Skip to main content

Bollywood in shock over star's 'suicide'

By Sumnima Udas, CNN
updated 3:43 AM EDT, Sat June 15, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Indian police are treating actress' death as suicide
  • Jiah Khan's mother found her body at her home last week
  • Khan left a suicide note pouring out private details of her life
  • Police have arrested her boyfriend on suspicion of abetting suicide

Delhi (CNN) -- Appearing alongside some of Bollywood's biggest stars like Amitabh Bachchan and Aamir Khan is a dream for many aspiring young actors in India.

For the beautiful U.S.-born, UK-raised Indian actress Jiah Khan, it became a reality when she was still a teenager.

Driven by ambition and discipline, Khan rose through the ranks of a notoriously cut-throat industry for 10 years, acting in blockbuster films like "Ghajini" and "Housefull."

However, what seemed to be a glittering career ended in tragedy last week when Khan's mother found her body hanging in her Mumbai home. Police told journalists they are treating the 25-year-old's death as suicide.

Small theaters bring Bollywood to masses
Bollywood star sentenced to prison
Bollywood sweethearts tie the knot
Bollywood megastar Aamir Khan opens up

The film industry is in shock.

"She had the naturalness that does not come easy for a first timer... I am distraught that she ended her life," blogged Amitabh Bachchan, who starred in her debut film.

"Never ever seen a debutante actress with more spunk and more spirit than Jiah when I was directing her," tweeted veteran filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma.

While scandal and intrigue is common in Bollywood, suicide is rare.

Some in the industry are now beginning to ask what could have driven someone with so much potential to such despair.

On Monday, Khan's mother gave the police what appears to be Khan's suicide note, police said at a news conference.

Addressing an unnamed person -- possibly her boyfriend -- Khan wrote: "If you are reading this I might have already left or about to leave. I am broken inside. You may not have known this but you affected me deeply to a point where I lost myself in loving you. Yet you torture me everyday."

Suraj Pancholi, the 21-year-old son of Bollywood actor Aditya Pancholi, was Khan's boyfriend. He has since been arrested by Indian police on suspicion of abetting her suicide.

The note added: "Things were looking up for me here, but is it worth it when you constantly feel the pain of heartbreak, when the person you love wants to abuse you or threatens to hit you or cheats on you...throws you out of their house when you have nowhere to go?"

Khan also claims in the note she was forced to have an abortion. "I was scared of getting pregnant but I gave myself completely. The pain you have caused me everyday had destroyed every bit of me, destroyed my soul... I aborted our baby when it hurt me deeply."

Pancholi attended Khan's funeral along with many other Bollywood stars.

It is unclear if he will be prosecuted. In past rulings the Indian Supreme Court has said that to convict a person for abetting suicide, it has to be shown that they instigated it.

Pancholi has not responded publicly but his mother spoke to local media denying the charges.

Meanwhile, Khan's mother says she is determined to fight for justice.

Speaking to CNN's sister network CNN-IBN, she said: "He hit my daughter, he tortured her. I saw bruises on her body. I saw the pain and humiliation she must have gone through. The evidence is with the police. She did not have any emptiness in her life. I am angry, I am in pain."

Khan appeared in three films, two of them blockbusters, but she hadn't been in a movie since 2010.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 2:18 PM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
While aspects of the fighting in Gaza resemble earlier clashes, this time feels different, writes military analyst Rick Francona.
updated 10:38 AM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
The death of an American from Ebola fuels fears of the further global spread of the virus.
updated 8:06 AM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
Nearly two weeks after MH17 was blown out of the sky, Dutch investigators have yet to lay eyes on the wreckage. How useful will it be now?
updated 11:10 AM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
The U.S. and EU are imposing new sanctions on Moscow -- but will they have any effect?
This looks like a ghost ship, but it's actually the site of a tense international standoff between the Philippines and China.
updated 11:55 AM EDT, Sat July 26, 2014
The reported firing of artillery from Russian territory is a sign Vladimir Putin has escalated the Ukraine battle, says CNN's military analyst Rick Francona.
updated 4:46 AM EDT, Sun July 27, 2014
The young boy stops, stares, throws ammunition casings at the reporter's feet without a word.
updated 8:48 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Sure, Fido is a brown Lab. But inside, he may also be a little green.
updated 9:03 AM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Photograph of an undisclosed location by Patrycja Makowska
Patrycja Makowska likes to give enigmatic names to the extraordinarily beautiful photographs she shoots of crumbling palaces.
updated 4:04 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
When the Costa Concordia and its salvage convoy finally depart Giglio, the residents will breathe a sigh of relief -- and shed a tear.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT