Mukesh Chhabra on how life has changed after Sushant Singh Rajput: It is awkward to talk about him in the past tense.
Mukesh Chhabra’s directorial debut, Dil Bechara, starring the late Sushant Singh Rajput, Saif Ali Khan and debutant Sanjana Sanghi is just 4 days away from release. The film will be special in more ways than one, especially for fans of Sushant Singh Rajput who are still coming to terms with his demise. The actor was also very close to Mukesh Chhabra and there were so many emotions simply behind the casting of the talented actor in his directorial debut. In an exclusive conversation with BollywoodLife, the director pours his heart out at this difficult reality that many are trying to cope up with, his happy memories of shooting the film with Sushant, and so much more…
Excerpts from the interview…
The trailer of Dil Bechara has got a huge response. What are your emotions right now?
Honestly, life changed in the past one month. The knowledge that the trailer has got so much love is slowly sinking in. It is a very bittersweet feeling. I do not know whether to be happy about it or feel sad that Sushant is not here to see it. It is awkward to talk about him in the past tense. Everything has changed so much.
There is so much talk about everything on social media after his demise…
He was like a brother to me. We were very close. I am still struggling with my feelings. As of now, my focus is on the film, his last work.
Some happy memories from the making of Dil Bechara…
It is an emotional film. Most of the scenes were emotionally draining. Once, we got done with the shoot, we did do small dinner parties where we sang and danced. We would play cricket and do lots of masti. All of us were happy and excited. Since, Sanjana (Sanghi) was a newcomer, I made her do a lot of workshops with Sushant right from the start. We started off with the fun scenes so things could proceed smoothly. They bonded wonderfully.
After his death, the appreciation for Sushant Singh Rajput seems to have increased manifold. They say regret is bigger than gratitude.
Sushant was a fantastic actor. Yes, people are knowing lot more about his personality now. He was an intellectual and very kind-hearted. He deserves the love.
He made his debut with your film. Take us a bit through your relationship.
We met when I was auditioning for Kai Po Che. He made an instant impression with his aura, dedication and charm. I knew he had it in him to make it in Bollywood. Over the years, our friendship grew stronger and we became like brothers. He said he would do my first film and he kept his promise.
A large section of fans wanted to see Dil Bechara in the theatres, the film being his swan song. The OTT release left them upset…
Do we know when the theatres are going to open? No, we don’t. It might take more six months or even longer. There is no surety on that. Also, people are scared given how the pandemic is spreading. Good content will shine irrespective of the medium. OTT is the big thing now. Dil Bechara will reach a huge number of people via OTT and all I can say is that we have made the film with a lot of love. I am sure the film will strike a chord.
Most filmmakers are telling stories based in small-town India. You have chosen Jamshedpur. Any specific reason?
I had heard a lot about Jamshedpur from people like Imtiaz Ali. Also, I wanted a non-metro city that was very cosmopolitan. Jamshedpur has people from all parts of India. It is also quite pretty. I loved Vikramaditya Motwane’s Udaan and how he had used the landscape of Jamshedpur. I felt it was perfect for my film.
What kind of preparation did Sushant put in for the movie?
In Dil Bechara, he is playing a college student. He had to look the charm. Sushant lost a lot of weight for the film. His character is a Tamilian, so he learnt a bit of the language as needed. Plus, you have seen he has only one leg in the trailer. He worked very hard on the body language. Sushant was an extremely hard-working actor. He always put in a lot.
Sushant’s emotional intelligence is something that is being talked about a lot. He has brought a lot of vulnerability to his characters…
He was very invested in all his characters. Sushant would study everything in great detail. It came naturally to him.
Which performances of his do you love the most?
Kai Po Che is a personal favourite. He has done fabulously in Dil Bechara, but let the audience decide. Then, it has to be MS Dhoni, Sonchiriya and Kedarnath. It is very hard to select. He was always good.
How would you like to remember his legacy?
People will remember him as a great talent who impressed in his every outing. He had immense talent. For me, he was the guy who was a thinker, intelligent and loving. From quantum physics to astronomy, he was extremely knowledgeable.