Jatin Kanakia, Sushant Singh Rajput, Irrfan Khan: Actors who died young

Updated: Jun 28, 2020, 08:26 | Nikita Wagh
  • Jatin Kanakia: The bespectacled comedian, whose funny antics in Shrimaan Shrimati made the show among the most popular ones in the Doordarshan era, Kanakia also did bit roles in Khoobsurat and Hum Saath Saath Hain in which his comedy was appreciated. For someone who made us laugh, Kanakia died a cruelly painful death, succumbing to pancreatic cancer in 1999. He was 46.

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  • Sushant Singh Rajput

    Sushant Singh Rajput: The versatile actor, known for films such as Kai Po Che, MS Dhoni: The Untold Story, Kedarnath, passed away on June 14 at age 34. He was found hanging at his Bandra residence. The actor allegedly committed suicide.

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  • Irrfan Khan

    Irrfan Khan: The 53-year-old actor, who was undergoing treatment for Neuroendocrine tumour, passed away on April 29, 2020. The talented actor had given his best performance in films such as Haasil, Maqbool, Paan Singh Tomar, The Lunchbox, Piku and Hindi Medium. His international projects include Slumdog Millionaire, The Namesake, The Amazing Spider-Man, Jurassic World and Life of Pi. His last release Angrezi Medium too gathered critical acclaim.

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  • Kushal Punjabi: The actor, who was best known for his appearance in films like Lakshya, Andaz and Kaal, passed away on December 27, 2019. He was found dead at his Mumbai house. The actor, 42, died of an apparent suicide and also left behind a note in which he said nobody should be held responsible for his death. Punjabi started his career as a dancer and model. He appeared in several music videos such as Pehla Nasha (remix) and DJ Aqeel's Kehdoon Tumhen recreation. 

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  • Pratyusha Banerjee: Popular television actress Pratyusha Banerjee, who shot to fame for her character Anandi in the daily soap Balika Vadhu, was found dead at her residence in Mumbai on April 2016 in a suspected case of suicide. Pratyusha and her boyfriend Rahul Raj Singh had an acrimonious exchange on WhatsApp, following which Banerjee told Singh that she was going to kill herself. She was 24.

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  • Taruni Sachdev: The Rasna girl, who won hearts for her role as Auro's (Amitabh Bachchan) friend in the film Paa, died in a plane crash in Nepal in 2012. In a cruel twist of fate, she lost her life on her birthday. She was 14.

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  • Jagesh Mukati

    Jagesh Mukati: The actor, who played the title role in Shree Ganesha, passed away on June 10, 2020. He was 47. Jagesh also starred in the show Amita Ka Amit, and films like Hasee Toh Phasee and Mann.

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  • Narendra Jha: The popular Bollywood and Television actor passed away on March 14, 2018, after suffering a cardiac arrest. He was 55. Jha is known for his roles in Bollywood films like Haider, Mohenjo Daro, Raees, Kaabil and others.

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  • Sachin Kumar:

    Sachin Kumar: Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii actor and Akshay Kumar's cousin Sachin Kumar passed away on May 15, 2020 after suffering a heart attack. He was 42. Kumar had quit acting and had turned photographer. He is survived by his wife and two children.

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  • Abir Goswami: The popular TV actor, who had acted in shows like Kkusum and Pyaar Ka Dard Hai and in Farhan Akhtar's 2004 film Lakshya, died of a cardiac arrest while working out at a suburban gym in 2013. He was 34.

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  • Jiah Khan: Jiah Khan tragically committed suicide at the young age of 25 in 2013. She made her debut in the controversial 2007 film Nishabd co-starring with Amitabh Bachchan. She starred opposite Aamir Khan in 2008's Ghajini and made her last screen appearance in the 2010 hit comedy Housefull.

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  • Aadesh Shrivastava: Bollywood singer and music composer Aadesh Shrivastava, passed away after a five-year-long battle with cancer at age 51 in 2015. He was married to actress and playback singer Vijayata Pandit and is survived by her and two children.

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  • Kunal Singh: Actor-producer Kunal Singh, who is best remembered for his film Dil Hi Dil Mein, starring Sonali Bendre, was found hanging from a ceiling fan at his Mumbai apartment in 2008. He was 30. Kunal's father Retired Col Rajendra Singh (Left) refused to believe the suicide theory and alleges land mafia killed his son.

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  • Nafisa Joseph: Former MTV VJ and model Nafisa Joseph hanged herself in her home allegedly after her marriage to businessman Gautam Khanduja was called off in 2004. She was only 26. Joseph was the winner of Miss India Universe 1997.

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  • Sonika Chauhan: Popular model and TV prime time host, Sonika Chauhan, was killed when the SUV in which she was travelling met with an accident in south Kolkata on April 29, 2017. She was 28 years old.

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  • Simple Kapadia: A Bollywood actress and costume designer, Simple Kapadia made her acting debut in 1977 at the age of 18 by playing the role of Sumitha Mathur in the film Anurodh, with her brother-in-law, actor Rajesh Khanna. Her career as an actress spanned for almost 10 years. After starring in more than 20 movies, her final role was a special dance number for the movie Parakh in 1987. The actress later shifted her career and became a costume designer, and designed for actors including Tabu, Amrita Singh, Sridevi and Priyanka Chopra. The actress also won a National Award for her costume design in Rudaali in 1994. But later, the actress was ill for quite some time and breathed her last on November 10, 2009.

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  • Sai Gundewar:

    Sai Gundewar: Sai Gundewar, the actor who was seen in some very successful Bollywood films like PK and Rock On, passed away in the USA on May 10 at the age of 42 due to brain cancer.

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  • Rasika Joshi: A popular Marathi actor, Joshi was a common feature in Priyadarshan films. She left her impression in Billu, Bhool Bhulaiyaa, Malamaal Weekly, Gayab and Vaastu Shastra, portraying diverse character roles. She was only 39 when she died of leukaemia in 2011.

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  • Kuljeet Randhawa: A model-turned-actress, she was best remembered for her role in Kohinoor, a mystery-thriller Indian television series. Randhawa was also part of CATS, the Indian version of Charlie's Angels. She had a promising career ahead but committed suicide by hanging herself at her residence in 2006, just a couple of years after her good friend Nafisa Joseph had done the same. Randhawa was 30.

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  • Soundarya: A popular actress from the south, she was the female lead opposite Amitabh Bachchan in the 1999 Hindi film Sooryavansham and was appreciated for her work. Soundarya, who was pregnant, was killed in a plane crash while campaigning for a political party in 2004. She was 31.

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  • Divya Bharti: She became popular in no time. Beginning her career down south, Bharti took Bollywood by storm with her performances in Shola Aur Shabnam, Deewana and Balwan. However in 1993, just when her career was on the verge of taking full flight, Bharti died under circumstances that remain a mystery to this day. She was only 19.

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  • Inder Kumar: A leading man in the 1990s, his most notable performances were in the Akshay Kumar starrer Khiladiyon Ka Khiladi, Tirchi Topiwale and with Salman Khan in Wanted. He died of a heart attack at the age of 43 in 2017.

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  • Nirmal Pandey: He wasn't as big a star as the other names on the list, but those who saw Pandey in Bandit Queen believed he was a highly talented actor. He also portrayed a transvestite in Daayraa, while other popular films he was part of were Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya, Auzaar, One 2 Ka 4. But an unfulfilled career came to an end in 2010 when Pandey died of a heart attack at the age of 48.

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  • Vinod Mehra: The epitome of handsomeness in Hindi cinema, Mehra acted in a number of memorable films like Anurag, Ghar and Khudaar, among others in the '70s and '80s. Sadly, Mehra died of a heart attack in 1990 at the age of 45.

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  • Dilip Dhawan: He became a household name playing the character of Guru in the memorable TV show Nukkad and also did notable roles in shows like Janam, Deewar and Tere Mere Sapne. His career was progressing at a steady pace when he passed away, aged 45, following a massive heart attack at his Bandra residence in 2000.

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  • Sanjeev Kumar: An often-repeated aspect of Kumar's film journey is that for a man who played innumerable aged roles. He died at 47. Even by then though, he had established himself as one of the most versatile actors of Hindi cinema. He was funny in Seeta Aur Geeta and Angoor, tragic to the hilt in Koshish and Sholay. Few actors managed to get into the skin of the character as Kumar did.

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  • Madhubala: Her lifespan was all of 36 years, but by then Madhubala had done enough to be regarded as one of the greatest divas to grace the screen. Starting her career as a child artist with Basant in 1942, she went on to star in numerous classics like Neel Kamal, and of course Mughal-e-Aazam. Heart complications led to her death in 1969.

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  • Meena Kumari: In a sense, Kumari was the female equivalent of Guru Dutt. She not only played tragic roles, but lived a tragic life as well. Three weeks after Pakeezah released, she died of liver cirrhosis, aged 38 in 1972.

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  • Shafi Inamdar: A competent character actor in films, Inamdar is most remembered for his TV show Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi. A highly versatile performer, Inamdar was part of a popular countdown show on DD, along with Swaroop Sampat and Laxmikant Berde, when he died of a massive heart attack in 1996. He was only 50.

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  • Laxmikant Berde: A superstar of Marathi cinema, who was known for his trademark style of comedy, Berde made an impact in Hindi cinema as well, playing the likeable friend in Maine Pyar Kiya and the loyal servant, who is treated like a family member, in Hum Aapke Hain Koun... He had a lot more to offer to Indian cinema when he died aged 50, of a kidney ailment, in 2004.

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  • Rituparno Ghosh: The noted Bengali filmmaker who had encountered international success with films like Choker Bali, Antar Mahal among many others, passed away in 2013, after suffering a massive heart attack in his home in Kolkata. He was 49. The director was struggling with his sexuality and had become a recluse during the final days of his life.

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  • Jaspal Bhatti: The man who made us laugh our hearts out while himself keeping a straight face, Bhatti was the common man's superstar for those who grew up watching Flop Show (1989). In 2012, he died in a car crash, too young for someone who could make us cackle at the drop of a hat. He was 57.

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  • Vivek Shauq: He is most remembered for his supporting role in Flop Show in which he was the perfect foil for Jaspal Bhatti. Shauq also featured in other Bhatti shows, and his comic timing had an effortless feel to it. He starred in many films, but is most remembered for his turn as Sunny Deol's friend in Gadar. Shauq died of a heart attack in 2011. He was 47.

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  • Amjad Khan: Gabbar Singh aka Amjad Khan was adept at playing negative, supporting as well as comic characters. He acted in more than 130 films but passed away in 1992 following heart failure. He was only 51.

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  • Smita Patil: Although she was known for her hard-hitting persona in art films, Patil proved to be equally adept in commercial cinema. Her career span was hardly a decade old when she died of birth complications at 31 in 1986. However, her films like Nishant, Bhumika and Manthan remain legendary.

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  • Guru Dutt: He starred in classics like Pyaasa, Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam, and Kaagaz Ke Phool. The tragedy king of Bollywood committed suicide in 1964 when he was only 39. Guru Dutt's films Pyaasa and Kaagaz Ke Phool have been included among the greatest films of all time by Time magazine's "All-TIME" 100 best movies list.

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  • Geeta Bali: At her peak, Bali acted with Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand and Guru Dutt, but passed away of smallpox in 1965 at the age of 35. She was considered one of the most spontaneous and expressive stars of Bollywood for her acting.

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About The Gallery

On Jatin Kanakia's birth anniversary on June 28, 2020, we take a look at Bollywood and Television celebrities who died too young before they could make a fortune out of fame.