Meena Kumari, Silk Smitha, Taruni Sachdev: Actresses who died young

Updated: Mar 31, 2020, 09:15
  • Meena Kumari

    Meena Kumari (1933-1972): 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.

  • Silk Smitha

    Silk Smitha (1960-1996): Born Vijayalakshmi, she reached the iconic status of a sex symbol in Tamil cinema during her time. She starred in the classic Hindi film 'Sadma' (1983). Appearing in over 200 films, the young seductress was neck-deep in controversies and eventually died at the age of 35 on September 23, 1996. It is suspected that she committed suicide. The 2011 Bollywood film 'The Dirty Picture' was loosely based on Smitha's life.

  • Taruni Sachdev

    Taruni Sachdev (1998-2012): 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.

  • Pratyusha Banerjee

    Pratyusha Banerjee (1991-2016): 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 1, 2016, in a suspected case of suicide. The 24-year-old was found hanging from the ceiling at her home in Goregaon. 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. 

  • Jiah Khan

    Jiah Khan (1988-2013): Jiah Khan tragically committed suicide at the young age of 25 on June 3, 2013. She made her debut in the controversial 2007 film 'Nishabd' co-starring Amitabh Bachchan. She starred opposite Aamir Khan in 2008's 'Ghajini'. Jiah made her final screen appearance in the 2010 hit comedy 'Housefull'.

  • Kuljeet Randhawa

    Kuljeet Randhawa (1976-2006): A model-turned-actress, she was best remembered for her role in 'Kohinoor', a mystery-thriller Indian television series. Randhawa was also part of 'C.A.T.S', the Indian version of 'Charlie's Angels'. She had a promising career ahead but committed suicide by hanging herself at her residence on February 8, 2006, just a couple of years after her friend Nafisa Joseph had done the same. Randhawa had just turned 30.

  • Simple Kapadia

    Simple Kapadia (1958-2009): 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.

  • Rasika Joshi

    Rasika Joshi (1972-2011): 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.

  • Divya Bharti

    Divya Bharti (1974-1993): Beginning her career down south, Divya Bharti took Bollywood by storm with her performances in 'Shola Aur Shabnam', 'Deewana' and 'Balwan'. However, just when her career was on the verge of taking full flight, Bharti died on April 5, 1993, under circumstances that remain a mystery till this day. She was only 19.

  • Nafisa Joseph

    Nafisa Joseph (1978-2004): Former MTV VJ, model-turned-actress Nafisa Joseph hanged herself in her home on July 29, 2004 after her marriage to businessman Gautam Khanduja was called off in 2004. She was only 26 years of age. Joseph was the winner of Miss India Universe 1997 and was a semi-finalist in the Miss Universe 1997 pageant in Miami. she also acted in television series 'C.A.T.S', an Indian version of 'Charlie's Angels'.

  • Soundarya

    Soundarya (1972-2004): 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.

  • Sonika Chauhan

    Sonika Chauhan (1989-2017): 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.

  • Smita Patil

    Smita Patil (1955-1986): 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.

  • Madhubala

    Madhubala (1933-1969): 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.

  • Geeta Bali

    Geeta Bali (1930-1965): 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.

    In picture: Shammi Kapoor and Geeta Bali's wedding picture with actor Johnny Walker.

  • Viveka Babajee

    Viveka Babajee (1973-2010): A failed relationship allegedly spurred the 37-year-old Viveka Babajee to commit suicide on June 25, 2010. Her body was found hanging from a ceiling fan at her rented apartment in Bandra, Mumbai, where she was staying alone. The last entry in her diary, which was found next to her body, read, "you killed me, Gautam Vora". The latter was in further trouble when he was arrested in connection with the Arun Tikku murder case. Mauritius-born Babajee's claim to fame was the famous KamaSutra condom ad campaign. She was Miss Mauritius 1993 and represented her country in the Miss World pageant in Sun City, South Africa, the same year. She also acted in the 2002 movie 'Yeh Kaisi Mohabbat' directed by Dinkar Kapoor.

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About The Gallery

Meena Kumari was born on August 1, 1933, and breathed her last on March 31, 1972, at the age of 39. On her death anniversary, we look back at the tragic tales of actresses who died at an early age.