In her Twitter bio, she described herself as an “actor, poet, singer, musician and dreamer”. But Jiah Khan’s untimely demise on June 3 — reportedly a suicide — has come as nothing less than a nightmare for her fans and industry peers. Six years ago though, her film journey did start like a dream when she bagged the lead role opposite Amitabh Bachchan in Nishabd (2007).
Bollywood was a new world for the 18-year-old, who was born in New York and raised in London. Interestingly, her mother, Rabiya Amin, was a little-known actress remembered by some for appearing in producer Tahir Hussain’s Dulha Bikta Hai (1982).
Jiah studied English literature and Art from MPW College in London, and went on to study Shakespeare and method acting at The Lee Strasberg Institute in New York, where Ranbir Kapoor also studied. Apparently, she quit the course midway when she was offered Tumsa Nahin Dekha (2004) at the age of 16, but reportedly backed out when she realised the role was too mature for her. She was later replaced by Dia Mirza.
Her eventual debut film, Nishabd — despite her much-hyped, bold role — sank at the box office and her career never really took off. Her second film – Ghajini (2008) – did brilliantly, but Jiah got side-lined. In 2010, she appeared in Sajid Khan’s Housefull. Once again, the film’s success didn’t help her.
Barring a few parties and product launches, Jiah disappeared, only to resurface earlier this year with an interview announcing she was back — claiming she “was learning acting in London” and “had taken a deliberate sabbatical”. She also said that she had changed her name back to Nafisa (her original name) and signed new films. Her website says she had also signed a Hollywood film.
Akshay Kumar who worked with Jiah in Housefull (2010) says, “Jiah was adorable. Ever since I worked with her in Housefull, I’ve said that she was one of the most sporting actresses I have ever worked with. We pulled her leg and played pranks on her almost every day on the sets, but she handled every prank we played on her very sweetly. She was very lovable and amazingly kind, and was always happy in her own space. She wasn't interested much in this industry's rat race. But what I remember the most about Jiah was that no matter how shy she felt, she always tried very hard and gave it her all: right from her dancing skills to her Hindi diction, due to which she reminded me a lot of Katrina (Kaif)."
Jiah’s real love affair?
On June 4, Aditya Pancholi’s son Sooraj was reportedly questioned by the Juhu police in the Jiah Khan suicide case (apparently, he made the last call to Jiah, right before she committed suicide). Since 2012, reports were rife that the two were dating. They were allegedly seen at parties and spotted at a nightclub. Back then, Sooraj had told a newspaper that that they were “just good friends”. If reports are to be believed, it was Sooraj who had called off the relationship and that had disturbed Jiah, who had been struggling with regards to work too. Also, it’s believed that she had just returned from Hyderabad a couple of days after auditioning for a film from which she was reportedly rejected. Despite repeated attempts, Sooraj’s parents, Zarina Wahab and Aditya, were unavailable for a comment.
Industry reacts to Jiah Khan’s passing away
A precious, young life has been wasted. Pressures are there in every profession and in personal lives. Life can be cruel, but it’s necessary to be surrounded by loved ones to help them bounce back and not succumb under pressure. - Raveena Tandon, actor
It’s a tragic incident. I met her recently, and she was looking so beautiful. I’ve worked with her in Housefull and we had so much fun while shooting. I’m shocked and I don’t see any reason behind what has happened. - Chunky Pandey, actor
It’s sad, unfortunate and shocking to say the least. I can’t imagine why someone so beautiful and charming would end her life like this. I still can’t believe it. - Neha Dhupia, actor
I am deeply pained to hear this very tragic news. Jiah, was a close family friend and I can only imagine what grief her mother and family must be going through. I wish I had known that she was troubled and needed help. - Aamir Khan, actor
Other bollywood actors who committed suicide
Kunal Singh: The actor of Dil Hi Dil Mein (2000) allegedly committed suicide. He was found hanging at his rented apartment in Andheri in February 2008.
Silk Smitha: The south actor, who was popular for her bold roles, reportedly committed suicide in her Chennai apartment in September 1996.
Nafisa Joseph: The former Miss India-turned-video jockey reportedly hanged herself in her Versova flat in Mumbai in July 2004.
Kuljeet Randhawa: The television actor and model reportedly committed suicide by hanging herself from the ceiling fan of her Juhu apartment in February 2006.
Viveka Babajee: The former model reportedly hanged herself in her Khar apartment in June 2010.