On the auspicious day of Ganesh Chaturthi, Sushant Singh Rajput chooses to talks about attaching equal importance to hard work and destiny, setting 'unrealistic' goals and more in a candid interview
Q. How religious are you? How do you define spirituality?
A. I am quite religious, but not very. I have read many books on spirituality. But then, I am not someone who throws up his hands and leaves everything to God. I believe in hard work while being patient enough to let destiny take its own course. That process is more important. That is true meditation and spirituality for me. To believe in something that I have not met and accepting that it provides psychological security is sort of a tricky proposal as far as I am concerned.
Sushant Singh Rajput at a Ganpati pandal in Parel. Pic/Rane Ashish
Q. So you do believe in destiny?
A. Yes, but I think it's very dynamic. It changes with your thinking. It's there, but with strong willpower, you can change it.
Q. Do you think you have been able to do that with your mental strength?
A. Of course, otherwise how would I explain everything that has happened to me in the last six or seven years? I have maintained a diary since my college days. I used to write down everything that I wanted to do in the next six-seven years. And believe me, everything has happened exactly the way I wrote it. People talk about talent and hard-work and thinking big and a lot of other things which are important, but the most important thing which can see you through is belief.
Sushant Singh Rajput at the mid-day office. The actor has grown his hair to get into the skin of his character for MS Dhoni: The Untold Story, a biopic on Indian cricket skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Pic/Rane Ashish
Q. Is it belief in yourself or something bigger than that?
A. It can be anything. Like I said, all my dreams have come true. There was never an iota of doubt that it won't happen. Everybody used to laugh at me when I told them about my goals back then because my dreams seemed unrealistic to them. But I would respond to their ridicule with a smile.
Q. Was there ever a phase when you doubted that things won't turn out the way you wanted them to?
A. No, but I used to doubt if I will achieve complete happiness by achieving my goals. I still list my dreams in my diary — bigger, tougher goals. I don't write specific things about what kind of roles or films I will choose. During my college days, I decided I wanted to take up professional classes in dance; theatre and television were also conscious decisions. When I was thinking of entering films after TV, people told me it was impossible because it happened 20 years back (in reference to Shah Rukh Khan). So again, it was unrealistic. So I took such important decisions based on my belief.
Q. Another thing common between you and Shah Rukh is that you both hardly sleep...
A. (Laughs) I guess when you are really excited about your present and not thinking about your future or dreaming about becoming the biggest superstar of the country, it keeps you awake. So whenever I fall asleep, I wake up feeling content. You can call me a happy insomniac.
Q. What's the process like when you have a strong belief towards achieving your set goals?
A. Small things keep happening and you find yourself in control and then you form big circles. When I was appearing for an all India engineering entrance exam, I didn't know who I was competing with, but I wanted to be on the top-100 list and my wish came true. So, I use my willpower and belief to achieve things.
Q. You are in a field where it is easy to get carried away by fame. Is spirituality a way to hold yourself to ground?
A. There are three things everyone wants — money, fame and power. And once you get them all, you become immune to the idea of being rich and famous. So, you go the other way. I grew up in a big family — I have with four sisters. Our financial situation wasn't too strong, so I wanted money in life. The idea stayed with me for a good 10 to 12 years. And I remember the evening I bought my dream car and went for a long drive with my friends and girlfriend, but by the next morning, I was just okay with the idea of owning a luxury car. You catch my drift, right? So then the only thing you look forward to is find
excitement in everything in life. And that excitement does not let me sleep.
Q. With fame and success, one tends to give more importance to materialistic stuff than what you should be valuing actually?
A. It depends. Once you achieve success, you can start taking yourself seriously and think how not to lose out on any of the adulation. Then you also have the option of taking your job seriously, not yourself. But most people tend to take themselves seriously more than anything else.
Q. Is it tough to not take yourself seriously when people keep praising you for your work?
A. I was a background dancer and to take one step forward to become the hero who dances took a lot of effort. I feel happy about the leap, but then that's just about it. I don't take myself seriously.
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