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HindustanTimes Fri,18 Apr 2014

Starry Suicides: pressures of being a celeb

Gautaman Bhaskaran, Hindustan Times   January 06, 2014
First Published: 19:55 IST(6/1/2014) | Last Updated: 19:58 IST(6/1/2014)
The suicide of 33-year-old Telugu actor, Uday Kiran, in Hyderabad on Sunday reaffirms the pressures and pain that stars often face, and sometimes succumb to. There have been times in the history of cinema when actors depressed over and frustrated with not as much their careers as their private lives, have killed themselves.
 
One of the most famous star suicides was that of the American actress, Marilyn Monroe, in 1962. She was just 36. She was an international icon, whose films, such as Gentleman Prefer Blondes, How to Marry a Millionaire, Some Like It Hot and The Seven Year Itch, jingled the box office like nothing else.
 
And Monroe, despite an unhappy childhood, could have had any man. She did, in fact. She was reportedly seeing two of America's most powerful men - at the same time. And they were brothers, one the President and the other, Attorney General. She had also been married to the Pulitzer winning dramatist, Arthur Miller. But Monroe was an unhappy soul, who overdosed herself with barbiturates. Or was it murder as some had suspected.
 
More recently, last year, Jiah Khan hung herself in her Mumbai flat. She was 25, and was well known for her role as the young seductress tempting the Amitabh Bachchan character in Nishabd. She also played opposite Aamir Khan in Ghajini. She was in love with Suraj Pancholi, son of Aditya Pancholi and Zarina Wahab, and when the affair with the guy  soured, she bid goodbye to life, but not before leaving behind a long, six-page suicide note in which she talks about her relationship with Suraj. He landed in jail, and is now out.
 
Another actress who committed suicide because of a supposedly failed relationship was the South Indian actress, Shobha. She was only 17 when she died in 1980, also after she had hung herself in her Chennai flat. The man in her life was a renowned movie director, who made great cinema. Shobha's Pasi (Hunger) had just then fetched her a National Award. A great performer, she did not, though, think that fame and stardom were substitutes for love and joy, which she felt only a man could give her. Maybe one man. 
 
And then there was Guru Dutt. He died in 1964. He was barely 39, and had taken sleeping pills to end his life. This was his third attempt at suicide, and he succeeded. He was a brilliant helmer as he was an excellent actor, who made films (Pyaasa, Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam, Chaudhvin Ka Chand, Kaagaz Ke Phool) that were far ahead of his time. More importantly, he made Waheeda Rehman into one of the finest actresses Indian cinema has ever seen. Was he deeply in love with her? Was that the cause of his fatal despair? We can only assume.
 
And now we have Kiran. On Sunday, his new wife (they were married in 2012), came back home rushing from a party to find him hanging from the ceiling in their Hyderabad flat. Her repeated calls to him had earlier gone unanswered.
 
He was said to have been dejected after his mother's death some years ago, and his relationship with his father was strained. But he had told his friends that he would commit suicide. Maybe nobody believed him, as is often the case.
 
Monroe had been calling people the night she committed suicide, but none responded. Had one of them spoken to her, he or she might have talked Monroe out of that self-inflicted tragedy.
 
Although, his career was not exactly on a high now, Kiran was only 33 and life did hold out the promise of starry times. But like Monroe, like Shobha, like Jiah, like Dutt, Uday was perhaps not driven by his professional graph as he probably was by his personal disenchantment.
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