Sushant Singh Rajput's portrayal of Dhoni will linger on
For a man whose achingly beautiful portrayal of Mahendra Singh Dhoni in 'MS Dhoni: The Untold Story' brought a lump to the throat, Sushant Singh Rajput gave up on life after a six-month battle with depression, leaving his admirers weathering a storm of emotions.
Rajput might not have been one of the greatest actors to have set foot in Mumbai, but the sincerity with which the actor in him brought Dhoni's journey from the cricketing backwaters of Ranchi to the pantheon of the game's iconic names would linger on.
And one such iconic name who expressed shock at Rajput's death on Sunday was Sachin Tendulkar.
"Shocked and sad to hear about the loss of Sushant Singh Rajput. Such a young and talented actor. My condolences to his family and friends. May his soul RIP," Tendulkar wrote on Twitter.
Kiran More, the former Indian wicketkeeper batsman who trained Rajput for several months to prepare him for the challenging role in MS Dhoni: The Untold Story, was lost of words.
"Shock and disbelief are the two words I can remember" More told PTI.
More remembered how he had taught Rajput the basics of wicketkeeping for the movie.
"He was really involved, he used to train just like a cricketer. He practised regularly for nine months for the role," More said.
"Wicketkeeping is a completely different ball game. He got hit many times in his hands, arms, thighs but by the end he was absolutely ready to play. He also mastered Dhoni's helicopter shot. It was an unbelievable journey cut short!"
And the most unbelievable moment in the 2016 blockbuster came in the opening scene when Rajput came out of the dressing room with Dhoni's name inscribed on the back of his shirt to bail India out of a difficult situation in the 2011 World Cup final against Sri Lanka.
As the quintessential Indian fan, you knew that wasn't Dhoni, having of course sat in the theatre to watch a movie made on his life.
And yet, it was hard not to be moved by Rajput who imbibed Dhoni's mannerisms and his gait with such panache that it kept playing on your head like a mesmeric David Gower pull shot long after you had come out of the theatre.
"Before I started working on cricketing skills, I watched him (Dhoni) for hours and hours," Rajput once told Mint.
"My intention was to pick up things, and not have to think about them while shooting-small things, mannerisms, the way he talks. You need to practise these so much that they get wired into you."
Having left an indelible mark on the mind of every sports fan with the riveting performance in that movie, Rajput has left too soon, like the batsman that fails to convert attractive 30s into hundreds.
"Sushant you said we would play tennis together one day .. you were so full of life and laughs .. spreading smiles everywhere you went.. we didn't even know you were hurting this, the world will miss you .. shaking while I write this .. RIP my friend," Sania Mirza wrote a heartfelt tribute to a man who could have played a long innings.
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