So, I'm a 90s child who grew up in a standard middle-class home with only one television and, of course, no freedom to leave the house after 9 p.m. We were forced to watch all K drams with our family, thankfully or regrettably because we didn't have a choice at the time. My aunt used to adore this one show since the main character was a secret crush of hers.
I'm referring to Ekta Kapoor's television show Pavitra Rishta. My aunt was the one who initially introduced me to Sushant Singh Rajput. Manav became a member of our family since she adored him. She might forget anything, but at our house, the show was never missed. I was so hooked on the show, that I would even try and watch the repeat telecast. Soon this show was not only my favorite but also my boyfriend's, who would fight with me if I dare to watch the show alone. It is that kind of love we had for this boy next door - Manav aka Sushant Singh Rajput.
After watching Kai Po Che!, I began to admire this simple yet talented man. I had just started my career as a Bollywood journalist and was waiting for a chance to interview the one and only Manav. Finally, that day did come, I was called to do a profile interview with him at YRF. Sushant was prepping for M.S. Dhoni at the time. As I sat in one chair, I saw him walking towards the room, he was tanned and had shoulder-length hair. I remember telling myself 'Oh My God!! why does he look like this, actually I was secretly hoping to see him as Manav. In fact I blurted this out too in front of him, and he had a hearty laugh. He said, "I am sorry to disappoint you but I am in between prepping for two films, so maybe next time you will see me in a better look", just before ending this sentence Sushant winks and gives a nice Manav wala smile. Ab uske baad kya hi batau, the interview went so smoothly that we didn't realize how time went by. We had to be actually interrupted by his PR. From talking about his shows, films to the craze my family had for him, we had actually covered everything. This was the first and the last time I met Sushant for a long chat. Post this, we did meet during promotions, but it was always in a group. One thing which I loved about Sushant is that every time we met, he would meet with the same warmth, love, and a big smile.
Sushant was possibly the only actor who had experienced the bitterness of failure as well as the sweetness of success. From the title role in Shuddh Desi Romance to a supporting role in PK, he nailed his roles with absolute honesty. However, for us, he was always Manav.
When I learned of his death, it was on a routine workday. I couldn't believe that innocent smile would be gone forever. My aunt's Manav had passed away. Last year, my aunt called me asking whether this news was true, and with a heavy heart, all I could say was yes.
I could hear the sadness in her voice. Even though she had never met him or had any connection with him, I could feel how distraught she was. This is, I believe, the power of everyday soap; they bring these people to life as if they were members of our family.
The announcement of his death sparked a flurry of debates. Observing the flashy tickers that go around the news networks to the headlines of cold-blooded news articles. As a journalist, this was an emotionally strange moment for me, as I was forced to cover every new update on the subject.
I often wonder how much suffering he must have endured. What a state of mind he had in his final days.
Watching him in Dil Bechara taught me that you don't have to know someone to fall in love with them. Looking at him one final time on the TV, my entire family broke down in tears. Sushant had said the nicest goodbye he could ever say.
Sushant Singh Rajput will always be Manav to me, a man whose laughter could fill the room and an actor who turned inspiration for many.
Image Source: Instagram/sushantsinghrajput, spotboye archives