Whether stars are in front of the camera or when they post on their social media feed — their life is an epitome of all things glamourous, glitzy and sparkling. That’s a stark contrast to another side of showbiz, which is about struggling with the unpredictable nature of the job. Anxiety at times leads to depression and at times ends with suicides.
The news of Kushal Punjabi ending his life by hanging himself in his Mumbai resident was a rude surprise for his friends and colleagues.
“Your demise has shocked the hell out of me. I’m still in denial, Kushal Punjabi. I know you are in a happier place, but this is unfathomable. The way you lead your life really inspired me in more ways than one….but what was I to know,” wrote Karanvir Bohra.
“Guess it’s true when they say, ‘the happiest faces hide the most saddened searts’. Seeing your spirit and zest for life, never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that you will bid your final goodbye to life in a way that will send a chill down our spines every time we think of you,” actor Karan Patel said talking about Kushal Punjabi’s demise.
Kushal Punjabi’s suicide story brings back the conversation around celebrities, known for entertaining people, struggling with mental illness in their personal lives and not even talking about it openly, and putting up a facade on social media. It’s a testimony to the proverb — all that glitters is not gold.
Trying to catch up with the fast-paced always hectic profession, stars like Kushal Punjabi don’t even realise when mental illness creeps into their lives, leaving them grappling for some normalcy. In fact, many lives with bright talent from the big as well as small screen got wiped away due to mental illness.
Actress Jiah Khan couldn’t cope up with professional and personal issues and ended her life, Pratyusha Banerjee got stuck in the turbulent love affair and paid for it with her life. The bright and effervescent lives of Nafisa Joseph, Viveka Babajee and Kuljeet Randhawa were washed out by the bedazzled world of showbiz.
Telugu star Naga Jhansi committed suicide due to lack of work, financial pressure or personal issues, and Bollywood dancer Abhijeet Shinde took his life after battle with depression
Yes, there’s Deepika Padukone opening about her struggle with mental illness, Alia Bhatt’s sister Shaheen Bhatt giving words to her battle through her book, Kiara Advani narrating her own fight with mental illness and Parineeti Chopra confessing about her depression phase. But is it enough to be open about their mental health?
“Most people even today have a lot of stigma. They go through a lot of discrimination in their heads… A lot of people are not able to come out and speak up because of various hesitation. One of the reasons is the age-old stereotyping around mental illness which still exists. It is better but it exists, then accessibility is an issue,” leading psychiatrist Samir Parikh told IANS.
Social media feed is not a mirror to one’s mental health as was thought for Kushal Punjabi’s life.
“One only puts up posts about the good things happening in our lives. There is a real self and portrayed self. No one will know that you are struggling with mental illness by looking at the social media feed,” Parikh added.
There’s still a lot of walls to be broken.
“We have not been able to create an environment that makes people feel comfortable to talk about it. we say ke ‘usne baat nahi kari’, but don’t realise that ‘kya humse usko yeh feel karaya ke woh mental illness pe baat kar sakta hai bina kissi stigma ke’,” Parikh noted.