'When I came to Bombay to be an actor, producers and directors looked at me as though I was from another planet.'
Like Shatrughan Sinha, Sushant Singh Rajput hailed from Patna and made his way to Bollywood.
"I can empathise with his struggle," Sinha tells Subhash K Jha.
"This film industry is not kind to outsiders, especially from Bihar. I remember when I came to Bombay to be an actor, producers and directors looked at me as though I was from another planet."
"'Yeh kyon aaya hai? (who is this?)' asked their eyes. When I came here, the heroes were all fair-skinned and cute. I looked just the opposite," Sinha remembers.
"It was a long struggle, bahot dhakke khaney pade (I faced many obstacles). But I never thought of giving up. Suicide was not an option. Why should it be? Life is too precious," Sinha adds.
Sinha wonders what signal Sushant's suicide sends out to youngsters.
"Sushant was young, handsome, talented and successful. When he ended his life, his fans must have wondered why. When you are in the limelight, you have a responsibility towards the public."
About the nepotism debate, Sinha says, "No individual or group can take away what's meant for you."
"Kumar Gaurav, son of superstar Rajendra Kumar, was launched with fanfare. But his career got nowhere," Sinha points out.
"When my friend Amitabh Bachchan came into the film industry, he faced a series of rejections. My daughter Sonakshi was lucky to be launched by Salman Khan, who is a family friend," he says.
"Sushant, who had no Bollywood connections, got launched in Hindi cinema with a film like Kai Po Che! That's the only film I've seen of Sushant, and he was a scene-stealer in it," Sinha recalls.
"I had eyes only for him in spite of the talented Rajkummar Rao in the cast. I could see he had a bright future. I don't know what went wrong."
Sinha recalls meeting Sushant only once.
"He was my daughter Sonakshi's colleague. They met more often. I met him once and he was very charming, well read, polite curious and focused. I felt he had a very bright future ahead."
Then there was the Patna connection.
"His family was least affected by his stardom, just like mine. I am surprised my family has not met Sushant's father in Patna yet. But when I am in Patna next, I will certainly meet his father," says the man who represented the city in the Lok Sabha for two terms.