Shock. Surprise. Sadness...
Are some of the reactions to the untimely death of popular TV actress Pratyusha Banerjee who gave up her life by hanging herself from a fan. A lot is being reported and speculated on the events leading up to the ill fated night. Some are pointing fingers to her boyfriend for pushing her to the verge of claiming her own life, others claim she had turned to substance abuse over the last few months and had no friends to get her out of the mess. Whatever the industry experts might say or her co-stars claim, the fact remains that at a young age of 24, a girl succumbed to her fears and insecurities and decided it was the end of the road for her.
Pratyusha isn't the only one. There have been examples in the past where actors from the small screen have succumbed to their demons. It isn't all glamour and sizzle in the life of a telly star. In fact the pressure to excel and perform is multiple folds higher for a TV actor than his big screen counterpart. Every day there are multiple new faces being auditioned to be cast in shows. Baring a few established and top ranking stars everyone else is a struggler. You might make it big with a show only to be later replaced by an irate producer who thinks you have become too big for your boots. Pratyusha wasn't a struggler. She was a very popular face on the hit TV show Balika Vadhu. In fact she got lots of work after the success of that show and even rejected a few big roles. Her Bigg Boss stint proved that she was a darling of the audience and even got Salman to admit that she was getting tons of votes every week.
So what took Pratyusha's life? Relationship woes or financial mess that pushed her into the murky web of substance abuse? It is too soon to join the dots and pain the full picture. But it's clear that TV stars are living on the edge, not all of them, but most of them. Especially the young boys and girls who are catapulted into stardom overnight only to face depression and mental illness at a later stage. The sad truth is that all the money and the fandom can't replace the touch of a loved one or that late night phone call which affirms that all will be well. I have covered television in the past and met several TV stars who on the surface seemed happy but hid their skeletons in their personal closets. Be it the chirpy and full of life Kuljeet Randhawa who gave up her life or a Rajeev Khandelwal who in the prime of his stardom as Sujal from Kahin Toh Hoga gave up fame because he couldn't handle the pressure of being a telly heartthrob. There are numerous unwritten examples of how stress, loneliness and financial woes have taken a deadly toll on TV stars.
Perhaps the need of this hour is to have a place that provides counselling and care for actors from the industry. It took a lot of courage for a Deepika Padukone to admit that she was battling depression and start a mental health institute. Why should the TV industry wait for another life to be lost ? It's time someone took the initiative and came together to accept that there is a problem and the solution isn't a noose around the neck but a friendly hug that's just an arms length away.
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