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

Shoba, Sushant and Silk Smitha

The curse of suicide has haunted Indian showbiz since time immemorial.

Iconic actor-director Guru Dutt, south Indian stars Shoba, Silk Smitha and actor Jiah Khan are among the precious lives the industry lost.

The latest addition in this worrisome list is   

Bollywood star Sushant Singh Rajput. The film industry is known for its rigorous demands from newcomers as well as stars and many fall into depression, when they are unable to cope with it.  

Known for films like "Kai Po Che!", "MS Dhoni: The Untold Story" and "Chhichhore", Rajput was found hanging at his Bandra home, the police said on Sunday. The Bollywood sensation was just 34.

Rajput's last screen appearance was Nitesh Tiwari's 2019 film Chhichhore. And his last social media post, dedicated to his late mother who died in 2002 when he was a teen, was on June 3. It was perhaps a pointer to his troubled days. 

ALSO READ: Shocking suicides: Actors who stunned us with their sudden exits

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

Precious lives 

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 what was then Bombay. 

He was 39. The filmmaker, whose real name was Vasanth Kumar Shivashankar Padukone, was reportedly on a heavy mix dose of alcohol and sleeping pills for some time when the demise happened. Dutt's death may have been suicide or just an accidental overdose. His son, Arun Dutt, considered the death to be an accident.

South star Mahalakshmi Menon, best known by her stagename Shoba, committed suicide at the age of 17. Incidentally the demise occurred the same year she won the National Award for Best Actress for the film Pasi, released the previous year. She ended her life on May 1, 1980. The talented actress was found dead at her residence in Chennai, then Madras. The manner of Shoba’s death, however, remains cloaked in mystery.

 Guru Dutt
Guru Dutt

Four years after Shoba died, her mother Prema who was also an actress, too committed suicide. Malyalam director KG George's 1983 film Lekhayude Maranam – Oru Flashback is roughly based on Shobha's life.

Actor Vijaylakshmi, known in the industry as Silk Smitha, was a much sought out sex symbol in south Indian film industry. 

She reportedly took her own life at the age of 33 in 1996. She appeared in over 200 films, including "Vandichakkaram", "Moondru Mugam" and was wading into controversy after the other with alarming regularity.

Silk Smitha was immortalised on screen in the 2011 film "The Dirty Picture", starring Vidya Balan. 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 Mumbai in 2004. She was just 25.

Silk Smitha

Joseph, who was Miss India in 1997, had worked as a model and had been an animal rights activist.

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. Jiah 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.

CBI starts probe in Jiah Khan death case
Jiah Khan

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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