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Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput, who died by suicide at his home in Mumbai on June 14 in 2020, was a maverick in the film industry. While his body of work may have been limited to a mere seven years in the film industry, the actor proved he was a force to reckon with and could give many talents a run for their money. As we observe his first death anniversary, we pick some of the best on-screen roles over the years.
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Kai Po Che: Set in the Indian state of Gujarat in early 2000, the film revolved around three friends trying to make it big in the world of highly competitive business by opening a cricket academy and sports store for hopefuls. Rajput plays Ishaan, the effortlessly confident and passionate one, with his effortless acting that is a mix of Hrithik Roshan’s looks and Shah Rukh Khan’s impish on-screen charms. While Rajput is a class apart in the film, his director Abhishek Kapoor uses the backdrop of two epic events that rocked Gujurat in early 2000s to propel his film forward: the 2001 earthquake that killed thousands and the bloody Hindu-Muslim communal clashes that divided Gujurat are used as an effective backdrop for an explosive second-half.
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Shuddh Desi Romance: Gayatri (Parineeti Chopra) and Raghu (Sushant Singh Rajput) are rebels in love. They are perennially altar-phobic and their minds are as messed up as their cluttered apartment. Perhaps that’s why it is so liberating to watch this romantic comedy. Unlike popular Bollywood romances, the hero isn’t a rich, smooth-talking lad who is charming and sweeps his soul-mate off her feet. Their courtship isn’t a long-winded swanky affair filled with champagne and roses either. And, there are no pre-ordained happy endings here. Credit here goes to Rajput and Chopra for playing their parts beautifully. Lust is tastefully showcased and attraction is adorably packaged. The third wheel in this equation is Taara, the jilted bride, played by newcomer Vaani Kapoor.
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Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!: If you measure director Dibakar Bannerjee’s Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! by the yardsticks — does a viewer guess the culprits easily or the murderer’s intent in a snap — then his whodunit scores high because this isn’t a film that relies on the obvious. Mostly, that’s a good thing because Bollywood mysteries rarely keep the suspense going till the end. But actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s tale as an amateur sleuth Byomkesh Bakshy, who is trying to crack the case of a missing chemist, is an exception. Rajput owns the role of the dhoti-clad, uni-brow detective Bakshy. During the movie, you may forget that he’s an actor who has excelled in those modern guy-next-door romantic comedies. He seems to have immersed himself in the role and hasn’t relied on his charm or his goofy smile to win over fans. His relentless pursuit of the killers and his frustrations when he reaches a dead end are aptly captured.
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MS Dhoni The Untold Story: History has taught us that biopics in Bollywood can turn out to be an exercise in vanity and self-indulgence. The subject of the film is usually irreverent and their flaws are judiciously justified in those biopics (Remember Emraan Hashmi’s flawed turn as tainted former cricketer Mohammad Azharuddin in Azhar). But Indian National Award-winning director Neeraj Pandey has sworn not to fall into any such traps with his venture M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story. The director behind spectacular films such as terrorism thrillers A Wednesday and Baby, has attempted to show the real side of the Indian skipper, who is popular for his calm demeanour under pressure with Rajput immersing himself into the character and becomes Dhoni in many ways.
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Kedarnath: You expect a good love story to sweep you off your feet and flood you with emotions that stir your core. While director Abhishek Kapoor’s sweeping romance ‘Kedarnath’ doesn’t rock your world, this tale of star-crossed lovers won’t leave you unmoved either. There’s Mansoor Khan (Sushant Singh Rajput), a sprightly ‘pittu’ (porter) who carries and transports pilgrims physically to the gates of the temple. This bloke is an eternal ray of sunshine and believes in helping people out even if they are mean towards him. Rajput and Khan manage to ignite some chemistry between them in the first half, but things unravel into melodrama in the second half.
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Sonchiriya: The 2019 Indian action film by Abhishek Chaubey stars Sushant Singh Rajput, along with Bhumi Pednekar, Manoj Bajpayee, Ranvir Shorey and Ashutosh Rana. Set in the jungles of Chambal, the film is set in 1975 and tells the tale of dacoits who term themselves Baaghis. Rajput brings a sense of grittiness to his character that hasn’t been seen before by the actor on screen. He is raw, powerful and draws upon a viewer to almost sympathise with his character.
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Chhichhore: Bollywood films set in college campuses lean towards creating a shined-up and sanitised world populated with insanely rich kids. But Chhichhore isn’t one of them. The college buddy drama subverts those established tropes and gives us an authentic and heartwarming story. Sushant Singh Rajput, who plays the immensely lovable Anni, shines in his role as the gawky, unsure college student who grows up to be a doting father to a troubled teenage son. His receding hairline wig — in the grown-up, adulting portions — might jar, but his performance is smooth and stirring. He’s charming as an impish bloke trying to impress that popular girl from college Maya (Shraddha Kapoor) and is equally in command as an overprotective father who is forced to grapple with a personal tragedy.
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Dil Bechara: Directed by casting expert Mukesh Chhabra, the film is the Hindi adaptation of the Hollywood teenage romance ‘A Fault In Our Stars’, a stirring tale of star-crossed lovers grappling with cancer. The movie released after his death and is fondly remembered by his legion of fans. - With staff inputs
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