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They died to save themselves

The spate of suicides by small screen stars has shaken the fledgling industry in the Tamil Nadu.

india Updated: May 29, 2006 00:00 IST

On screen, they face challenges, plot their rivals’ downfall and breeze through prisons and courts.

Off screen, they opt for the the easy way out — suicide. Three famous faces of Tamil tele-serials and talk shows have committed suicide over the past year. While the suicide of Shalini, a bubbly anchor, a year ago is still shrouded in mystery, Vaishnavi, another budding star hanged herself to death last month after an extra-marital affair with a co-star soured.

The latest to join the death-list is starlet Shredha. She was found hanging in her bedroom a week ago.

The spate of suicides by small screen stars has shaken the fledgling industry in the state.

“Many young stars are unable to handle the success and fame that comes with such instant stardom. Their families exert tremendous pressure on them once they become more than just breadwinners. Many of them are pushed into ventures floated by unscrupulous elements and suffer in the process,” said Viduthulai, secretary of TV Directors’ Forum.

“Either failed love affairs with co-stars or intense family pressures are the key factors behind actresses resorting to such extreme steps,” said Mounika, a television veteran. The television actors council recently organized a workshop and counseling for its members and the facts which it threw up stunned even experts.

“Ninety per cent of the stars who came for counseling confided that they had contemplated suicide some time during their career. Most cited family pressure, loneliness and intense competition as the reasons,” said psychologist C.R. Celin, who conducted the programme.

Director C.J. Bhaskar felt that when actors are paired for months on an end as a couple, some of the proximity and affection of the screen-relationship rubbed off on their personal lives as well. Celin suggests that stars should be coached to step out of their roles once they are off the sets and spend quality time with families. Actress Radhika, one of the most popular faces of Tamil television, says, “Be the brave girl that you portray on the small screen.”