Jiah Khan’s suicide exposes the dark side of Bollywood

Stress and fragile relationships have always been a part of tinselville,say Bollywood personalities.

Written by Rika Aash | Mumbai | Published: June 14, 2013 11:15:05 am

Behind the razmatazz of the entertainment industry lies many a sordid tale. Not every story ends on a glorious note as some film celebrities choose to opt out of the uncertainties of the glamour world by committing suicide. Actress Jiah Khan,who was found hanging in her residence last week,joined many such tragic stories of the film world. The starlet’s suicide sent the film industry in a tizzy,especially since she had made a successful debut in Ram Gopal Varma’s Nishabdopposite an actor no less than Amitabh Bachchan. Described as sultry,spunky and talented,the twenty-five-year-old apparently had everything going for her,till her suicide proved it wrong.

Several newcomers enter Bollywood with dreams to make it big,but not everyone can be a star. Film insiders believe that you need to have luck to get a foothold in the industry,and hard work does the rest. Film actress Divya Dutta shares,“Sometimes,you just need to be lucky to get a good role or break in the film. Luck can strike anytime. Some newbies get films while sitting at a beauty parlour,while some superstars end up losing everything.” It is that initial opening that has today actually become the make or break reason to self-destruct.

Career in a limbo

Common to all suicide cases in the glamour industry are the factors of depression and failed relationships. Model Viveka Babajee,model and VJ Nafisa Joseph and television actor Kuljeet Randhawa suffered depression due to failure in their personal lives and career. The same factors have been attributed to Khan,who’s alleged to have been depressed as her career failed to make a headway in Bollywood and a stormy love-life that drove her to self-destruction. Says clinical psychologist Seema Hingorrany,“Most TV stars and upcoming stars in films suffer from depression due to rejection. Some who were successful in the beginning of their careers are unable to deal with the lows when it comes to a standstill. The problem escalates when they don’t have other avenues to bank on. While many turn to alcoholism and drugs,a few tend to take extreme steps like Jiah.”

Lack of support system

The increase in number of mediums to showcase one’s talent has gone up,and so has the competition. Newcomers or strugglers lack support from their peers since they end up competing with each other. Yesteryear actress and television producer,Aruna Irani points out that strugglers lack support within the industry. “Stress and pressure has always been there,but earlier there was support from your associates and family. Aaj kal log jaldi give up karte hai. Earlier when our mothers yelled at us for getting less marks,we took it as challenge to do better. But if a mother does that today,then the kids take the easy way out by committing suicide,” she explains,adding that the industry has become very competitive. “These days there are so many people willing to get into film line. Earlier films was considered taboo,so very few people got into films and hence,there was no competition,” says Irani.

High expectations

Today there’s an endless stream of newcomers,who move away from their families to settle in the city of dreams with a hope to become a star. “There are high expectations from this field,” says actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui,who has struggled for the last 15 years,till he finally started gaining recognition with small,but pivotal roles in films like Peepli Live,Kahaani and others. “When actors are unable to get a good breakthrough in the industry,it leads to negativity or depression,” he adds. Dutta echoes Siddiqui’s point about expectations clashing with reality for strugglers,some of who tend to resort to alternative measures that can harm one’s self-esteem. “People come with high hopes to become a model or actress. When you realise you are going nowhere,you end up getting into prostitution and drugs,” she says.

The outsider

The film industry is still an unorganised industry and can be tough on those without connections within the industry. It needs to create better opportunities for newcomers to be part of the industry. Siddiqui points out,“With industry sons and daughters being launched,the chances of selecting actors with no industry affiliation is less. Actors from small cities find it tough to survive in the industry.” But again,there’s a huge money involved in the making of a film; in such a scenario the risk factor for a film producer also goes up when he makes a film with an unfamiliar face or newcomer. However,producer Ramesh Taurani begs to differ. “Many people do give chance to new faces,” he says adding,“It is the matter of luck. Besides,film-making is not an easy game.”

While there’s no guarantee that suicides will not happen again, a little awareness about the film industry and keeping realistic goals will go a long way in keeping the self destructive streak in check!

(With inputs from Onkar Kulkarni)

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