Basic reasons for suicide by South Indian actresses, according to psychiatrists Dr Balakrishnan and Rudran are:
8. Inability to get out of relationships as they have been hyped by the mediaWhen AP-born Silk Smitha bit into a mango, it was actually auctioned in Tamil Nadu. There was not one man in the state who was not envious of her live-in boyfriend Dr Black Beard. No one knew... didn't want to know his real name in the media. Sadly, Silk Smitha who acquired the name because of her body, died a tragic death hanging from the ceiling fan of her house. Somewhat similar to what budding actress Monal, sister of South Indian superstar Simran did recently.
The fact that after Monal's death the Tamil Nadu Cine Artistes Association is setting up forums and conducting workshops for actresses to cope with their problems does indicate that Silk Smitha or Monal are not isolated cases in South India.
Fatafat Jayalaxmi, Kalpana, Laxmi, Mannada Manjula, Divya, Viji, Pratyusha& the list of southern heroines who embraced death seems endless. Why is this suicide phenomenon common among South Indian actresses? A common thread of insecurity, problem parents or failure in love, mostly because it is with a married man who wants to have his cake and eat it too, seem commonplace.
Let us take Monal s case, for example. She was the step-sister of No 1 southern actress Simran who is a familiar face in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada circuits. Monal herself had films like Pesadha Kannum Pesuma, Viajayashanti, Shafak in hand. Apart from the best of luck.
Why then did she choose to end her life instead of looking forward to it? Failure in love (boyfriend had allegedly asked her to be his mistress, rather than marry her) or a problem mother? The rumour mills worked overtime, especially after three of her fans followed suit and committed suicide making the incident even more gruesome.
Monal's name simply adds to the list, as another chapter of 'when death became her' for the South-side industry. Monal's death is similar to the case of Fatafat Jayalakshmi. The actress was going steady with the then Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MGR's nephew. Her affair provided fodder to many a mediaperson all year round. Till one day, her lifeless body narrated the sad story of her failure in life.
Next came actress Shobha who died under mysterious circumstances. Even today, the media feels it was no suicide case. Initially, a Malayalam actress, Shobha actually found fame in Tamil cinema and went on to become a National Award winner. Her sudden unexpected death rocked the industry. Rumours alleged an affair with a married director resulting in her giving up her life so early. These sound very similar to talks about Monal's alleged affair with a known choreographer.
Next in line was the ever famous and hot Silk Smitha, the '80s rage. Anything she said made news and her blow-up in film glossies meant a steep increase in circulation. Everything about her, including her mysterious shadow Dr Black Beard made headlines. Her death which came when the world thought that she was happy with her live-in relationship came as a major shocker. Family tension was all that was said about her death.
Next came 'Kozhi Koovudhu Viji' which means 'The Hen Is Calling Viji', christened so, after her first super-hit film. Viji carved her niche in almost all the southern languages. Her setback came when an ailment got her bedridden. Several operations later, it was only willpower that brought Viji back. But during the course of her treatment that had affected her to the extent that she could not walk, Viji fell in love with director Ramesh. Sadly he was already married.
But Viji was different from her contemporaries. She was clear that without Ramesh, there was no sense in living. She called and warned Ramesh innumerable times that she would commit suicide if he did not agree to be hers. Ramesh and his wife even met Viji and requested her to live and let live. Sadly the woman who had once chased away death, ran after it to embrace it.
Next was Pratyusha from Andhra Pradesh. Not wanting to succumb to parental opposition, she consumed a glass of juice with poison in her car at a public place and died. In true filmi style, Pratyusha and her lover had consumed poison a la Kamal Haasan-Rekha in the Tamil flick Punnagai Mannan. Pratyusha died but her lover Siddartha Reddy lived. He's still being questioned by the police.
Coming back to Monal, her death seems to have been the result of a sudden impulsive decision on her part. She hanged herself from the ceiling fan using her own dupatta. She died en route to the hospital.
Sadly, in her last film Charlie Chaplin, Monal hangs from the ceiling in the same way. Only this time, the tears at the funeral were real.
The writer is the Editor of Kungumam