UAE-based designer’s tribute to Sushant Singh Rajput
Dubai-based menswear designer Varoin Marwah reflects on a friendship designed by fate.
To many, Sushant Singh Rajput was a star, but, to me, he was a friend.
I can only credit destiny with bringing us together, as it was mere serendipity - not work or mutual friends - that helped us first meet.
It was the evening of New Year's Eve and we were both guests at the same party. He was shooting for M.S. Dhoni at the time and had changed his hairstyle quite a bit, so I didn't recognise him at first. He approached me to say hello, as he liked the view from my table that was overlooking the Burj al Arab. In less than a minute, the ice was broken and we were laughing away.
I will always remember that night as the beginning of our friendship. As he was in Dubai for a few more days, we continued to stay in touch, meet for dinners, and hang out, in general.
We started to make it a point to catch up during my trips to Mumbai. Sushant had a very big heart. He would take me around and brief the staff to take extra care of me, as I was his guest. He always made sure to give me his undivided attention - something he granted everyone around him. Sushant never flaunted his stardom or pretended to be busy to anyone. Even more admirable was the fact that his phone was never a source of distraction for him - a huge surprise, considering hardly any of us can resist the constant lure of our devices every few minutes.
I have several fond memories of my time with Sushant. Like the time he caught me completely by surprise during an award function in Dubai, by pulling me up to dance with him on stage while he was performing. He even left a table filled with A-list stars like Sonam Kapoor to sit with me that evening, saying he didn't get to hang out with me that often.
Another time, he made one of my birthdays in Mumbai very special by gracing the occasion with his presence. My friends and family had no idea he would be there - but he was. To everyone's pleasant surprise, he was super-friendly with all my guests and made himself at home in no time. And, true to form, he was the life of the party and made all of us dance till the end.
At one of his Diwali parties in Mumbai, I clearly remember how he didn't allow his staff to prepare me my first drink and instead made it himself. He told the staff that he knew what I liked, and insisted on preparing it himself, as it was the first time I was visiting his new home. He was that personal and always made conversation from the heart.
To his credit, he never let stardom go to his head and behaved graciously with one and all. In Dubai, whenever we went out for dinners and fans came up to him, he would always grant their requests for a photo. He always had fresh poems to share, and would even come up with some beautiful lines based on his state of mind at the time.
His love for Shah Rukh Khan was well-known. He once got the opportunity to be part of a promotional campaign for Dubai Tourism soon after SRK did. He was over the moon! To him, it meant he was on the right track, since he was able to do such a campaign soon after his favourite star did.
He never had a negative thing to say about other actors. On the contrary, he was always appreciative of everyone else's work and learnt from them.
He was a strange mix of both an introvert and an extrovert... I wish he had opened up about his struggles. It's only now that I've lost him that I realise how we put people into boxes, rather than trying to open the lid. I have lost someone I met by destiny and have only good memories to carry forward.
My only request to everyone is not to speculate and come up with rumours. Allow his loved ones to mourn in peace.