MUMBAI // The Bollywood actress Jiah Khan, a rising star known for her Lolita-esque role opposite Amitabh Bachchan, has been found dead in her flat in Mumbai. She was 25.
Khan was found late on Monday hanging in her room by her mother, Rabiya Amin, a former Bollywood actress, the deputy police commissioner, Chhering Dorje, told the BBC.
There was no suicide note and police forensic teams were yesterday searching her apartment for evidence.
“As of now, we have recorded an accidental death. We are investigating further,” a Mumbai police official said.
Khan, whose real name was Nafisa Khan, was born in New York and grew up in London before moving to Mumbai to act.
She was also trained in western classical music and posed for provocative advertising campaigns for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) in India.
Khan’s mother told police yesterday that Khan had travelled to Hyderabad on Sunday to audition for a film, according to television news reports. The reports claim that Khan was told that she needed to put on weight if she was to secure the part, which she refused to do. She reportedly told her mother that she wanted to leave the industry and become an interior designer.
Yesterday, police also questioned Khan’s boyfriend, Suraj Pancholi, an aspiring actor and the son of Bollywood actors Aditya Pancholi and Zarina Wahab.
Khan is best known for her lead role opposite Bachchan, then 65, in the 2007 film Nishabd (No Words), which has been described as loosely based on Vladimir Nabakov’s novel Lolita.
She was widely praised for her portrayal of a teenager in an illicit relationship with her best friend’s father. The film earned her a Filmfare Best Female Debut nomination. The Filmfare awards are considered the Oscars of the Hindi film industry.
Soon after the release of Nishabd, Khan took on her screen name of Jiah, changing it back to Nafisa last year.
In 2008, she had a leading role in the psychological thriller, Ghajini, one of Bollywood’s most successful movies It was based on Christopher Nolan’s Memento.
Khan’s last appearance was in a film called Housefull in 2010 alongside Akshay Kumar.
Ram Gopal Varma, who directed Khan in Nishabd, said he was “shocked and choked” to hear of her death. “So young and so pretty,” he said on Twitter.
“I don’t know the reason what led to this but Jiah was very depressed about her career and scared for her future,” he said.
“The last time I met her, Jiah told me that everyone around her makes her feel like a failure.”
On Khan’s own Twitter account, following a series of regular tweets, she did not post anything for a more than a month, up until May 24, when she wrote, “... Sometimes u need a sabbatical to recollect ur thoughts.”
Khan grew up in Chelsea in London and moved back to New York when she was 17 to study method acting and Shakespeare at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute, according to her official website. She dropped out of school in New York to star in Nishabd.