When news broke that struggling Bollywood actor Sandeep Nahar died from an apparent suicide in Mumbai on February 15, it sharply brought into focus the spate of sudden celebrity deaths that have rocked the Indian film and TV industries in the recent past.
Actors — irrespective of their clout, wealth and influence — taking their own lives is becoming a familiar morbid script.
While Nahar, who has acted in supporting roles in ‘MS: Dhoni’ with the late actor Sushant Singh Rajput and ‘Kesari’ with Akshay Kumar, may not have been as famous as Rajput, who also reportedly died by suicide in June 2020, his death is a sad reminder about those hopefuls who can’t handle the pressure of fulfilling their acting ambitions.
Before reportedly taking the extreme step, Nahar, who also starred in the web series ‘Kehno Ko Humsafar Hai’ and ‘Shukranu’, wrote a lengthy post in Hindi on his social media, along with sharing a video explaining why he was choosing to end his life.
His post was published on his account around three hours before his alleged suicide.
Nahar claimed that he was inundated with personal and professional problems. He also had a troubled relationship with his wife Kanchan Sharma, who was reportedly the one who discovered his body.
In his last post, Nahar said that he was exhausted living in a toxic relationship with his wife and that their daily squabbles had started to eat away at his happiness. He wasn’t satisfied on the professional front either, according to the post.
While he lauded the city of Mumbai, the epicentre of Bollywood, for giving him work, he pointed out that the Hindi film industry thrived on playing politics.
“They waste your time by giving you false hopes and then they replace you despite signing contracts. There are mean people in the industry. They are emotion-less and put up a fake face for the world,” wrote Nahar in Hindi.
His post indicated that he was drained by the lack of empathy and professionalism at his work place, an issue that has plagued Bollywood for a long time.
Outspoken actor Ranvir Shorey, upon learning about his colleague’s death, hit the nail on the head when he posted: “The pressures behind the screen, neither from the balconies nor the stalls can be seen. Om Shanti. #RIP.”
Who was Sandeep Nahar?
Born in Chandigarh, Sandeep Nahar was an actor hopeful who came to Mumbai to try his luck in Bollywood movies and TV series. He wasn’t born into an acting dynasty nor did he have powerful industry insiders backing him.
Naturally, his struggle to break into Bollywood wasn’t smooth or eventful. In his lean career catalogue, he has taken on small roles in films such as ‘MS Dhoni: The Untold Story’ as the late hero Sushant Singh Rajput’s friend, along with featuring in ‘Kesari’, that starred Akshay Kumar in the lead. Nahar was one of the many turban-wearing Sikh warriors in the period epic.
Nahar also played a small role in Bollywood comedy ‘Khandani Shafakhana’, starring Sonakshi Sinha in the lead role.
Sandeep was a happy-go-lucky guy. I met him on the sets of that film only. I had about two-three scenes with him.
Apart from a string of unremarkable roles in Bollywood movies, he also took a stab at acting in Indian serials including ‘Kehno Ko Humsafar Hai’ and ‘Shukranu’. He was believed to be in his 30s.
His struggle to make a mark in Bollywood is similar to the thousands who land in Mumbai to try their hand at attaining fame and creative freedom. In an interview with ETimes, Nahar’s ‘MS Dhoni’ co-star Anupam Kher spoke highly of the late actor.
“Sandeep was a happy-go-lucky guy. I met him on the sets of that film only. I had about two-three scenes with him. He had more scenes with other actors in the film but he was undoubtedly a good actor,” said Kher.
In another report, his childhood mate described him as a good friend, with a strong emotional core.
According to reports, investigations into his apparent suicide are on and the Mumbai Police will be questioning his wife soon.
Hours before his death, Nahar had put up a video and a post claiming that his wife and their domestic squabbles had taken a toll on him. He went into detail about their fights, her alleged stormy relationship with his parents and how their toxic dynamic had destroyed his happiness and peace of mind. He also claimed that his short stint in Bollywood was paved with hurdles and hardships.
His last video saw him in an agitated state and his emotionally-charged rant has raised questions about his mental health.
Nahar’s death signals a silent killer
Last year saw an unusually high number of deaths in the Indian entertainment industry. In December 2020, the Tamil film industry woke up to the news of 29-year-old host and actress Chitra’s suicide in a hotel in Chennai. Her death sent ripples among movie-mad Indians, who were still struggling to gain closure from Hindi actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s sudden death in June 2020. Months on, millions wonder why a seemingly successful actor like him reportedly took his own life.
But suicides among celebrities aren’t discriminatory. Even talented stars such as ‘Black Friday’ actor Asif Basra have allegedly committed suicide.
A point that has been raised again is whether mental health issues among creative people are not taken seriously.
Their sudden deaths, which gets turned into a voyeuristic sport by enthusiastic TV anchors, are also a sharp reminder about the tragic side to fame.
In an earlier interview, former beauty queen and actress Celina Jaitly — who has been open about her battle with postpartum depression — spoke to Gulf News about mental health issues.
“I personally believe that the cause of these suicides is the indifference towards mental health … belittling one’s feelings as ‘you will get past it’. Depression can be a tough illness to understand, especially for those who have never experienced it themselves,” pointed out Jaitly.
Actor and former Dubai-based comedian Nitinn R Miranni, who recently worked with Aamir Khan in a song cameo and is busy with his web series debut, had always championed the removal of social stigma attached to men battling depression.
In an interview with Gulf News, Miranni had spoken eloquently about seeking help.
“Depression is real. Feeling listless is real … But seeking help is real. Emotions don’t have a gender and they exist because it’s an outlet. Let’s remove the stigma around depression and mental health,” added Mirani.
While it’s unclear if Nahar suffered from mental health issues, his death has re-ignited talks about public figures and the heavy price some pay in their collective bid to attain glory.