MUMBAI: Filmmaker Abhishek Kapoor, who on Monday marked eight years of his drama "Kai Po Che!", said he is touched by the love the film continues to receive but is pained by the loss of actor Sushant Singh Rajput.
Released on February 22, 2013, "Kai Po Che!" marked Rajput's Bollywood debut after a successful career on TV with the hit show "Pavitra Rishta". Kapoor's film was also a stepping stone for actors Rajkummar Rao and Amit Sadh, who were relatively new in the movies.
Mourning the loss of Rajput, who was found dead in his Bandra apartment in June last year, the director called the 34-year-old actor a "crown jewel". Kapoor took to Twitter and posted the video of the hit "Manjha" track from the film.
"The thrill of starting this journey with a new team hungry to give their best at the dawn of their careers stands most vividly in mind. One can't quantify the love our film continues to receive over the years, neither can we quantify the pain we feel at the loss of our crown jewel," the 49-year-old director wrote.
Set in Gujarat, "Kai Po Che!" chronicles the story of three friends -- played by Rajput, Rao and Sadh -- as they navigate their way through the 2001 Gujarat earthquake, the Godhra train burning in 2002 and the subsequent riots.
Based on author Chetan Bhagat's 2008 novel "The 3 Mistakes of My Life", the film garnered acclaim for its performances by the three leads, Amit Trivedi's music and sensitive handling of the story by Kapoor. The film propelled Rajput to stardom, as he went on to feature in Yash Raj Films' "Shuddh Desi Romance" (2013) and Rajkumar Hirani's "PK" in 2014.
Later, he headlined blockbusters like the 2016 biopic "MS Dhoni: The Untold Story", Nitesh Tiwari's "Chhichhore" and reunited with Kapoor for romantic-drama "Kedarnath" in 2018.
Rao, too, had a career turnaround with "Kai Po Che!" and from there on he went on to feature in acclaimed films like "Shahid" for which he earned the best actor National Award, 2014's hit "Queen" and 2015 drama "Aligarh".
Post the film, Sadh's next major project was superstar Salman Khan's "Sultan" in 2016. The actor had a packed 2020, with three film releases and two web series. Meanwhile, Kapoor is gearing up for the release of his next directorial, "Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui", featuring Ayushmann Khurrana and Vaani Kapoor, in July.