Sushant Singh Rajput as Ishaan in Kai Po Che!
From a backup dancer on Shiamak
Davar's troupe to a lead role in an Ekta Kapoor soap to acting in one of
the biggest films of the season, Sushant Singh Rajput has had a dream run. t2 caught up with the shy 27-year-old on his debut film Kai Po Che! (February 22 release) and beyond.
How did Kai Po Che! happen?
After I dropped out of Pavitra Rishta (his
daily soap on Zee TV), I was all set to attend UCLA (in Los Angeles)
for a filmmaking course when casting director Mukesh Chhabra spotted me
in a coffee shop and asked me to give an audition. I gave it and
Abhishek (Kapoor, director of Kai Po Che!) felt I was perfect...
apart from one problem: I had to play a 23/24-year-old cricketer and I
needed to look fit for that. I worked out for six weeks and lost a lot
of weight. And I was on as Ishaan.
Did you read 3 Mistakes of my Life (on which Kai Po Che! is based) before the film was offered to you?
I had read all the books of Chetan Bhagat, except 3 Mistakes of my Life!
Before I started shooting, I read the script first and then the book
and I found it to be an extremely interesting read. But what Abhishek
has done with it is remarkable' he has converted it into a wonderful,
Ishaan is flamboyant and impulsive, honest and passionate. How far did you relate to your character?
All the characters
that I have played, whether in theatre, TV or now in my first film,
have been a part of me in some way or the other. Of course, there are
some aspects to my characters I can't relate with. But I have always
believed that if you do your homework properly and study your characters
well, you can find most of their traits in you.
I connect a lot
with Ishaan. He is very talented and can't tolerate hypocrites. At the
same time, because of the age that he is at, Ishaan is very impulsive.
He hasn't had an easy life and has seen a lot of hardships, but he tries
to cover it up with a certain overconfidence. As a result, he makes
mistakes. It's a complex character.
The shoot in Gujarat was apparently very tough...
The emotion that
was uppermost on my mind through the whole shoot was excitement' the
script was so good and I couldn't believe that I was working with a
National Award-winning director (Rock On!! won Best Feature Film
in Hindi in 2009) in my first film. Almost the entire shoot was on real
locations in Gujarat and at the peak of summer, in almost 50C heat. It
was tough, but the passion that Abhishek had and the excitement that we
came with was somehow bigger than everything else.
What was your equation with Raj Kumar Yadav (Govind) and Amit Sadh (Omi)?
Raj Kumar is a
wonderful actor' I really learnt so much from him. Amit was like my
elder brother and he guided me in everything' from camera angles to what
I should eat! To be honest, the three of us were not acting in the
film' we had a certain chemistry from the day we auditioned together and
it continued through the film and beyond. On set, we would constantly
improvise and spontaneously play off each other because we felt so
You are being hailed as Bollywood's next big thing. Does that excite or unnerve you?
It's exciting for
sure. But then, I don't know why people are saying that I am the next
big thing. Although it does feel good to hear things like that. I am
someone who has taken risks even when in a secure position. I had an
all-India rank of seven in my engineering joint entrance, but I took up
acting; I was doing well on TV, but I opted out. I have always taken the
responsibility for my decisions and never regretted them. I was all set
to go to UCLA, but Kai Po Che! happened and I enjoyed the process of doing the film.
your first film is out, you are shooting for a Yash Raj film with
Parineeti Chopra; are set to share screen space with Aamir Khan in
Rajkumar Hirani's Peekay; and have also been signed by Imtiaz Ali for his next. What would you attribute your dream run to?
I feel that if one
has the courage to dream big and believe in one's dreams and then the
diligence to work towards it, nothing's impossible. I have always taken
huge risks and backed it up with hard work and it's always been very
fruitful for me. I have already started shooting for my Yash Raj film
and Peekay should start sometime this year. I am grateful that my hard work is paying off.
Will Sushant Singh Rajput make it big in Bollywood? Tell firstname.lastname@example.org