Bollywood is reeling today from the news that 25-year-old actress Jiah Khan has been found dead in her Mumbai home of apparent suicide. According to police officials, Khan's body was discovered by her mother on Monday night. She had reportedly hanged herself with a long scarf known as a dupatta.
While those who knew Khan try to understand what could have led a beautiful young starlet to take her own life, details are emerging about this once-promising star's struggle with fame -- and why the fame she achieved from her past roles may have led her to a tragic bout of depression.
Jiah Khan, whose real name was Nafisa Khan, was born in New York and grew up in London before moving to Mumbai. She made her Bollywood debut in 2007 in the Hindi film Nishabd, a Lolita-like story in which she held the lead role of an 18-year-old in love with her best friend's father, played by Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan.
Khan went on to act in two more blockbusters, playing the second lead in the 2008 psychological thriller Ghajini, and a supporting character in the 2010 comedy Housefull. Those films did well at the box office, but some believe Khan was upset about the downward turn her career seemed to be taking.
Her Nishbad director Ram Gopal Varma shared his shock on Twitter, saying,
Never ever seen a debutant actress with more spunk and more spirit than Jiah when I was directing her in Nishabd. I don't know the reason what led to this but jiah was very depressed about her career and scared for her future.
According to the Times of India, Khan's mother told police that her daughter went to an audition on June 2, which hadn't gone well (Khan was apparently told to lose weight). Additionally, Khan may have been dealing with a rocky romantic relationship. While Khan's death isn't being treated as suspicious, police are questioning a man named Suraj, who was the last person to speak with Khan. A last call between the troubled couple happened at 10:53 p.m. on Monday evening, and Khan reportedly hung herself between 11 and 11:30 p.m.
As with all suicides, no one will ever truly know the reasons why Jiah Khan took her own life. She was young and gorgeous and it seemed like she had all the time in the world to achieve her dreams, but we can't know the sort of personal demons she may have been battling.
In a sad twist of fate, Khan's name of choice, Jiah, came from the supermodel Gia Carangi. When she was 16 years old, Khan renamed herself after watching the biopic featuring Angelina Jolie. Gia ultimately died at just 26.
Had you heard of Jiah Khan or her movies?
Image via Maxim