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Jiah Khan dead: Bollywood actress 'was depressed about career' says director Ram Gopal Varma after star is found hanging at Mumbai home

Star had been educated in London and New York before making it big in the Indian film industry

A struggling Bollywood actress who was educated and grew up in London has been found dead in her Mumbai home, having apparently taken her own life. Her last film role was three years ago.

The body of 25-year-old Nafisah Khan, who also used the name Jiah Khan, was discovered hanging at her home in the Juhu neighbourhood of Mumbai. Police reportedly questioned the actress’s maid and guard to discover who her last visitor may have been.

Officers also spoke with Suraj Pancholi, son of Bollywood actor Aditya Pancholi, with whom he had been having a relationship for the past year. Ms Khan’s body was apparently found on Monday evening by her mother, with whom she shared a home, along with her sister.

According to her website, Ms Khan was born in New York but the family moved to Chelsea area of London. At the age of 17 she returned to New York to study acting at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute.

Khan’s Bollywood debut came in 2007 when she played opposite the celebrated Amitabh Bachchan in the controversial film Nishabd, based on the Vladimir Nabokov’s novel Lolita

Mr Bachchan was one of the several members of the Bollywood community who took to social media to react to news of his former co-star’s death by declaring: “WHAT ...!!! Jiah Khan? What has happened? Is this correct? Unbelievable!!!”

Ram Gopal Varma, who had directed her in Nishabd, commented on Twitter: “Never ever seen a debutant actress with more spunk and more spirit than Jiah when I was directing her in Nishabd.”

But Mr Varma also said Ms Khan had been was very depressed about her career and “scared” for her future.

After her debut, which received mixed reviews, Ms Khan went on to appear alongside Aamir Khan in the blockbuster movie Ghajini. Her last film role was in 2010 when she appeared in the comedy Housefull, with Akshay Kumar. Her website claimed she had signed a part in an upcoming Hollywood production but it gave no further details.

Khan was the daughter of Indian-American Ali Rizvi Khan, and and Rabiya Amin a Hindi film actress from the 1980s. Police said an investigation was currently underway though India media suggested she had been disappointed with the way her career had turned and was thinking of making a change. Some reports said she wanted to work as an interior designer.

“As of now it is not clear that why she took such a drastic step and her mother is in state of shock so in this situation we have not recorded her statement,” senior police officer Chherring Dorje told the DNA newspaper. 

He added: “The cause of death will be more clear after the post-mortem test report arrives. After a preliminary investigation it appears that she had been depressed for the past few months.”

As well as her Bollywood acting, Ms Khan had appeared in an advert for the animal rights campaign group PETA.

Ms Khan had last posted on social media site ten days ago. Her message said: “So sorry I have been off twitter! Took a bit of a break from twitter verse.. sometimes u need a sabbatical to recollect ur thoughts.”