Their lives were snuffed out prematurely… and violently. These sudden and untimely deaths came as a shock to the country at large and to the friends and family of the departed ones in particular. Whether suicide or something more sinister, these celebrity deaths continue to spark speculation and spawn conspiracy theories…
Sridevi (13 August 1963 – 24 February 2018)
Dubbed the first female superstar and ranked amongst the highest-paid actors in the 1980s and 1990s, Sridevi’s recent death has been shrouded in mystery. Found dead in Dubai, it was earlier announced that the cause of death was a cardiac arrest. However, the forensic report released by Dubai Police indicates that Sridevi died of accidental drowning in the bathtub of her suite. Traces of alcohol were found in her body and water was found in her lungs.
Parveen Babi (4 April 1949 – 20 January 2005)
From being the big screen’s darling, featured on the cover of Time Magazine in 1976, to her mental fragility and struggle with paranoid schizophrenia, Parveen Babi’s life was marked by extreme ups and downs. She lived a lonely life and met a lonelier death in 2005. Her body was only discovered days after she passed away, leaving the exact cause of her demise a mystery. Investigations indicated that she had starved to death.
Pratyusha Banerjee (10 August 1991 – 1 April 2016)
Famous for her TV serial, 'Balika Vadhu', Pratyusha apparently committed suicide at her Mumbai residence in 2016. Her parents and close friends blamed her boyfriend Rahul Raj Singh for her untimely demise. It was alleged that he did not help her through her depression and extorted money from her. However, it was also no secret that she was unhappy with her career and was under financial strain.
Manmohan Desai (26 February 1937 – 1 March 1994)
The director of such timeless films as Amar Akbar Anthony, Coolie, and Dharam Veer, Manji, as he was called, ended his life jumping off the balcony of his Girgaon flat. News reports claimed that the railing he was leaning on collapsed and he fell to his death. It was rumoured that he took this harsh step due to his career which had hit a low patch, compounded by his chronic back pain.
Shikha Joshi (Died: 16 May 2015)
The actress, who was last seen in the film BA Pass, committed suicide by slitting her throat at her MHADA flat in Versova, Mumbai. Again, professional woes were reported to be the reason for her extreme step. Shikha was reportedly frustrated by her career which was going nowhere. However, her friend recorded her dying statement wherein she named cosmetic surgeon Dr Vijay Sharma and "many married men" as responsible for her decision to commit suicide.
Divya Bharti (25 February 1974 – 5 April 1993)
The gorgeous actress, just 19 and poised for greatness, reached a tragic and untimely end. Divya fell to her death from the fifth floor of her Versova apartment. Several allegations were made as to the cause of her death. Eventually, it was concluded as a case of suicide. Till today, mystery surrounds the reason behind her tragic passing.
Jiah Khan (20 February 1988 – 3 June 2013)
Despite a sensational debut in Ramgopal Varma’s Nishabdh, Jiah Khan’s career failed to take off. The actress, who was in a relationship with Sooraj Pancholi, was found hanging from the ceiling of her Juhu apartment. Her mother Rabia Khan alleged that it was murder, naming Aditya Pancholi’s son as responsible for Jiah’s death. He has been charged and the case is currently in court.
Guru Dutt (9 July 1925 – 10 October 1964)
Actor, producer and director of stunning classics like Pyaasa, Kaagaz Ke Phool, Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam, and Chaudhvin Ka Chand, Guru Dutt was found dead due to an alcohol and sleeping pill overdose. Dutt was said to be suffering from depression and alcoholism. At the time of his death, he had separated from his singer wife Geeta Dutt and was living alone. His rumoured relationship with Waheeda Rehman was said to be one of the reasons for the couple’s split.
Silk Smitha (2 December 1960 – 23 September 1996)
Vijayalakshmi Vadlapati a.k.a. Silk Smitha was the undisputed sex siren of the South industry. On the night of September 22, 1996 she had contacted her friend, dancer Anuradha, to discuss a matter that was disturbing her. Anuradha promised to meet her the following morning. Silk was found death the next day in her Chennai home. While some believe it was suicide brought on by depression over her debts, alcoholism and failed romances, others suggested foul play.
Kunal Singh (29 September 1977 – 7 February 2008)
The actor, who had appeared in Tamil films, was found hanging from the ceiling of his Mumbai apartment by actress Lavina Bhatia in 2008. The apparent suicide was challenged by his father Rajendra Singh who claimed the body showed signs of suspicious bruising. While Bhatia was detained by police in connection with his death, she was later released. Kunal had attempted suicide by slashing his wrists several months earlier.
Viveka Babajee (May 27, 1973 – June 25, 2010)
Again, death by hanging was the cause of this beautiful Mauritian model-actress’s death. She was found hanging from the ceiling fan in her Bandra apartment. While police reports stated that Babajee committed suicide due to depression, the last entry in her diary, which was found next to her body, read, "You killed me, Gautam Vohra." She had become depressed after allegedly separating from her boyfriend, Gautam.
Nafisa Joseph (28 March 1978 - 29 July 2004)
VJ and model Nafisa Joseph hanged herself in her Versova flat in 2004. Her marriage to businessman Gautam Khanduja had been called off as he had lied about his divorce. He had apparently even threatened her with blackmail. Her parents filed a police report accusing him of abetting her death. Khanduja had the case stayed claiming that there was no evidence to prove that breaking off the engagement had led to Joseph's suicide.
Kuljeet Randhawa (1 January 1976 – 8 February 2006)
Best known for her work in TV series C.A.T.S., Special Squad and Kohinoor, Kuljeet hanged herself in her apartment in Juhu. In a suicide note, she stated that she was ending her life as she was unable to cope with life's pressures. However, shortly before her death, she had completed shooting for the film By Chance.