Anuja Iyer



An untimely frost


Bhishma Pitamah of Mahabharatha was granted a boon of ‘icchamrityu’, the wish to end his life whenever he desired to in return for his vow of life-long celibacy. That didn’t make him immortal but he had the choice to pick the time of his death when the curtains came down. And that was a choice of delaying his death much after he had fulfilled his purpose and duties in life. However, on Tuesday morning this week, we woke up to a tragic news of an extremely young actor in Hindi cinema, Jiah (Nafisa) Khan, who picked her time of death too early in life the previous night much to the horror of her family, friends, fans and the entire film fraternity who knew her.

It pains as much to read about a farmer’s death owing to debt burden as it is to see a young upcoming actor effectuate her own demise.  A farmer’s life is no less precious than a known personality to offer a requiem to that unnatural death. But the weak-minded lot is more likely to be influenced or affected by the extensive reporting and coverage that celebrities attract. And therefore the need to talk about it seems imperative to alert those who can help such possible victims of self-destruction. A 12-year-old boy purportedly got depressed at the news of Jiah Khan’s death that he too was found hanging from a ceiling fan at his residence. This is scary and disturbing to know the impact it can create among youngsters who are particularly a vulnerable group and currently show the highest rates of suicide world over.

Historically, through the ages, suicide has been glorified, romanticized, bemoaned, and even condemned. Suicides in ancient Indian texts were glorified as an act of valour to avoid shame and disgrace in the hands of the enemy. Be it our tragic Greek heroes Aegeus, Socrates or the stunning Egyptian Princess Cleopatra or the epidemic of suicide in his kingdom when Lord Ram died or the suicide of Samson and Saul of the Old Testament, the universality of suicide has transcended religion and culture. A truism in suicide literature is that “not all persons who commit suicide want to die and not all persons who want to die commit suicide”. But when the individual takes that drastic step of giving up on life due to a failed career or a relationship, interventions in the form of professional counseling or their close circle’s moral support system may be the most effective way to address the third most common cause of death.

Much as films have their characters resorting to suicidal attempts to give the desired suspense and drama where the hero comes at the opportune moment as a savior to stop the heroine or sister’s suicidal attempt, such ideal ending doesn’t really happen in real life. You heave a sigh of relief when you see the protagonist cop Raghavan, as played by Mr. Kamal Haasan in the film ‘Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu’ instinctively senses the suicidal attempt of Maya, as played by Jyothika and gives her a second chance at life by rescuing her in the adjacent hotel room where she stays. When two lovers decide to jump off the falls or cliff due to parental issues in an unfulfilled romantic relationship as in ‘Punnagai Mannan’ or ‘Ek Duje Ke Liye’, it can wrung your heart out wishing they had taken a smarter decision. If films can leave you asking for more, it can leave a lump in your throat in such real life incidents for want of happy endings (or new beginnings) for those who’re finally humans once the camera, lights and make up goes off.

Unsuccessful suicide attempts (or should we say cases of lucky escape) need to be aided with post suicide counseling and lots and lots of love and support from family and friends. There’s a life much beyond a not-so-rosy career or not-so-successful relationship and is in no way reflective of the capabilities of the person involved. Ironically, Marilyn Monroe who also cut short her time on earth due to depression believed so much in her talent that when someone asked her 'If fifty percent of the experts in Hollywood said you had no talent and should give up, what would you do?' Her answer was, 'If a hundred percent told me that, all one hundred percent would be wrong.' That’s the kind of conviction one needs, so as to not buckle up under pressure when talent doesn’t get recognized for some reason at a time when we want it to.

More so in the world of cinema where the quest for fame for a struggling actor or complete loneliness amidst a roaring career without an ideal partner/family can trip a very sane individual into becoming a past. There have been enough celebrities in the not-so-proud list of early self-inflicted deaths from Monal to Monroe, (Fatafat) Jayalakshmi to Jiah Khan who chose to walk away from the spotlight and life. Sadly this will not be the last of such deaths to occur but what we can as individuals do is to understand the tell tale signs of suicidal tendencies if the person happens to be in your circuit. So much has happened because they couldn’t reach out to a confidante or because at some point their immediate circle couldn’t see through their social isolation, their smiles that never reached the eyes, their quoting of loneliness in social media and ultimately courting death. They take their choice but they need to be given a chance, a shoulder and timely help. As for Jiah’s early ending, only these poignant words of Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet keep ringing in my mind:

  • Death lies on her, like an untimely frost
    Upon the sweetest flower of all the field.

Rest in peace Jiah.

Respond to
Behindwoods is not responsible for the views of columnists.



This page hosts the views of the authors of the column. The views are generally about films, movie reviews, movie news, songs, music, film actors and actresses, directors, producers, cinematographers, music directors, and all others that contribute for the success or failure of a film. People looking for movies online, movie reviews, movie analysis, public response for a movie, will find this page useful.