Full speech transcript of Sushant Singh Rajput’s talk in which he describes his journey and his learnings from life, at AVENUES 2016 event at SJMSOM IIT Bombay.
Listen to Audio:
Speaker: Ladies and gentlemen, I will introduce him not as somebody who is the topper… Who’s a winner of the physics Olympiad… not as somebody, who’s a rank holder in an entrance exam, but rather as someone who although is not the sons of the Khan’s and Kapoor’s, but is still hitting double centuries at the box office.
He is dashing. He is dynamic. Ladies and gentlemen, he’s the winner of the youth icon 2016. I request you all to give a huge round of applause to welcome Sushant Singh Rajput.
Sushant Singh Rajput – Actor
Good Morning, everyone. That was a lovely introduction. Thank you so much for that.
I had this habit of carrying cheats in colleges, so…
Well, before we get going, I have a confession to make. I became an actor because I had a problem. I was an introvert. I’m the youngest of my family. And I was so pampered in my house that when I used to step out, I didn’t know how to be with people.
So I gradually… I became this way, shy and introvert kid who could not talk. Well, I still cannot talk. And, uh, I have the stage fright. So in case; Excuse me, if I fall down. Excuse me, if I don’t make sense. Excuse me, if I get a panic attack right now, but I’ll try my best.
So what I do generally as an actor is I hide behind all these fascinating characters and then I’m confident. But, like right now, as I’m not acting, so they are problems that are screwed up.
Alright, I would love to share my journey with you; my learnings. And in case you decide to drop out and join me, it will come very handy. So, I was thinking in the car- What do I talk about?… What can I tell you that you already don’t know?
I’m assuming. And I think most firmly, you guys are much more smarter and better than what I was when I was your age. You already know what the cut-throat competition… you know the importance of hard work, perseverance and, vision, focus, self believe and etc. etc.
So I don’t need to talk about that. But after deep thinking, I zeroed down into two things that I can actually discuss about. These two things talk about chasing your dreams and actually living your dreams. Which unfortunately, nobody mentioned to me when I was starting out.
And those two things are… Can I write down; can you see this board?
(Sushant Singh Rajput writes on white-board)
I always wanted to do this in front of professors… Sorry for that.
So yeah, so those two things are: the biggest lie and the only truth about success that I was told about it.
Now the biggest lie was: Money + Recognition= Happiness = Success
(Money plus recognition is equal to happiness, is equal to success)
So let me begin by mentioning that I come from a way middle-class family. And when I was growing up, money was a big, big, big differentiator in my life. Also in the three generations of my family that I know of; that are documented, nobody knew what fame felt like.
So basically, both money and recognition were missing when I sought it out. So I already started out as a failure. Let me be very precise.
My family told me that I had to become an Engineer. Medicals were booked for my sisters. So once I’m an engineer, then I can, you know, try a civil services examination. And then probably, yeah, that would be like opening the doors for all kind of happiness and I’ll be forever successful, forever happy.
This is the condition that I experienced when I was growing up. All right, fair enough, Good deal. So I became very good in studies- did fairly well in my 10th board exams, and then off I went to Delhi for my Plus Two(Class 12th), got myself enrolled in a nice school, and Vidya Mandir, FITJEE and half a dozen other coaching institutes.
And, I used to share my room with three other similar aspirants. What it meant was every day after finishing my assignments, school assignments and preparing for my engineering entrance exam, I had to wash my clothes and I had to cook food for myself, but I wasn’t complaining. Well, it was it because after all I was, for the very first time in my life, I was so close to become successful for the first time in my life.
So, yeah, finally I slogged, I got selected for several engineering colleges and I decided to take admission in Delhi College of Engineering.
Audience: DCE… DCE…
Sushant Singh Rajput: Now known as DTU… Thank you, were you my senior or junior?
(Audience laughing and clapping)
So, yeah, so, there was a celebration like this in my family too. Finally, I could stop for a while. And breathe. I was telling myself that, ‘you know what, now you’ve made it. You should be happy because you’re supposed to be happy.’
But it wasn’t working that much. Something was missing. There was a void that I could feel. So I thought maybe something bigger was required. For some reason, incessantly, while of the first 18/19 years of my life, the future me was much happier, much successful than the present me. So I was like alright fine. So I was forcing myself.
As I promised, I started preparing my civil services examination and I was supposing myself to slog. But I was bored. UPSC exams was too far away. In the meantime I thought of doing theater. And, I thought to learn dance because to counter the shyness that I had still have. And also because there were no girls in my engineering course, for some reason.
I felt cheated, man, we slog so much… you crack the entrance exam, and then you find that there are no girls. So somebody told me that there are very good looking girls in dance schools. So I was like, ‘fine, I’ll go there.’
And once I started performing arts, I knew one thing for sure: I knew that I quite like it. And 3 years later, Imagine me sitting in the campus and I’m thinking- All right, I’m really interested in performing arts. And all I want to do is to earn money and to be recognized. So if I become a movie star, Hmm,
I actually was very serious. And I dropped out in the third year when I was just two semesters away from getting the degree… engineering degree. Came to Mumbai, got heavily into theater and also the skills that I thought were necessary to become an actor.
And by the way, this time I stayed with six other guys in a single-room-kitchen. But this time I was prepared for it. This time, there was one difference: I was driven. My self-respect was at stake. My ex-college mates, one of them is sitting right here, I’m not sure; they thought that I was that disaster, that folks in engineering and B-schools should never become.
So I had to prove a point to everybody. I had to prove a point to my family. Most importantly, I had to prove a point to myself.
And this was the time when I was also a background dancer. So I was dancing behind all the possible stars that you can think of- Shah Rukh Khan, Shahid Kapoor, everybody. And I was thinking…I was thinking to myself while performing– ‘Okay, It’s just three steps away. There I have to get and everything will be sorted.’
And I kept going like that. And two years later, guess what? I got myself, my first big break, I was selected for a prime time show on the TV. Now, hear me out. It was a seriously, a big-break because I started earning, people started recognizing me. To be honest, I would deliberately go and roam in all these malls so that people could look at me, smile, ask to me autograph.
And I was watching myself on TV for the first time, you have no idea how it feels for somebody like me, and I was looking at myself every day on TV. It was a big, big, big high. I also suddenly discovered that I actually had many friends who were absent on this way, but suddenly they popped up.
And the show became popular. I was making good money to a point that money stop being a differentiator in my life. And I was becoming more and more popular. Now I cannot go to all those malls that I was going all alone. So I wanted somebody to be with me, to save me. So, you know what I’m saying?
I bought myself first dream house. I bought myself my dream car. And just to note to you as well, I was getting such female attention that my engineering college friends could only possibly dream of.
Well, I was having a time of my life and then something unusual happened. I got used to everything and I felt cheated. I stayed with all these dreams for 10 and 15 years of my life. I was promised happiness and I was promised success. But all of these things stayed with me just for few days.
And I’m punctuating me because I started from zero money and zero commission. So I was not happy. How could that be? I didn’t like this version of success. And the future of me again, was living in the present me, but this time I decided otherwise. I would do something else.
So that gets us to the second point, which is the only truth. I won’t take too much time on, just try to keep it short. I figured something. I figured that something, seemingly big things, were not that big once I got them.
And looking back in the past, I realized that maybe smaller things were way bigger. And there was one thing that was missing in my life that was the cause of this illusion. And that thing that was missing was NOW.
I was all of these years, just, I was obsessed about what’s going to happen. I used to draw those flow-charts that we are taught in schools– ‘If this happens, I’ll do that… And six months from now, I’ll be here…’
So I wanted to be in control. I was so obsessed about my future. I was taking the entire responsibility about the past, but all I was doing was frequently swinging from past to future, not living in actual sense.
Well, I also figured that when I perform on stage or in front of camera, I’m so much excited. I am so much interested. I was paying so much attention that there was no room to think about future or the past. I was just there in the moment. I was alive in true sense when I was performing.
And for the first time, trust me in a long time, I understood the true meaning of success, which was not Money plus Recognition, but it was Now plus Excitement.
This realization happened in 2011 and it has been five years. Now, let me share another very short story with you:
When I was in school, 4:00 to 5:30 PM was the time when I was allowed to go out and play. I was asked to be an engineer, but the entire, I used to wait for 4:00 PM to happen. I would step out. And the next one and a half hours felt like five minutes. I didn’t understand this then, but now very honestly, very confidently, I can tell you this, that I’m living that 4:00 to 5:30 life right now, since last 5 years.
Cause and effects are not different. Excitement is the cause, Excitement is the effect.
I get tired again and again, because all of these success mantras that we talk about, you know, hard work, belief, focused, vision, risk-taking talent, perseverance, you can go on and on. But all of these success mantras are the side effects of the process itself- ‘I’m so engaged… It commands my attention so much that there’s nothing else that I can think about.’ So hard work doesn’t feels like hard work. And there’s nothing else that you can do but to persist.
A talent– You will cultivate.
Vision– You’ll get.
Focus– There is no other way because it’s commanding attention so much.
So here I am right now, five years down the line, money and fame, all of those still could not earn back their reputation my life. But let me show you one thing, I have much more of them than I ever planned.
And the best thing, my college- one of the professors was very dear to me called me recently, about, asking me to plan this interaction with students. And I very humbly requested that “can I get my degree back”
And it’s happening. And I’m very excited.
Again, thank you so much.
– Sushant Singh Rajput