Jiah Khan: Bollywood Sweetheart Dead At 25 From Apparent Suicide

Bollywood actress Jiah Khan was found dead in what has been ruled a suicide. Her mother found her hanged in her room on Monday night in her home in Mumbai. She was 25.

Details are sparse on what may have caused the young actress to turn to suicide. The police have questioned Suraj Pancholi, believed to be Khan’s boyfriend, to whom Khan had made her last phone call before her death. However, they are not treating the death as suspicious.

Born Nafisa Khan, she grew up in London and studied acting at the Lee Strasberg Institute in New York. She began to get attention in Bollywood with her role in Ram Gopal Varma’s Nishabd in 2007 opposite Amitabh Bachchan, one of the giants of Indian film. The film was not successful and received mixed reviews, but Khan was widely praised and was nominated for a Filmfare Best Debut award. She went on to play supporting roles in successful films such as Ghajini in 2008 and Housefull in 2010. She was a supporter of PETA and UNICEF.

Khan had not worked in the last three years. She changed her name back to Nafisa and was living with her mother in Mumbai. According to the Times of India, a source close to Khan said that “she had been depressed for some time due to personal issues, but was keen on returning to acting soon.” Her last tweet, which she posted on May 24, said “So sorry I have been off twitter! Took a bit of a break from twitter verse ... sometimes u need a sabbatical to recollect ur thoughts.”

As news spread of Khan’s death, many of her Bollywood costars and colleagues expressed their shock and sorrow via Twitter. Ram Gopal Varma, her director in “Nishabd,” tweeted, “Never ever seen a debutant actress with more spunk and more spirit than Jiah when i was directing her in Nishabd” and “No matter what her problem was I just so wish she applied her on screen philosophy of Nishabd to her own life which is to 'take lite.'" Dia Mirza, a fellow Bollywood actress, tweeted “RIP Nafisa(Jiah) Khan. You were too young and beautiful ...”

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Morgan McDaniel

Morgan is a feminist writer and activist. She speaks Arabic and has traveled and studied in Jordan and the West Bank.

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