Late versatile actor Sushant Singh Rajput was the “complete package” in real life, recalls his close friend from school days, Arti Batra Dua. She adds that he “was very deeply attached to the people he considered his close ones”.
Sushant, who did his initial schooling at St. Karen’s High School in Patna, came to Delhi in 2001 for higher studies. He attended Kulachi Hansraj Model School before pursuing mechanical engineering from Delhi College of Engineering (DCE). It was at the Delhi school where Sushant and Arti became close friends.
“I met Sushant for the first time in standard XI. He came as a new student. It was totally different with him. We went on to become good friends. He was a fun person. I was very serious in studies and he used to take things lightly. Not that he ignored studies, but he never took stress to his head,” she recalls.
“Sushant was a complete package. He was good at studies, he used to do mischievous things at school. The teachers were really fond of him. He was an all-rounder,” Arti told IANS.
She remembers how Sushant gave her his autograph on the last day at school and jokingly said: “Rakh le, baad mein line mein khade hone ke baad bhi kya pata na mile (keep it, later you may not get it even if you stand in a queue).”
“It was our farewell day and I was feeling a bit low. I remember there were engineering coaching centre people who had come to our school and given us sample papers in brown envelopes. Sushant sat next to me. He looked at me and took my envelope and wrote, ‘Lots of love, Sushant’ on it.”
“I was annoyed because he had ruined my envelope by writing his name on it, and asked him to give me his envelope and take mine. That was when he gave the funny response, ‘rakh le, baad mein line mein khade hone ke baad bhi kya pata na mile’. And he actually proved it. He did everything to fulfil his dreams. I am super proud of him. I still have that brown envelope. It’s my precious memory of Sushant,” Arti shared.
Sushant dropped a year post standard XII to get admission into DCE.
“After standard XII, he dropped a year to prepare for the entrance exams for DCE. When he tried for the first time, he was not able to crack it. His mother passed away the same year and he was very much attached to his mom. He then studied a lot and the next year he cracked the entrance exam and got an admission into DCE. He had a ‘never give up’ attitude. His dedication inspired me a lot,” she added.
Arti also recalled how Sushant went all the way to Ujjain from Delhi to meet another school friend, Navya Jindal, just to inform of his plan of “quitting engineering and joining the entertainment field”.
“Sushant believed in quality over quantity. He did not have many friends but was very deeply attached to the people he treated as his close ones. I guess only Navya and I were in touch with him post school,” she said.
“So, suddenly one day Sushant contacted me and told me that he was thinking of quitting engineering. I was shocked to hear his decision because it was his dream to get into DCE. ‘Pagal ho gaya hai (have you lost it)?’ was my instant response. But he was adamant. Navya’s reaction had been the same as mine. But Sushant was a hard working person,” Arti added.
“I remember when he joined Shiamak Davar’s dance troupe before becoming an actor, and got the chance to be a part of 2006 CWG gala, he called me. He was so excited and happy as he performed along with Aishwarya Rai Bachchan,” Arti reminisced.
Sushant passed away on June 14. Reportedly, he was battling depression. “I never thought Sushant would take such an extreme step in life. I still can’t believe this has happened. He was a very positive person,” Arti said.
She recalled how he had a habit of changing his number frequently. “Sushant used to change his phone number frequently. Navya and I really used to track him on several social media applications. Once, I even fought with him for his habit of changing numbers. He laughed and said, ‘mujhe tera number yaad hai, tu mat change kario (I know your number, you don’t change it). I will contact you.”
“The last time I spoke to him was in 2017. He told me that he was planning to come to Delhi and meet me. It never happened owing to our busy schedules. Also, we used to think that, being a big celebrity now, he will contact us on his own whenever he gets the time. Now I feel thinking that way was wrong. I regret of not calling him and not staying in touch with him regularly,” she grieved.
“I will miss him a lot. I hope we all remember him for his remarkable contribution he made to our nation,” Arti signed off with a heavy heart.