Scoop! How did the late Sushant Singh Rajput inspire Darasing Khurana to open an NGO dealing with mental health issues?

Mr. India 2017, talks about his upcoming film, Bai Ji Kuttange, with Miss Universe 2021 Harnaaz Sandhu and friendship with the Chhichhore actor

Rohit Bhatnagar Updated: Monday, December 20, 2021, 05:57 AM IST

If you thought beauty pageants were only for women, think again. Former Mr. India Darasing Khurana, who worked as a stylist for the likes of Bollywood stars Hrithik Roshan and Vidyut Jammwal, has slowly but steadily been carving a niche for himself. After enthralling everyone with his moves on the ramp, he is all set to make his acting debut with the Punjabi film Bai Ji Kuttange opposite Miss Universe 2021 Harnaaz Sandhu. We caught up with him for an exclusive conversation. Excerpts:

You recently shot for Bai Ji Kuttange with Harnaaz Sandhu. Tell us something about her?

Earlier, we planned to finish the film in one schedule, but due to the lockdown, we got delayed. In December 2020, Harnaaz and I were shooting in the outskirts of Chandigarh in extreme cold. She is an extremely sweet, elegant, compassionate girl. We share a common love for food and desserts. She was worried about her career, and I guided her like an elder brother. That made us even stronger together. I am very protective about her and very proud of what she has achieved. The film is slated to release on May 27, 2022, in theatres.

You also forayed into fashion styling earlier in life…

I belong to a very small place in Maharashtra, but when I moved to Mumbai, I realised that there are so many career options that one can opt for. While I was doing my MBA, a friend of mine was looking for an assistant stylist, and actor-host Maniesh Paul was my first artist. Later, I styled Hrithik Roshan, Sidharth Malhotra, Vidyut Jammwal, etc. I don’t have plans to pursue this as a full-time profession.

It seems that led to making you win the title of Mr. India 2017…

I styled Hrithik when he had gone to sash the 2016 winner of Mr. India, and he encouraged me to try for the title. But later, I forgot and got busy. But one day, while crossing a traffic signal, I saw a hoarding to apply for Mr. India, and I decided to give it a shot. When I was 14 years old, I won the local title and wanted to win Mr. Maharashtra (laughs). However, my family never wanted me to become a model. I went against them. I remember, when I became Mr. India, my father then told me to do something noble for the world.

What inspired you to form an NGO that deals with mental health issues?

The sudden demise of my friend Sushant Singh Rajput inspired me to form this. I had an opportunity to work with him, and he was a visionary. I always looked up to him. During the lockdown, while I was back in my hometown, when the entire nation shook with this sad news, a lot of people posted about reaching them for a conversation if they were feeling low. I did too, and believe me, there was a 17-year old girl from Rajasthan who messaged me to seek help, followed by a 16-year old guy from Gujarat. That is when I thought of starting an NGO that can provide affordable therapy sessions for mental health and wellness. Under Pause.Breathe.Talk, we have a set of 16 therapists who charge only Rs 250.

We heard that you also help people suffering from cancer?

I am the country brand ambassador for a blood stem cell donor organisation called Datri. We are doing well. We have 4,80,000 people registered under us, and we help them find the match for bone marrow.

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Published on: Monday, December 20, 2021, 05:57 AM IST