Udayavni Special

From Guru Dutt to Sushant Singh Rajput: A look at suicides in Indian cinema

Team Udayavani, Jun 15, 2020, 8:58 AM IST

New Delhi: The curse of suicide has haunted the showbiz since time immemorial with the likes of iconic actor-director Guru Dutt, South star Silk Smitha, actor Jiah Khan and now Bollywood star Sushant Singh Rajput giving up on life in the Indian film industry known for being harsh and demanding of its stars.

Known for films like “Kai Po Che!”, “MS Dhoni: The Untold Story”, “Chhichhore”, Rajput was found hanging at his Bandra home, the police said on Sunday. He was 34.

Rajput’s last screen appearance was Nitesh Tiwari’s 2019 film “Chhichhore”, where he played the role of a father who conveys a message of hope and affirmation to his son who has attempted to kill himself.

And his last social media post, dedicated to his late mother who died in 2002 when he was a young teen, was on June 3, a foretelling perhaps on what to come.

“Blurred past evaporating from teardrops. Unending dreams carving an arc of smile. And a fleeting life, negotiating between the two,” he wrote on Instagram post with a black and white photograph of his mother.

Rajput’s sudden death comes days after his former manager, 28-year-old Disha Salian, ended her life by jumping from a high rise building on June 9.

“It’s such devastating news. My deepest condolences to Disha”s family and friends. May your soul rest in peace,” he had said, mourning her death.

Guru Dutt, known for black-and-white classics like “Kaagaz Ke Phool”, “Baazi”, and “Pyaasa”, was found dead on October 10, 1964 in his bed in his rented apartment at Pedder Road in erstwhile Bombay. He was 39.

The filmmaker, whose real name was Vasanth Kumar Shivashankar Padukone, was said to have been mixing alcohol and sleeping pills.

Dutt’s death may have been suicide or just an accidental overdose. His son, Arun Dutt, considered the death to be an accident.

Actor Vijaylakshmi, who reached the iconic status of a sex symbol in Tamil cinema during her time, as Silk Smitha died at the age of 33 as the result of a suspected suicide in 1996. She appeared in over 200 films, including “Vandichakkaram”, “Moondru Mugam”, a most sought after actor at a time was said to be neck deep in controversies.

She was immortalised on screen in the 2011 film “The Dirty Picture”, starring Vidya Balan as Silk. The Milan Luthria-directed film, which showed the highs and lows of the dancing star, was inspired by the actor”s life.

Former Miss India and video jockey Nafisa Joseph was found hanging at her residence in Versova in 2004 at the age of 25.

Joseph, who won the Miss India title in 1997, had worked as a model and had been involved in activities related to animal rights.

In 2006, model-turned television actor Kuljeet Randhawa, known for starring in high-school drama “Hip Hip Hurray!”, suspense serial “Kohinoor” and crime thriller drama “Special Squad”, allegedly committed suicide by hanging herself in her single room apartment in suburban Juhu. She was 25.

Kunal Singh, best known for starring opposite actor Sonali Bendre in the 1999 Tamil romance film “Kadhalar Dhinam”, was found hanging from the ceiling fan in his Mumbai apartment in 2008. He was 30.

British-American actor Jiah Khan, best known for films like “Nishabd” with megastar Amitabh Bachchan and “Ghajini” with Aamir Khan, was found hanging at her Mumbai residence on June 3, 2013 by her mother Rabiya Khan. Khan was 25.

It was deemed a suicide and reconfirmed as a suicide in 2016 following an extensive investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and a hearing at the Bombay High Court.

Khan”s mother blamed her boyfriend, actor Sooraj Pancholi, for her death. He was charged with abetting Khan”s suicide. The case has not yet been settled.

Last year, actor Kushal Punjabi, who appeared in films such as “Kaal” and “Lakshya” as well as the reality show “Fear Factor”, was found hanging in his Bandra apartment. He was 42.

Punjabi, whose body was found by his parents in the wee hours of December 27, left behind a suicide note in which he said nobody should be held responsible for his death.

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