Grief hit Bollywood on Tuesday with news that Jiah Khan, a glamorous 25-year-old British Indian ingenue, had been found dead of an apparent suicide in her Mumbai apartment.
According to police officials, Khan’s mother discovered the actress’ body Monday night. She reportedly had hanged herself with a long scarf known as a dupatta.
Born Nafisa Khan in New York, the actress grew up in London and was raised straddling continents, according to Khan’s website. She studied method acting at New York’s Lee Strasberg Film and Theater Institute and moved to Mumbai for her craft, renaming herself “Jiah” in phoenetic homage to Gia Carangi, the late supermodel portrayed by Angelina Jolie in an Emmy-winning role in the 1998 HBO biopic “Gia.”
Khan burst onto the Bollywood scene in 2007 with a provocative part in filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma’s “Nishabd,” a movie loosely based on Vladimir Nabokov’s “Lolita.” She played the 18-year-old female lead opposite Indian acting icon Amitabh Bachchan.
“Never ever seen a debutant actress with more spunk and more spirit than Jian when I was directing her in ‘Nishabd,’ ” Varma said on Twitter on Tuesday. “I don’t know the reason what led to this but Jiah was very depressed about her career and scared for her future,” he added in another tweet.
Khan went on to turn in performances opposite such bold-faced Bollywood names as Aamir Khan and Akshay Kumar. At the time of her death, however, she had not worked in film for several years, her final performance arriving in a supporting role for the 2010 comedy “Housefull.”
According to the Times of India, Khan’s mother, Razia Khan, told police that her daughter had gone to a movie audition Sunday that did not end well; casting agents advised the actress to lose weight.
A preliminary police investigation also reportedly revealed that Khan was despondent over the state of her romantic relationship with Suraj Pancholi, son of Bollywood acting royalty Aditya Pancholi and Zarina Wahab.
Police said Suraj Pancholi and Kahn spoke by phone several times Monday night, the last two-minute call taking place at 10:53 p.m. Post mortem examinations indicated the actress hanged herself between 11 and 11:30 p.m.
On Tuesday, grief over the actress’ death spread around the world via social media.
“RIP Jiah,” actor Riteish Deshmukh, who appeared with Kahn in “Housefull,” tweeted Tuesday. “She was full of life and had incredible sense of humor. She was a friend n will miss her. Am deeply saddened.”
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