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As the world observes Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s birth anniversary on January 21, it’s clear that his family, colleagues and fans are still struggling to gain closure after his tragic death on June 14, 2020.
Image Credit: Twitter
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The ‘Kai Po Che’ actor, whose death is still under investigation with the Central Bureau of Investigation, would have turned 35 today. His death left a dark void, and triggered dialogues on Bollywood’s toxic working culture and how difficult it is for outsiders to crack the world of Hindi entertainment. It can be safely said that no actor’s demise in Bollywood has seen so many fans clamouring for answers and justice. His demise also triggered a dialogue on the importance of mental health in India, especially among those who live under the spotlight. Here are facts about the actor and his legacy …
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Sushant Singh Rajput’s sister Shweta paid it forward to her brother on his birth anniversary. Her brother harboured a deep passion for astrophysics, and it was only fair that her birthday gift had something to do with his love for the stars and planets. “I am happy to announce that on 35th Birthday of Bhai, a step has been taken towards fulfilling one of his dreams. The Sushant Singh Rajput Memorial Fund of $35,000 has been set up in UC Berkeley. Anyone who is interested in pursuing Astrophysics at UC Berkeley can apply for this fund. Grateful to the Angels who made it possible. Happy Birthday my little Brother, I hope you always stay happy wherever you are! Love You #SushantDay,” she wrote on her social media handle along with a collage of their pictures.
Image Credit: instagram.com/shwetasinghkirti/
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Indian National Award-winning actress Kangana Ranaut was one of the first few stars to pay her respects for Rajput. Ranaut, who was at the forefront demanding justice for Rajput’s death, claimed she regretted not being there for the actor when he needed her help. Ranaut had consistently floated a theory that Rajput was treated badly in Bollywood and that he was driven to suicide by powerful producers who sidelined him and tried to stall his career. “Dear Sushant, movie mafia banned you bullied you and harassed you, many times on social media you asked for help and I regret not being there for you. I wish I didn’t assume you are strong enough to handle mafia torture on your own. I wish ... Happy Birthday dear one #SushantDay,” tweeted Ranaut.
Image Credit: Instagram
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Rajput’s former girlfriend Ankita Lokhande didn’t choose a defiant way to observe his birth anniversary, unlike Ranaut. She will be posting a series of feel-good old videos of Rajput to mark his 35th birthday. ““#sushantday. I don’t know how to start and what to say but yes today I’m gonna share few of yours old videos Sushant to celebrate you. These are the only memories I have with u and i will always remember you like this, happy, intelligent, romantic, mad and adorable. #scotch has always missed u and now I guess he miss u more. I pray and I know tum jaha ho waha bahut khush ho... happy birthday to u will be missed #memoriesforlife (sic),” she wrote to her 3 million Instagram followers. In the video, Rajput is being chased merrily by his pet Scotch.
Image Credit: IANS
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Producer Ekta Kapoor, who gave Rajput his big break in television with TV shows like ‘Pavitra Rishta’ and ‘Kis Des Me Hai Mera Dil’, also took to her social media handles to pay tribute to the actor. “Sushi forever! Shining bright like a star! Love and light wherever you are! Happy birth on earth day,” wrote Kapoor along with posting a series videos of the actor during their times of working together.
Image Credit: IANS
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Kriti Sanon, Rajput's close friend and 'Raabta' co-star, took to Instagram to share a picture of the actor looking happy and serene. "This is how I'll remember you... Smiling like a child! Happy Birthday Sush. I hope you are smiling and at peace wherever you are," she wrote.
Image Credit: AFP
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Rajput’s life was a testament to an industry outsider courting fame and adulation, but crashing and burning under the weight of being in the public eye. His short, but strong career was laden with a string of stirring films. He burst into the Bollywood with a spectacularly-performed drama ‘Kai Po Che’ in 2013. Directed by Abhishek Kapoor, who later worked with the actor on ‘Kedarnath, the movie made him an instant superstar with many comparing his screen presence and impish charm to Shah Rukh Khan’s debut.
Image Credit: AFP
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The Patna-born actor did not boast any powerful industry connections nor was her born into an acting dynasty. But he made it on his own steam with a clutch of meaningful films such as ‘Chhichhore’ and ‘Shudh Desi Romance’.
Image Credit: Yash Raj Films
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Sushant Singh Rajput’s world did not end with acting in films alone. He was a profound thinker and kept evolving as a human. He loved studying stars and planets and took a keen interest in reading books. After his death, his family sporadically talks about the person behind the superstar. Recently, his sister shared an intimate handwritten note written by Rajput. “I think I spent 30 years of my life, trying to become something. I wanted to become good at things. I wanted to become good at tennis and school and grades. …. And everything, I viewed in that perspective. I am not ok the way I am but if I got good at things... I realised I had the game wrong.” He signed off the post writing, “Because the game was always to find out what I already was.”
Image Credit: PTI
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His last release was ‘Dil Bechara’, a Hindi adaptation of the Hollywood movie ‘The Fault In Our Stars’. It was released posthumously and opened to good reviews.