'Difficult to process': Cricket world in shock over 'disturbing' tragedy

Sam Goodwin
Sports Editor
MS Dhoni and Sushant Singh Rajput at the Premiere of 'MS Dhoni: The Untold Story' in Mumbai. (Photo by Milind Shelte/The India Today Group via Getty Images)

The cricket world has felt the tragic death of Bollywood star Sushant Singh Rajput, who died at age 34 on Sunday.

Rajput’s death has sent shockwaves through the Indian film industry and rekindled a national debate about mental health.

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Rajput was found dead on Sunday in his Mumbai apartment, with police saying there are no suspicious circumstances.

He’s also being mourned in the cricket world, with a number of the sport’s stars expressing their disbelief.

Rajput played Indian cricket legend MS Dhoni in the film ‘MS Dhoni: The Untold Story’ and was close with a number of cricket identities.

Aussie great Shane Watson, who has enjoyed a successful career in the Indian Premier League, said he couldn’t stop thinking about the tragedy.

“I can’t stop thinking about Sushant Singh Rajput. It is just so tragic," Watson tweeted.

“In The Untold Story, at times you forgot whether it was Sushant or MSD. Amazing portrayal and now the world is much poorer with him not here in it.”

Dhoni is yet to comment but manager Arun Padley said the 38-year-old is “very morose”.

Dhoni’s childhood coach Keshav Banerjee summed up the grief.

“I am saddened to see the young actor gone so soon,” Banerjee told Republic TV.

“He had practised cricket with me while preparing for his role in ‘MS Dhoni: The Untold Story’.

“He practised very well and did justice to the role. I do not know how to express the grief over his loss. Working with him made me realise how humble a Bollywood star can be.

“He was willing to sharpen his skills to portray his role as MS Dhoni perfectly. I was very satisfied with his performance (and) extremely saddened to learn about his demise.”

Indian legend Sachin Tendulkar said he was “shocked and sad”, while David Warner and Virat Kohli were among others to comment.

Rajput’s death sparks debate about mental health

A star of hits on the big and small screen, Rajput died just days after the shock death of his former manager, Disha Salian.

Those attending his funeral on Monday included Shraddha Kapoor, who starred with Rajput in his last movie release ‘Chhichhore, which dealt with societal pressure and mental health.

Others, including actress Kriti Sanon and producer Ekta Kapoor, joined Rajput’s family in heavy monsoon rain to pay their last respects as his body was cremated according to Hindu rituals.

The young actor's death has sparked emotional discussion on social media about mental health, with stars including Deepika Padukone and Anushka Sharma posting messages about the importance of seeking help.

Born in the eastern state of Bihar, Rajput quit engineering studies to pursue a career in acting and dance.

He got his big break in 2013 with ‘Kai Po Che’, a film about cricket, love, and politics that won acclaim at the Berlin film festival.

He was lauded for his portrayal of Dhoni in 2016, telling AFP about the emotional rollercoaster he experienced while filming the movie, which also showed the heartbreak suffered by the ex-skipper when his former girlfriend died.

“It was very difficult because, after we did the preparation, in my head I was him and everything that was happening was actually affecting me,” he said.

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with AFP