A mix of grief and incredulity engulfed the paternal residence of Sushant Singh Rajput after the news came that the 34-year-old actor, a chirpy young man at the pinnacle of his Bollywood career, was found dead at his Mumbai home.
Relatives, neighbours and fans dashed to the two-storey house in Rajiv Nagar where Rajput — the youngest among five siblings — spent his childhood and where his father, a retired government servant, lives with a caretaker.
The compound soon packed with well-wishers, taking turns to offer condolences to the grieving parent who, crestfallen by the tragedy, was fainting frequently.
The caretaker, Laxmi, told media persons that Rajput’s eldest sister, who lives in Chandigarh, has conveyed over telephone that she would be arriving by flight later in the day and accompany the father to Mumbai.
It was not known if the mortal remains would be brought back here for last rites.
“I simply cannot believe that Sushant has taken such a step. He was such a lively boy who inspired others through his zest for life. His father, despite not being in a very good shape, used to come out for morning walks regularly and we used to talk about his son.
“The father and the son used to talk over phone frequently but never did the boy exhibit any signs of being fed up with life,” lamented a middle-aged neighbour.
A teenaged girl from the neighbourhood who recalled having met the actor when he visited home less than a year ago, said, “He was so full of positivity. It is hard to believe he could do something like this. If we find the reality so hard to sink in, imagine what must have been the state of the family. The question that would keep haunting us is why?”
Lovely Anand, a former MP who is distantly related to the deceased actor’s family, also visited the home to offer her condolences.
“There must be an inquiry. Only a few days ago his manager committed suicide, now it is our boy. I do not believe it can be a mere coincidence,” she said referring to celebrity manager Diya Salani who had Rajput as many of her former clients.
Facebook pages run by alumni of the city-based St Karen’s High School, Rajput’s alma mater where he studied till Class XII before leaving for Delhi to pursue a degree in engineering alongside his passion for acting, were abuzz with images of the actor in his teens, donning the school uniform, captioned with messages of grief and shock.
In a career that spanned barely over a decade, Rajput got nominated for many awards for his performances in movies and TV shows and won some of these.
Rajput’s last notable venture ‘Chhichhore’ saw him portray the role of a sensitive, middle-aged father who resuscitates his son, after the young lad jumps off the window, shattered over flunking engineering entrance exams.
Aniruddh Pathak, the character played by Rajput, revived his son by summoning friends from across the world and with them narrating the tale of their own not-so-perfect academic careers with the message that it was okay to not succeed, there was always another chance.
In real life, ironically, Rajput made it big but the worldly success could not hold back the actor who betrayed a brooding, melancholic side of himself in his last Instagram post of a week ago which has gone viral.
The actor shared an image of his mother, who passed away while he was in school and left him emotionally shattered for the rest of his life, alongside a black and white image of himself.
“Blurred past evaporating from teardrops. Unending dreams carving an arc of smile. And a fleeting life, negotiating between the two.Maa,” the actor said by way of a caption that appears, in retrospect, a foreboding.