Mumbai: At 24, TV actress Pratyusha Banerjee was only starting out in life. When I first got to know her, she was barely out of her teens -- a starry-eyed girl from Jharkhand who couldn’t contain her excitement about being selected to play the grown-up Anandi in the very popular series "Balika Vadhu".
Pratyusha was filled with dreams.
“You mark my words. I am going to make Bihar and Jhakhand proud,” she said with a confidence that belied her tender years.
On Friday night, the young actress allegedly committed suicide in Mumbai.
When did her dreams turn into a nightmare? What possible demons could have driven her to such cruelly premature death? Pratyusha’s alleged suicide seems like a revisitation into the Jiah Khan suicide case.
This January, Pratyusha had an ugly run-in with the police because of her boyfriend Rahul Raj Singh, who had allegedly defaulted on a car loan.
This was Pratyusha’s second stormy relationship. Prior to this, her relationship with a certain Makarand Malhotra also ended in disaster with Pratyusha alleging abuse. She went into controversial reality TV show "Bigg Boss" to get over the relationship with Malhotra.
Pratyusha took offence when she was called a "kid" in the Bigg Boss house, but admitted she felt vulnerable and unprotected there.
On being evicted, Pratyusha had told me: “I was the youngest (on the show) and I am also a very private person. I connect with very few close friends in real life. Suddenly, I was thrown together with all these people whom I had never met. Everyone in there was much older than me. It was scary, but it was also a challenge. I’ve come away from the experience much stronger and I’d like to think wiser.”
She also said that she made some good friends on the show.
“Kamya Punjabi was my best friend in there. I also grew very close to Armanji (Kohli), Tanishaa Mukerji, and very recently Ajaz Khan, who entered 'Bigg Boss' very late. They’re my friends for life. I had completed all my pending assignments and put a closure on personal issues. I’ve come out of the experience ready to start my life on a clean slate. Please wish me luck," Pratyusha had said.
Alas, nothing really happened to Pratyusha’s career after "Balika Vadhu" and "Bigg Boss" -- the letter ‘b’ was evidently lucky for her.
From Jamshedpur to Mumbai, Pratyusha was proud of what she had achieved.
“From 'Balika Vadhu' to 'Bigg Boss' was a big leap, I agree. I know I was in the news(for speaking up against an allegedly abusive ex-boyfriend). But I didn’t create that controversy just to be in the news when I go into 'Bigg Boss'. These things just happen," Pratyusha had said.
"The timing was unfortunate. But I am the last person to create a controversy. If I wanted to plan something to be in the news then I would have made the controversy much bigger.”
Ironically, in death, Pratyusha finds herself in a bigger controversy than life could ever offer her.
(Subhash K. Jha is a noted film critic. The views expressed are personal. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)