The morning of September 2nd won’t be something that many will move on. It was in the flush of the morning when murmurs of a popular TV actor Sidharth Shukla’s sudden demise started unfurling. While there was still no clarity, as soon as the confirmed reports arrived, everyone was bewildered. Everyone – those who knew the actor, those who were fans of the thesp, or even the ones who weren’t enchanted by his charisma – was numb.
In 2004, Sidharth Shukla, fresh out of a beauty pageant, was presented for the first time in a music video. The song was Ila Arun’s rendition of the famous Rajasthani folk song Resham Ka Rumal. Paired opposite another Bigg Boss contestant Monalisa, Sidharth did leave a mark, however, not prominent enough to make him the next big face. Nonetheless, he did become a face to reckon in the modelling world. In 2005, a 25-year-old Sidharth was crowned Best Model of the World, beating 40 aspirants from Asia, Latin America, and Europe. This was the first time an Indian or an Asian, for that matter, won that title. It was destined, the man was supposed to achieve what nobody could, right at the onset of his métier.
While he aspired to land a Bollywood film, four years of struggle got him a prime-time soap. Thus, Sidharth Shukla embarked on his journey as an actor with the idiot box. Be that as it may, Sidharth’s career didn’t soar high in four years and three shows. The shows tanked and were plugged off-air briskly. In 2012, after a series of lacklustre shows, Sidharth entered the already then-popular Balika Vadhu. Shiv, the character played by Sidharth, was supposed to be a cameo. However, the reverence for the character was so much amidst the audience that he became the protagonist in a few weeks, but his exit dropped the show’s ratings.
This was the beginning of the stardom that Sidharth was going to relish in the coming years. Sidharth went on to do films, TV soaps, and several reality shows. He became a superstar like never before. Journalists eyed for his interviews, and digital sites witnessed massive views with just the mention of his name, multiple controversies from his daily soap and reality shows surfed around the actor. Yet, Sidharth remained nonchalant.
Maybe that is why TV czarina Ekta Kapoor saw something in him. Kapoor clearly wanted Sidharth as Agastya Rao for the third instalment of her popular franchise Broken but Beautiful on ALTBalaji. And it was indeed one of the wisest decisions. Sidharth breathed life in Agastya. Even the ones who didn’t like the show would agree that no one could have or would play Agastya with such finesse as Shukla did.
Priyanka Ghose, the director of the series, recalls Sidharth being the “heart of the party”. She reminisces, “Sidharth was absolute livewire energy on sets. Amidst all his banter and fun, he was super observant. He never missed a single thing that happened on set, even if it didn’t involve him. He was someone who could make everyone around him comfortable. However, his focus was unshakeable. Having him on set was full of positivity & he was always my support system.” While filming the third part Ghose connected strongly with the actor. A void has been created in her life with his absence. “I am the one who is broken, now that I am left without one of my closest friends, creative collaborator and, a constant guide; while he shall always remain beautiful,” she laments.
Sidharth’s journey was not supposed to be cut short in a twinkling of an eye. The actor was set to reprise his character Agastya in the fourth season of Broken but Beautiful. Showrunner Sarita Tanwar rues how destiny had its plan. “In August, we got a call from ALTBalaji. This was to meet and discuss the story for Broken but Beautiful season 4,” she unbosoms, “Yes, #AgMi was going to happen with a fairytale happy ending. But it was not meant to be!” On the series plans, Sarita adds, “I cannot imagine Broken but Beautiful 4 without Sidharth Shukla. It is said, ‘It’s hard to turn the page when you know someone won’t be in the next chapter, but the story must go on.’ It’s most true in this industry. However, it’s too soon to even think about it. Broken but Beautiful 3 was his digital debut; unfortunately, it will forever be remembered as his last release. The song has ended. But the melody lingers on.”