Celebrities committing suicide

Lonely at the top

Cinema

June 23, 2020

/ By / Mumbai

Celebrities committing suicide

Sushant Singh Rajput (January 21, 1986- June 14, 2020)

Film star Sushant Singh Rajput’s suicide last week has revived the debate about why so many celebrities choose to end their lives.

When the news of suicide by Sushant Singh Rajput, a talented 34-year-old actor, first broke on lazy Sunday afternoon, made even more lazy by the never-ending lockdown, it sounded like a tasteless joke. After all, he had had a fantastic time professionally and was all set to witness the release of his latest film, Dil Bechara. Adding to the mystery was the fact that Rajput’s suicide came barely  a week after his ex-manager Disha Salian’s suspected suicide.

There is a lot of finger pointing which is, both, artificially rationalised with the hypothetical who, why and how but also supported by enumeration of possible causes and their effect. The ripples of the opinions of these neo-experts and pseudo-sympathisers are still emanating. Do we need a famous suicide like this to awaken our collective consciousness? Or has this sad incident blatantly exposed our collective, yet, innate insensitivities wherein we are shown as incapable of even noticing what another person is going through; let alone do anything about it? Almost always, if at all, most certainly, not until it’s too late!

In poet, writer, film director Gulzar’s words “Meri khamoshi mein sannata bhi hai, shor bhi hai, toone dekha hi nahin, aankhon main kuchh aur bhi hai…” – loosely rendered the words could mean –In my reticence, there is silence and there are the screams; you have yet to see my eyes, they have something else to say. Now, how does one look into the eyes that will never again open for us; or into other such eyes that are longing to break their silences, some even wondering why no one is hearing the screams. How do we read these cries of anguish before it is too late? How can we tell, when those who have taken their lives had seemingly/ostensibly everything going for them? 

In 1940, Carson McCullers was 23 when her debut novel The Heart is a Lonely Hunter was published. It “described the struggle of all these lonely people to come to terms with their world, to become members of their society, to find human love—in short, to become mature” (Frederick I. Carpenter in the English Journal). McCullers had not reckoned with the way the pace would pick up towards the end of the century and further still in the 21st century when “coming to terms with the world” would have a new meaning. “Becoming members of society, find love and maturity,” for some, would be like grasping in the air. 

Success, a dead-end for many

Sushant Singh Rajput, Sejal Sharma, Kushal Punjabi, Pratyusha Banerjee, Jiah Khan, Viveka Babaji, Kuljeet Randhawa, Nafisa Joseph, G. Venkateswaran, Silk Smitha were all well into their careers, with a good body of work to show, all recipients of critical appreciation, recognised for their talent and contribution to the industry. 

Young lives. Packed with talent, opportunity and consequential success. Did it all happen fast, sometimes too fast? Perhaps yes, but certainly not too soon or undeservingly. Yet, did it all leave the individuals with no time for oneself, sustained relationships, or manoeuvring. It seemed like all were moving up a mountainous path, eyes not so much on the road but a forward gaze lulled or dulled, virtually anaesthetised by the sense of security that continuing success, appreciation and adoration can generate until, of course, the road veers and they find themselves up in the sky without a road beneath them.

Suicide. A punishment or escape

Suicide is the ultimate punishment one can inflict on oneself. Does it depict a moment of total weakness or a moment of supreme power? Extreme helplessness or trying to play God with oneself? Where does this sudden burst of energy come from; where from, perhaps lying and moping one can lift oneself, get up and rise all the way up to the ceiling, and sometimes beyond going beyond the peaks of celebrityhood, stardom to new heights of frustration; and then, coming crashing down “thud” to the depths of darkness, nothingness and death. Having rapidly played out the parts of accuser and accused, defender, prosecutor, jury and judge and, most importantly, the witness and the victim, all in one’s own mind and passing a sentence on oneself. Death by hanging! It seemed like a universal sentence, scripted, for all. By one and all! 

Successful celebrities in entertainment who chose to end their lives with hanging:

 Year  Celebrity  Method
 2020  Sushant Singh Rajput  Hanging
 2020  Sejal Sharma  Hanging
 2019  Kushal Punjabi  Hanging
 2016  Pratyusha Banerjee  Hanging
 2013  Jiah Khan  Hanging
 2010  Viveka Babaji  Hanging
 2006  Kuljeet Randhawa  Hanging
 2004  Nafisa Joseph  Hanging
 2003  G. Venkateswaran……….  Hanging
 1996  Silk Smitha  Hanging

 

-The author is a film maker having created about 700 films  which include shorts, documentaries and TVCs.

 

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2 COMMENTS

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