a hold of him. He never called.”