The year was 2013 and fresh from a smashing career in TV, Sushant Singh Rajput instantly won hearts with his earnest acting prowess in Kai Po Che, even won the Best Debut Actor award that year. But even though he gave exceptional performances in films that followed, he knew he was in an industry that doesn’t forgive failures of outsiders like him. And he had his share of heartbreaks and setbacks, but he always persevered even when he invested 2 years of his life for Shekhar Kapur’s Paani, a much-talked-about drama on the water crisis, which never took off.
Within two years of his entry in Bollywood, Sushant Singh Rajput knew that the rampant nepotism was judging his failures and successes too
“We are just saying that outsiders find it hard to break into the industry and insiders get it easy, that’s the first thing. No one talks about how your successes and your failures are perceived,” he had said in an interview back in 2015. He went on to add that when a star kid lands a flop, they still get a chance to prove their mettle, but with outsiders like him their failures aren’t “easily forgotten” and their successes have to be punctuated a “hundreds of times and you justify it”.
Of the many setbacks Sushant Singh Rajput faced as an outsider, the most unfortunate was the ambitious Shekhar Kapur drama Paani, that never took off
For Sushant Singh Rajput Shekhar Kapur’s Paani was the dream project he always wanted to bring to life on the silver screen. But after investing more than a year on it, during which he reportedly lost out on Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Bajirao Mastani and more than 12 film offers, Paani was shut down after Yash Raj Films backed out as producers after months of prep.
“Yes. It was very unfortunate because I remember saying no to many films I really wanted to do at that point of time, just because I trusted somebody who was telling me, ‘No matter what, the film will be made.’ I can also understand that I am a newcomer and a filmmaker is putting in so much money, so he will have doubts, but it doesn’t take away the fact that if you decide not to do that film, you cannot not give me another film just because you know I have said no to so many films. That didn’t happen,” he had shared.
“I waited for another month, so I would get another film but it didn’t happen. I said, ‘Fine! Let’s find out for myself'”.
But despite the fact that he lost out on many opportunities while waiting for months…
….Sushant Singh Rajput moved forward with only the happy memories of when he was preparing for his role in Paani
Shekhar Kapur was devasted when Paani, his magnum opus, was shelved, even after it was earlier announced at the Cannes Film Festival, but what saddened him more was not being able to complete the project with Sushant as he had “never met an actor that worked so hard in preparing for a part” as the Raabta actor did.
In an interview with Huffington Post last year, Sushant Singh Rajput had shared that while Paani not happening was upsetting, he always remembered the experience of working with Kapur. He narrated how he and Kapur spent 6-7 hours talking to a cobbler opposite Juhu’s Iskcon temple- something that “enriched” him and opened him up his perspective.
And even after 10 years in the film industry, he remained an outsider, till his last breath on 14th June 2020 when he committed suicide.