(Reuters) Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput devours books and always carries one to give him company in between interviews and promotions. He is reading “The Invisible Gorilla”, which is about two subjects he is fascinated with – behavioural economics and cognitive psychology.
Written by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons, the book focuses on the human mind’s penchant for selective attention. For Rajput, who has previously found himself in the middle of controversies and allegations of anger issues, the premise of the book hits home.
“You only see things you want to see. When you have bought a bag or car, you see that car a lot more on the road. If you expect me to be arrogant, you will see things in me that will make you believe I am arrogant,” he told Reuters.
The 31-year-old actor started his career acting in daily soaps. He moved to films in 2013 with Abhishek Kapoor’s “Kai Po Che!” He won accolades last year for his portrayal of Indian cricketer M S Dhoni in the biopic titled “MS Dhoni – The Untold Story”. But Rajput says while the film earned lots of praise and love, it also altered people’s perceptions of him.
“There is a natural tendency to think that someone who has come from TV, never had so much success and now has got a 100-crore (One billion rupees) film, it should all go into his head. Suddenly if I am quiet and confident, they think, ‘Oh, that is how it is.’”
“It is confirmation bias. I was doing exactly the same things even before and nobody judged me like that.”
At the trailer launch of his latest film, “Raabta”, Rajput was asked what he thought of a Pakistani court’s decision to order the execution of Kulbhushan Jadhav, an Indian citizen convicted of spying by Pakistan. Rajput said he didn’t want to comment on the issue and got into an argument with a reporter, who insisted that he answer the question.
“I am smart, I know the popular opinion. I can very well go with it and you won’t be able to touch me but I was honest enough to say I don’t know enough about this issue to comment. No one likes to be misunderstood,” he said.
Troubles with the media aside, Rajput says he is focussing on his career, especially on roles which challenge him.
“Even if the script is not predictable, but the character is, I won’t do the film. In “Raabta”, the theme is reincarnation, which I don’t believe in. But the story hooked me and I wanted to see if I could pull off two characters at the same time,” he said.
Rajput is also doing “Chanda Mama Door Ke” a film about India’s first mission to the moon, and “Drive”, an action film that is envisaged as the first of a franchise.
“I don’t come from a rich family. I dropped out of college and came to Mumbai to act. I lived in a small flat with eight guys, worked from morning till night and still had the best time of my life. There is no fear of losing my fame and money,” he said of his tendency to take on unconventional roles.
For those who think he’s becoming too big for his own boots, Rajput has a clear message: “I still remember the day in October 2006 when I decided to come to Mumbai. In my head, I was already a superstar. I still feel that way. And it is not negotiable. Not debatable. No popular opinion can change that feeling.”