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When pressure of stardom takes a toll on celebrities

Career lows drove a Punjabi singer to commit suicide and a Telugu actress to opt for a cosmetic surgery that proved fatal. Bollywood celebs and experts speak up about fame and failure...

Film celebs lead a life that many envy. However, beneath the glamour and stardom lies a deep layer of pressure — the constant effort to be in the spotlight, to stay relevant and sellable in the face of fierce competition. When fame takes a beating, it often becomes a challenge to digest failure. But, of course, different people react in different ways — some take it in their stride, striving for bigger and better things, others consider it as the end of the world.

Singer Dharampreet, who had earned name and fame in the ’90s for his soulful songs, ended his life on Sunday
Singer Dharampreet, who had earned name and fame in the '90s for his soulful songs, ended his life on Sunday

Singer Dharampreet, who had reached the pinnacle of popularity in the '90s for his soulful songs, ended his life on Sunday by hanging from the ceiling fan in his Bhatinda home. Full story

It was reported that the singer was depressed as he was not getting as much work as he desired. Last week, Telugu actress Aarthi Aggarwal died of cardiac arrest allegedly after a liposuction surgery led to complications. She had opted for a cosmetic transformation after her career, which was on the upswing in the early 2000s, took a downturn seven years ago. Buzz suggests she had tried to commit suicide in 2005 following a failed love affair. Full Story

Telugu actress Aarthi Aggarwal died of cardiac arrest allegedly after a cosmetic surgery led to complications
Telugu actress Aarthi Aggarwal died of cardiac arrest allegedly after a cosmetic surgery led to complications

Bollywood actress Jiah Khan, who was found hanging from the ceiling of her suburban flat in June 2013. Buzz suggested she was depressed due to personal and professional setbacks
Bollywood actress Jiah Khan, who was found hanging from the ceiling of her suburban flat in June 2013. Buzz suggested she was depressed due to personal and professional setbacks

Closer home, starlet Jiah Khan was found dead in her Mumbai flat in June, 2013. The actress, who started her career opposite Amitabh Bachchan in 'Nishabd' (2007), was going through a lean patch as she was apparently struggling to find work and had an off-and-on relationship. Her boyfriend Sooraj Pancholi was arrested for abetment of suicide and the case is still on.

From left: Models Nafisa Joseph, Kuljeet Randhawa and Viveka Babajee who committed suicide allegedly due to growing stress in their lives and careers
From left: Models Nafisa Joseph, Kuljeet Randhawa and Viveka Babajee who committed suicide allegedly due to growing stress in their lives and careers

Filmmaker Pooja Bhatt says, "If you enter this business expecting not to be singed by flops and bad phases, then one should consider a job elsewhere. The problem is not failure or success; the problem is that a very small percentage of people in movies actually have a life outside movies. I never took success seriously which is why failure did not devastate me."

Bipasha Basu, Pooja Bhatt, Mugdha Godse and Rajeev Khandelwal
Bipasha Basu, Pooja Bhatt, Mugdha Godse and Rajeev Khandelwal

Transient fame
Not just film stars, but many models have also found it challenging to keep up with the demands of the glamour industry. Take for example, the case of Geetanjali Nagpal, a formerly successful model who was found begging and bedraggled on Delhi streets in 2007. Or that of Nafisa Joseph, an ex-model and television host, who hanged herself in 2004. Or even model-actress 0 who hanged herself at her Bandra residence five years ago apparently as her event management business was not doing well. Model Kuljeet Randhawa too blamed "pressures" taking a toll on her life in her suicide note before committing suicide in 2006. Incidentally, she had finished shooting for her film By Chance before she resorted to the extreme step.

Mugdha Godse, who starred in 'Fashion' (2008) based on the fashion world, says, "Acting is a highly competitive career choice and most actors are sensitive by nature which enables them to enact various emotions. However, success or failure should not determine our purpose of life. The only way to cope is to not perceive it as the end of life."

Agrees actor Rajeev Khandelwal, adding that fame does bring along several pressures. "As long as the person becomes the actor, it is okay. But when the actor starts to dominate the person, the problem begins. I also feel that if fame is hard-earned, one does not make much of it.

But if it comes easily, one runs the risk of losing it some day," he asserts.

Help at hand
Bipasha Basu, who has not had too many successful films in her kitty of late, suggests that sharing one's problems and tension with close ones is an effective way to fight stress. "Work is just an aspect of your life, not your entire life. Troubled times test all just to make people tougher. But one shouldn't become weak. Make the right choices just for yourself, not the world," she says.

Both success and failure are overrated, states actress Swara Bhaskar, admitting that celebs are constantly ridden with anxiety given that a career in showbiz is rife with uncertainty and insecurity. "All artistes suffer from this syndrome, star or newbie. I have struggled with such feelings too, but I kept reminding myself on a daily basis that Bollywood is a very small part of this big beautiful world. I try hard to be gainfully occupied with activism work, travel or writing — things that remind me that Bollywood and success as defined by the industry and media need not be everything in my life.

Psychiatrist Harish Shetty insists that modern-day celebrities know how to handle fame. "The suicide of stars is glamorised by the media. Today's generation is smart and they know when to seek help from their friends or experts."

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