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with the same intensity and freshness each time. As jaded as I may sound, it taught me the importance of researching the character, so that I can look for the stimulus when I need it,” he says.
Jaded or not, Rajput is currently being viewed as a rising star in Bollywood. His moving and honest performance in Kai Po Che proved that he can carry a film on his shoulders, becoming Banerjee’s choice for playing the iconic character from Bengali literature, detective Byomkesh Bakshi.
“We needed a young star with a growing following, but who is not yet overexposed,” says Banerjee, explaining his choice of Rajput for the role. “Sushant has that very exciting mix of vulnerability and intensity which I think will add a lot to my Byomkesh —who is fresh out of college and on his first case — and fighting all the issues that a man of 23 faces when he comes out in the world.”
Currently being managed by YRF’s talent management arm, Rajput has also been ensured of being “projected right”. “Sushant is someone who appeals to a cross-section of people. The youth love him for his dance skills that he displayed on reality show Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa, and housewives took to him back in his Pavitra Rishta days,” says Ashish Patil, vice president (business & creative), YRF.
Although his dancing skills — which Rajput is confident of — are not being used in any of his current projects, his versatility, Patil believes, is on display in his new release, Maneesh Sharma-directed Shuddh Desi Romance. “I play a confused but earnest Raghu who is trying to differentiate between love and infatuation, the signs of which are often interchangeable,” he explains. The film, he says, explores the modern Indian youth’s take on relationships and the confusion between attraction and love.
While Rajput knows that it may not strike a chord with his fans from his television stint, who saw him as the aspirational hero, he isn’t willing to choose projects based on box-office returns. “I am supposed to lose up to eight kilos for my role as Byomkesh, apart from trying