SUSHANT Singh Rajput.—AFP
SUSHANT Singh Rajput.—AFP

MUMBAI: A young Bolly­wood heartthrob lauded for his portrayal of cricket star M.S. Dhoni on the silver screen has died, Mumbai police said on Sunday.

“Police found Sushant Singh Rajput’s body at his residence on Sunday afternoon,” Mumbai police spokesman Pranaya Ashok said, confirming that the 34-year-old had taken his own life.

Rajput, renowned for his numerous hits on the big and small screens, reportedly battled depression.

He passed away just a few days after the shock death of his former manager Disha Salian. “It pains us to share that Sushant Singh Rajput is no longer with us,” Rajput’s management team said in a statement. “We request his fans to keep him in their thoughts and celebrate his life, and his work like they have done so far.”

Born in Patna in the eastern state of Bihar, Rajput quit his studies in engineering to pursue a career in acting and dance. He got his big break in Bollywood in 2013 with Kai Po Che, a film about cricket, love and politics that won acclaim at the Berlin film festival.

His most recent films were comedy-drama Chhichhore and action movie Drive, both released last year.

Rajput in 2016 spoke of the emotional rollercoaster he went through filming the biopic of Indian cricket hero Dhoni, MS Dhoni: The Untold Story, which included retelling the death of the ex-skipper’s former girlfriend.

“It was very difficult because, after we did the preparation, in my head I was him and everything that was happening was actually affecting me,” he said.

Rajput started his acting career with television soap operas. He had acted in 10 films and his eleventh, an official remake of the Hollywood hit The Fault in Our Stars, is scheduled for release later this year. Among his other movies are PK, Kedarnath, Sonchiriya and Raabta.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed shock over the actor’s death. “A bright young actor gone too soon ... His rise in the world of entertainment inspired many and he leaves behind several memorable performances,” he said on Twitter.

“I will miss him so much,” tweeted Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan alongside a selfie with Rajput. “His energy, enthusiasm and his full happy smile.”

Published in Dawn, June 15th, 2020

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