Another Bombay film industry tragedy — Raj Kiran

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It was an unwelcomed plan by destiny. He played the supportive friend to Shabana Azmi in Mahesh Bhatt’s Arth, and made Tum itna jo muskura rahe ho a legendary song with the actress. The actor Raj Kiran, who can immediately be recalled as the one who played Rishi Kapoor’s ‘pre-incarnation’ in Subhash Ghai’s Karz was at the peak of his career in 1970s and 80s, went missing for almost a decade and then later was assumed dead even by friends.

While most had accepted the worst, acquaintance Rishi Kapoor didn’t give up.


He decided to locate the missing actor. And on his recent trip to the USA, Kapoor did what he resolved to do. He found out Raj Kiran, alive in a mental institution in Atlanta.

More than a month ago, Deepti Naval had posted on her FB wall, “Looking for a friend from the film world his name is Raj Kiran – we have no news of him – last heard he was driving a cab in NY city if anyone has any clue, please tell . . .” She was frantically searching for her friend and colleague. Now for everyone like Deepti, here is a piece of important and awakening news.

For someone who is remembered as an engaging, polite and cultured actor, it was shocking that his rumoured death could gather momentum so easily. During his trip, Rishi Kapoor met the missing actor’s brother Govind Mehtani. Says Rishi, “I’ve been wondering where Raj had disappeared.

The question was haunting me for a very long time. Then these rumours of Raj being no more began doing the rounds. I was really disturbed. How can a colleague with whom I shared some really good times, just vanish from the face of earth? I decided to look up Raj’s elder brother Govind Mehtani to find out about Raj.”

It was then that the shocking truth about Raj Kiran spilled out. Says Rishi emotionally, “I was so relieved when Govind told me Raj was alive. But he was confined to an institution in Atlanta due to health problems.” What’s perturbing is that his family too has more or less left Raj to his own devices.

He pays for his own treatment in Atlanta. Says Rishi, “Yes, apparently, he looks after his own treatment by working within the institution. It’s a heart-rending situation for an actor who was so successful at one time. But I’m just happy to know he’s alive.

Raj was very well read and clever with his repartees. I used to enjoy our sparring sessions when we worked together. Though he’s younger to me, we always got along really well. I miss him.”

It appears that his wife with their son abandoned him at some unknown point, the shock of which he couldn’t bear. The rest of his family too didn’t bother, seemingly because his mood swings were intolerable and then it was far too expensive for them to get him treated.

It seems Raj went through a series of domestic crises which left him in a state of acute depression. He was apparently institutionalised in India before he left for the US where he now lives.

His family including his elder brother Govind and younger Ajit, are not in touch with him. When Rishi asked Govind for Raj’s phone number, the brother didn’t have it! Says Rishi, “I wanted to speak to Raj and visit him in Atlanta. But I couldn’t get his contact number. I’m definitely going to visit him and urge him to return home.

Though Raj has not been working for a long time, he invested well. So he was not financially challenged by his illness.”

The actor, whose dazzling smile had lit up many potboilers for two decades, giving remarkable performances in films like B R Ishaara’s Kaagaz Ki Nao, Ghar Ho To Aisa with Anil Kapoor, Meenakshi Sheshadri and Deepti Naval and Kaaran apart from Subhash Ghai’s hit Karz and Mahesh Bhatt’s critically acclaimed Arth in the 1980s, had vanished for almost a decade.

Rishi wants to bring Raj Kiran back to Mumbai and to movies. “I want him to know we care for him. We want him back where he belongs. I’ll personally help him get roles and re-establish himself in Bollywood.” – with inputs by Noyon Jyoti Parasara

The Raj Kiran I Knew…

I had worked with Raj Kiran in Arth and at that time he had never given me a reason to believe that he would ever suffer from such an organic problem. But then years later we heard about bizarre incidents that happened in Bangalore.

Mahesh Bhatt

He had gone to Puttaparthi and there he apparently, tried to scale a wall and got violent and was accused to have attempted to assassinate Sai Baba. He was brought back to Mumbai where he was kept in a Byculla asylum.

I had gone to meet him there. Some time after that I heard his brother took him to the USA. Now I hear that he in Atlanta and again in an asylum. I had experienced Parveen going through these breakdowns. And it got worse with each breakdown.

It hurts when we see someone being reduced to such a human wreck. You actually mourn at your helplessness.

Remembering Raj

‘That’s awful. I always wondered where he got to. He was a wonderful actor.

We even did film together years ago. Where is his family?

– Shekhar Kapur

‘I always feel sad about Raj Kiran. He was a thorough gentleman as a new comer in Karz.

But I guess after Karz he got too much of media hype and didn’t get the success he expected.

It made him disturbed apart from his personal life problems. I don’t know thereafter.

– Subhash Ghai

“I am deeply, deeply sorry to hear this. I had met him several years ago at a mental institution in Mumbai and he seemed to be on his way to recovery because he had periods of lucidity.

He was so good in Arth. My heart goes out to him…”

– Shabana Azmi

“Oh my God! We have worked in many films together. He was a very good actor and very nice human being. I pray he gets well soon.”

– Mithun Chakraborty

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56 Responses to “Another Bombay film industry tragedy — Raj Kiran”

  1. chengez khan Says:

    when i was a kid i though he was Anil kapoors elder brother..

    Like

  2. Sometimes I wonder if the very nature of acting profession leads to mental instability. There have been so many such cases, starting with Bollywood’s Parveen Babi, Hollywood’s suicidal stars, the violent/reclusive ones—and some cases come out in the open, while some get hushed up. Acting is a different profession than say accountancy or healthcare; you earn your living by being somebody else for a few hours per day. There is a constant battle I guess, to maintain stability and normalcy in what is a bizzare unreal world full of role-play, big money, publicity, fanatical supporters or detractors…not an easy life.

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  3. iffrononfire Says:

    he had cameo in karz

    karz was not a box office sucess( a flop actually) but the film had great shelf life and aged really well

    srk and farah recently remade it under the name of om shanti om( with the climax lifted from madhumati ….. another classic)

    dual personality , drugs , high on life , big ego are some of the big drawback of this profession and i guess depression to if you are not as sucessful as you deserve

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  4. vatikala Says:

    Because they are in the film industry, their plight is being highlighed. Everywhere else also there are many cases of schizo. bipolar etc. There are many sleeper cases which may explode. We are not born because we wanted it. And then many of us have to cope with ourselves as well as the outside world. Some survive, some dont. Some go berserk. It is a sad sad world sugarcoated with some happy moments.

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    • You are right again vati. I have a close relative with this kind of disorder. Family cannot do much (when person has a illness) and I can explain that in detail, if needed. In fact what RK’s family has done (put him in a place where he is looked after) is the very best. Mental illness is NOT caused by relatives or friends or difficult situations in life but having in fact results in difficulties in life because one is not able to handle/takecare of day to day stuff while suffering from illness.

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      • vatikala Says:

        hi, dimps.

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        • vatikala Says:

          I also know one person who is suffering from this and yet refuses to see the doctor. His wife is undergoing hell. I cant do anything because she expressly forbid me from interfering. I am afraid. One day some terrible thing is going to happen. We read almost everyday that such and such person murdered his wife or her husband. If the patient is in denial, nothing can help the situation.

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          • “yet refuses to see the doctor.”

            THAT is the most critical thing. The person suffering from disorder thinks everything is OK..their hallucinations are reality (VERY beautifully captured by Ron Howard in A beautiful mind and what a mindblowing performance by Russell who I love BTW). Getting treatment is the cornerstone to complete recovery. If you are based in India, you can ask your friend not be embarassed and to go to a good pschiatrist HERSELF and discuss the matter to the doctor herself and take intelligent decisions (not just based on your advice but doc’s advise). However the patient accepting and taking is ANOTHER matter. In USA you cannot force people to take meds…In india it is doeable. Did you see “one flew over cocoo’s nest”

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  5. iffrononfire Says:

    infact on the contrary only a few cases in movie industries are highlighted

    lot of cover up has been done and not for nothing its called Showbusiness

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    • it is like that in LIFE…everywhere. The show must go on (in all areas of life). If someone is suffering, doesn’t mean the whole world has to end and stop…right…that is the way of the nature.

      Like

    • iffrononfire Says:

      dimps:

      beautiful mind is one of my fav. movie simply because it inspires and motivates you alot

      it was a pleasure to see how crowe kept on fighting his illness but he had a stubborn support from his wife and children( even when he unknowingly he tried to kill his small children which is rare in real life and thats where there is a huge difference between reel(filmy) and real life

      in indian context sridevi was just mindblowing in sadma

      Like

      • iffrononfire Says:

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        • fire…I sort of disagree with you. Sadma, just on fiction basis and solely on acting basis might be a good movie BUT that after recovery one forgets the person…yada…yada…bullcrap. I have lot of objections to such misleading portrayal in indian cinema!!!

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          • I love this film. I don’t know whether this sort of thing being ‘really’ possible or not has much relevance. The film offers a ‘poetic’ truth, not a documentary one.

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          • REALLY!!! Do you think that beautiful mind, tarey zamin par etc were documentary?!?! How would you react if the little boy in TZP was shown as mental instead of dyslexic?!? When you take up paranoia, progeria, autism or dyslexia it becomes your onus as a movie maker to present the facts. None of these movies (Paa, BM, TZP) were documentaries. I care less if hair-brained plots are shown for sake of entertaintment (mother losing twin son who are raised as police and a thief etc) but to show someone as mentally slow, innocent, low IQed and suddenly getting cured of all of it and in turn forgetting all that “past” is sacrilegious…promotes misinformation in society and should never be done! Rolling my eyes and stomping my feet.

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          • The Graduate Says:

            Dimps,

            Heard of Lacunar Amnesia ever–there are many variants!!

            Like

      • Filmbuff Says:

        Tamil orginial of sadma ie “Munram peerai” was simply beautiful. Sridevi did a fab job while enacting the scenes where she regresses back to childhood but Kamal carried away the kudos esp in the last scene!

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        • vatikala Says:

          Kamal’s acting was classy and the song by Yesudas is simply out of this world. Is it Ilaiyaraja? Kamal and Sridevi made a good pair. But a 6 year old behaves much better. If the 6 year olds start behaving like Sridevi in that movie, they will be considered hyper and odd. Kama’s acting saved that film.

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          • kamal tends to overact. I like mohanlal better. Of course Kamal is multi-talented/versatile actor. That dude has (or has had) way too many affairs!!!

            Like

          • vatikala Says:

            It is his personal life. In that he is like Gemini Ganeshan.Rekha’s father. Many consider him way better than overdramatic Shivaji and mediocre MGR. But any day I prefer Kamal and Gemini Ganeshan’s movies. And there are scores of better tamil actors besides these two.

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          • Yhea…his business. But there should be a cap on number of affairs on can have….ROFL…hahahha I love him in EDKL with Rati Agnihotri….love the way he can do BN/dance…so talented and good lookerr….wonder why he was not all that successful in hindi movies. I think hindi cinema doesn’t like macho men from south (too much testostrone or too much of mouch/moustache) and feel threatened by them…where as the south heroines are most welcome!!!

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        • you can take the director out of TN but cannot take TN out of the director…originals are always better. Didn’t see this one in original. Sri is alright…too many gestures and too much use of eyes and I felt sometimes as if she was making faces at the camera….so may be good but never got to play roles like Vidhya OR maybe I haven’t seen all her works to truely admire her. She is tall, pretty but VERY BAD diction (terrible hindi) and as long as Farida Jalal was doing her voice (dubbing) it was OK….but taking voice away from actor is like taking fish out of water….dialogues are their lifeline (so methinks).

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          • vatikala Says:

            You are right. Dialogues are the soul of an actor. That is why she always looked like a fake inspite of her beauty and talent. Just imagine Bachchan without his voice or even our dear SRK without his?

            Like

        • iffrononfire Says:

          dimps: sadma was released in early 80’s…

          beautiful mind came a much later allmost there was a gap of 20 years and also you can’t compare the sophisticated tecnology of hollywood with bollywood even today and here you are comparing the time gap of 20 years

          for his time it was a landmark movie for all his flaws…..

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          • iffrononfire, LOL. You are the one who brought the two comparisions (see above comments). There are older movies (one flew over cocoo’s nest etc). Sadma I don’t remember the details. I just sort of have “objections” to the very last scene but as Satyam says its poetic “truth”….ha…I don’t like such “truths” which are complete falsehood…hahaha!

            Like

  6. iffrononfire Says:

    but ya lately media is giving lot of prominence to things in i.t ( on professional front) and glamour

    Like

    • iffrononfire Says:

      i didn’t brought the comparison but i said in indian context sadma was one movie which touched heart

      on last context for your information even noble winners don’t give speeches and here is the realism in the so called beautiful mind …..

      people do take cinematic liberties every time …

      for paa there was curious case of benjamin button to which showed sheer exaggeration

      tzp was more in model of iranian model of cinema

      sometimes blindly praising the west to don’t serve any purpose

      Like

  7. vatikala Says:

    There are classic cases of Meena Kumari, Madhubala, Gurudutt, Nalini Jaywant, Priya Rajvansh who did not have great lives after those great moments on silver screen. Parveen Babi was a popular heroine, but Raj Kiran is in also ran category. The film people themselves are always on survival mode in the cutthroat competition world. Ultimately everyone has to fend for oneself. If the family is with them, it is great.

    Like

    • “The film people themselves are always on survival mode in the cutthroat competition world.”

      It is like that in ALL professions, not just filmy. Just filmy stuff becomes everyone’s business because it is in limelight. I know so-so-so many people who left their professions to be with their families, raise kids (Sudha Murthy, Madhuri dixit, Jaya Bachchan etc are examples of it). It is YOU who decides what priorities are in life. For Parveen B, family/kids etc was never important. We all have heartbreaks in life…we have to decide to get over it…take help and recovery…or wallow in self-pity, take drugs and alchohol and never come out of it!

      Like

      • vatikala Says:

        And there is genuine bipolar cases which has nothing to do with any of the things above. The material world demands may trigger pent up sadness. One may be extremely successful, with a very good family life and yet may suffer from deep depression. The external trappings are bubbles that may burst any time. Something to do with chemical imbalance in the brain.
        Gautam Buddha chose the path of renunciation, meditation, enlightenment and propagation of his wisdom. Some people choose the easy way out.
        I saw beautiful Mind many times and it is a beautiful film. The halluciations are somewhat dreamlike situations.

        Like

      • Filmbuff Says:

        @dimps – Parveen Babi was sadly diagnosed with Schizophrenia at an early stage. One cannot assume that family life was not important to her. Like many women who unfortunately happened to fall in love or get invovled with the wrong guys in life, Parveen too was a case in point. It is very sad to see or know about people who suffer from mental health problems whether celebrities or ordinary people. I would not be so harsh on Raj Kiran’s family either like the way the journo has reported.

        Like

  8. oldgold Says:

    I’m beginning to see some signs of mental disturbance in SRK.
    If Ra.one fails this disturbance might escalate. Lets hope his family will support him if it does happen…more than poor Raj Kiran’s.

    Like

    • awwwwwwwww…that is NOT fair. To blame Raj Kiran’s family without knowing the truth. This is so sad and bad!!!
      SRK: I TOTALLY agree. Look at bigb. Even read his old interview. He was/is very grounded man. There is more to life than movies/profession/success. In fact I had epiphany on all this very early in life due to my “retirement”. We identify SO much with our jobs/profession/titles that we forget who we really are!!! None of it really matters. Its just a process of bringing food to table.

      Like

      • oldgold Says:

        >awwwwwwwww…that is NOT fair. To blame Raj Kiran’s family without knowing the truth. This is so sad and bad!!!

        Yes. I stand guilty.

        Like

  9. These articles are ludicrous! Yes this situation maybe true, but he has two daughters and no son as per my knowledge.
    Leave the man and his family alone!! They’re suffering too.

    Like

  10. “It appears that his wife with their son abandoned him at some unknown point, the shock of which he couldn’t bear. ”

    This must be the root cause. A wife who walks away from a marriage leaves the same trauma in her husband as much as a rapist with his victim.

    Unfortunately, there is no law against this. There must be a law which would prevent a wife from walking away from her husband, and against those (third-parties such as in-laws, friends etc) who intentionally attempt to break up a marriage.

    Like

  11. salimjakhra Says:

    Seeing as Mental Health is my specialty I can’t avoid making a couple of comments.

    Firstly – the article is quite disgusting. The way they are talking about matters which they really don’t know about is quite irritating, especially the blame they are laying on the family. Not my idea of good journalism.

    Secondly – blaming Parveen Babi’s lack of concern for family life as being the cause of her schizophrenia…seriously! I don’t think that is a known cause in any textbook I’ve studied!

    Thirdly – SRK. I have to agree…his performance of KWK was concerning.

    The good news though is that I’m going to see Rahat in concert later this month 🙂

    Watched loads of old movies recently…will post mini-reviews soon.

    Like

  12. Kajol To Join Shahrukh Khan And Katrina Kaif In YRF’s Next?

    Like

  13. It will be amazing if it goes through…yash chopra is back!

    Like

  14. Rishi kapoor wants to bring him back from Atlanta to the world’s largest mental assylum – Hindi cinema industry!!!

    Like

  15. alex adams Says:

    Agree Salimjakhra…
    but these “journalists” cannot be blamed…
    Schizophrenia is quitr mis (under) daignosed in the developing world…
    Although in some segments of the west, it seems to be over reported and it seems to be the “in thing” to be “stressed out” or having a wierd matnal disorder..
    Kajol to join srk and Katrina—
    Typical “hit designing” by Chopra…
    Hope to see a “threesome” sequence as part of an edgy Chopra to the music of AR Rahman….lol

    Like

  16. MANJEET SINGH MAHAL Says:

    I can spare a business class ticket for Mr. Raj kiran hindi film actor to bring him back to India.

    I think a little support of anybody may boost his life and career.

    I hope he will come out of this all…

    Like

  17. Rishi to help Raj Kiran return to B-town

    Rishi Kapoor, who traced his missing Karz co-star Raj Kiran to a mental asylum in the US, now plans to help the actor make his Bollywood comeback. Kapoor located his colleague, who went missing in the US a decade ago, in a mental institution in Atlanta. “I plan to visit the US again to meet Kiran and urge him to come back. I will help re-establish him and I am sure he will get work,” said Kapoor.

    The search for the missing actor, who starred in critically acclaimed films like Arth and Kaagaz Ki Nao, began when his Hip Hip Hurray co-star Deepti Naval wrote a Facebook post about him. “I am relieved that he is well enough to work and is receiving treatment after his wife and children left him. I hope to reach him soon,” said Naval.

    The news created a stir in filmi and non-filmi quarters. Shah Rukh Khan was quoted as saying that he was “shocked beyond words” to hear about Kiran’s condition. Also, BJP leader Sushma Swaraj wrote on Twitter: “It is a matter of great satisfaction that actor Raj Kiran has been traced after 10 long years. Unfortunately, he is in a mental asylum in America.” The actor’s family, including his two brothers, wife and son, had reportedly disowned him after he started suffering from acute depression and mood-swings.

    Like

  18. Raj Kiran did a few D grade horror films in the 90s. Saw him recently in the following and felt really sorry for him:

    this is from 1998.

    Like

  19. alex adams Says:

    Satyam–u do have a thing for “d grade Horror films”–the ramsay types (and raj kiran)…lol
    Also, didnt know u were a naveen nishchal fan (saawan bhado–never watched that film–suspect it had a raw plump rekha )….apart from the old agent vinod
    hahaha
    Everyone is entitled to a few fetishes….

    Like

    • Not a Navin Nischol fan but I operate with the assumption that nothing from that period of Hindi cinema is completely irredeemable! Sawan Bhadon I believe was Rekha’s debut film (and Nischol’s as well).

      Like

    • Ramsays were prestige horror! LOL! Some of those films had important starcasts. Nischol did a few!

      Like

  20. alex adams Says:

    Was a just curious about Satyams interest in “d grade Ramsay” stuff and “raj Kiran”.
    Just saw the first few seconds of the Raj Kiran film(dayan part2) posted by Satyam , and it explained his interest!!! HAve a look folks lol
    hahaha
    as i said b4, everyone is entitled to a few fetishes…..lol

    Like

  21. alex adams Says:

    My “efforts” at pullin Satyam away from Raj Kiran and “d grade stuff” (see posts above) seem to have worked…
    Satyam is apparently watching one of the films I am v keen to watch -Midnight in Paris…
    Will be interesting to hear his cumments on the film (and on Marion Cotillard)…
    ANd while u are at it—suggest u give “Love actually” a viewing—this KJO-esque rom-com will incite some really interesting cumments…lol

    Like

    • this was part of a comment I left on Bachchan’s blog the other day:

      “Saw Terence Malick’s stunningly and characteristically extraordinary Tree of Life. There is perhaps no greater poet of sight and sound in the contemporary world. Certainly he is among our leading lights in this sense. And not many filmmakers offer cinema as experience the way he continues to. As a translator of Heidegger he ought to be in any case close to my heart! It is the kind of film you will assuredly be very moved by. I am unsure whether this will release in India. Perhaps it will play at a film festival or something. But if you manage to make it to this other hemisphere anytime soon you must make a point to check this out. In the meantime his New World (3 hr version), Thin Red Line, Days of Heaven are all available on DVD (all on Blu-Ray too if I’m not mistaken). His first Badlands might not yet be (on Blu-Ra) but it is also ‘lesser’ to these other masterworks he’s made. You might have seen some or all of these films.”

      Like

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