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Jiah Khan,Amitabh Bachchan’s ‘Lolita’,who never topped that role

Jiah,25,who died Monday night,could never really top her debut film,Nishabd.

Written by Harneet Singh |
June 5, 2013 12:31:39 am

“Sometimes I wonder if this is it. I mean,where do you go after making a debut opposite Amitabh Bachchan? How can I ever top it?” Jiah Khan once told me. “But I’m sure God has a plan and he’ll help me figure it out…”

Jiah Khan,25,who died on Monday night,could never really top her debut film,Nishabd. She did get to do a film with Aamir Khan,Ghajini but it couldn’t boost her career as she had hoped it would. She will always be known for playing Lolita to Amitabh Bachchan and for an image of hers in white getting wet with a water sprinkler as he looks at her.

The New York-born,London-bred Jiah said it was after watching Urmila Matondkar in Ram Gopal Varma’s Rangeela that she decided she wanted to be actress in Hindi films. She came to Mumbai and did a bit role in Mani Ratnam’s Dil Se,but it was Nishabd,also by Varma,that brought her into mainstream consciousness.

In an interview,Ram Gopal Varma said he had zeroed in on her because she was “much like the part. She comes from abroad,has an accent and comes from a broken house also.”

Jiah,who had earlier turned down a role in Mukesh Bhatt’s Tumsa Nahin Dekha opposite Emraan Hashmi,accepted the Nishabd role on the insistence of her mother,Rabiya Amin. “My mum said whatever be the fate of the film,it will go down in history. She said Mr Bachchan wouldn’t do this kind of a role ever again,so people will remember it.”

Jiah Khan wanted to be remembered. She was articulate and poised,never gave the impression of being overawed,and had the quotes ready. She once famously declared that “Mr Bachchan smells so nice that I can smell him from a good distance.” It made Mr Bachchan blush.

Her mother was her biggest cheerleader. Jiah would often mention her mother in interviews and conversations. Rabiya too was an actress,best remembered for Dulha Bikta Hai by Tahir Hussain,Aamir’s father. Some tabloids,incidentally,once reported that Jiah was Aamir’s stepsister,a claim Jiah rubbished.

There was some tattle about her name,too,when she decided to go back to Nafisa,her original name. Apparently her friends weren’t keen about this as they felt the name Jiah was lucky for her. It was also the name of her character in Nishabd.

But Jiah was eager to make a fresh start and possibly thought the change of name would help. She was back at networking,meeting directors and making appearances.

Her death suddenly brought her back under public attention. Within minutes of the news,the industry reacted with BBM messages such as “R.I.P. Jiah.”

Celebrity twitter feeds described how she had been so young,so beautiful,so talented — though no one had signed her for a film since 2010’s Housefull.

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