The sudden death of Bollywood starlet Jiah Khan has taken the Indian film community by surprise. Khan wasn't a big name in the industry, but she had worked with some of the biggest and was still young enough to have a lot of potential in front of her. Her suicide has garnered shocked reactions from around the industry. Bollywood celebrities have taken to Twitter to express their grief and surprise over this tragic and senseless loss. You can find lots of those tributes and reactions here at The Guardian.
The New York born actress made her starring debut at age 18 in Ram Gopal Varma's Nishabd, a film "inspired" by American Beauty. Khan played the Mena Suvari role, and the inimitable Amitabh Bachchan played the Kevin Spacey role. The 2007 film won her critical praise and a Filmfare Award for Best Female Debut Performance should have led to a bigger break in the industry. For a moment it looked good, she appeared in Aamir Khan and AR Murugadoss's Ghajini in 2008, a film that broke the all-time Bollywood box office record. Her next role wouldn't come until 2010 with yet another box office behemoth, Sajid Khan's Housefull. Always the bridesmaid and never the bride, Jiah Khan never quite managed to break through the way she wanted to.
Bollywood is a notoriously difficult industry to break into, and Khan just wasn't quite able to make the connections. There is some speculation that her personal issues reached beyond professional concerns, with the police having questioned her boyfriend Suraj Pancholi, immediately following the incident as he was apparently the last to speak to her. The real shame is that anyone so young feels that there is nothing left to live for. As a person who has worked very hard through my own depression, I feel empathy for her, and sadness for those she leaves behind.
Jiah Khan was only 25 years old. The above photo comes from her own Twitter account less than two months ago. Below you can find Jiah's fantastic performance in the AR Rahman song "Latoo" from Ghajini.