Lovers of Bollywood or those unfamiliar with it, will have heard about the tragic loss of one of the industry’s own, Jiah Nafisa Khan. The 25 year old actress, took her own life on Monday at her home in Mumbai. Since her death there has been many theories about what could have led such a talented actress, (who starred alongside one of the legends of Bollywood, Amitabh Bachanan in ‘Nishabd’) to end her own life.
The pretty actress, was said to have committed suicide as a result of a failed relationship with her actor boyfriend Suraj Pancholi, whom she had apparently had her last conversation with. Police recovered her phone and she was said to have spent almost half an hour speaking to him, in talks about possible reconciliation.
He was however rumoured to have let her down and proposed they be best of friends instead. The actress was said to have hung herself after all methods to get back with him prove abortive. In a series of text sent on Monday, she said, ‘Why are you getting so cold’ , ‘Are you dating Neelu’, ‘We have misunderstandings between us, are you meeting me’, all of which were not responded to, but instead all that came through were calls from Suraj and a bouquet of flowers which were reportedly rejected by Jiah.
However some had said it was because of the pressure of being an actress in a patriachal industry such as Bollywood. Jiah, who has starred in three movies already, ‘Nishabd’, ‘Housefull’ and ‘Ghajini’. Her Mother Rabbiya said, ‘Jiah was also unhappy about her career trajectory as no good scripts were coming her way. Jiah had auditioned for a Telugu film in Hyderabad and had apparently been told that she needed to gain weight to bag the role.’. She was also said to have been in talks with director Apoorva Lakhia’s to be cast in upcoming flick, ‘Zanjeer’, but that did not pull through. There were many rejections on the path of getting back into the movie scene. She was advised to network but she reportedly did not want to ‘beg’ for roles.
Jiah was known for her controversial role in debut ‘Nishabd’ in 2007, where she played the role of a teenage girl who becomes romantically inclined with her friend’s father. See poster and trailer below
‘Jiah became more isolated from the industry as the pressure mounted,’ said an insider in Bollywood. ‘Jiah didn’t know how to manipulate her way into a successful career. This, at the end of the day, is a male dominated industry. A big star has the power to make or break any aspiring actor’s career,’ Actor, Raza Murad said at her funeral.
‘Nothing can be more distressing for a newcomer than to be ignored and sidelined. Female aspirants are specially vulnerable to feeling the frustration of failure. That’s why we hear of so many female aspirants ending their lives.’ said Raza Murad. He added, ‘For Jiah, that feeling had become unbearable. It’s very sad that this talented youngster had to take such an extreme step. She had the looks, talent and confidence to become a star but she didn’t belong to any big camp in Bollywood.’.
Tributes have since been pouring in to Jiah, who was British born but migrated to America and then India to catapult her acting career. Actor Amitabh Bachanan tweeted on hearing the news of her death, ‘WHAT …!!! Jiah Khan ??? what has happened ? is this correct ? unbelievable !!!’
‘Just heard about Jiah Khan’s death. Such a lovely actress she was. May her soul rest in peace. Condolences to the affected. #RIPJiahKhan‘ tweeted Sanaya Irana, Bollywood Soap Actress.
Ram Gopal Varma who directed her in ‘Nishabd’ tweeted these, ‘Never ever seen a debutant actress with more spunk and more spirit than Jiah when i was directing her in Nishabd’ and ‘ No matter what her problem was I just so wish she applied her on screen philosophy of Nishabd to her own life which is to .’take lite’ ‘.
Jiah has since been buried on Wednesday according to Hindu religious rites.