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Movie stars who died young

Last updated on: August 2, 2011 14:51 IST

Movie stars who died young

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Shaikh Ayaz in Mumbai

Whenever gifted artists die young, legend starts building around them.

British singer Amy Winehouse courted controversies all her life and was even labelled a sex kitten by a popular magazine. Her wild public persona, say experts, overshadowed her music.

While her untimely death triggered off debates of posthumous recognition for art and creativity, here's looking at Bollywood stars who died young, cutting short careers that could have collectively altered the course of history.

Divya Bharti
Died at: 19

The promising actress fell from her building's window and died instantly in 1993. It led to intense media scrutiny at a time when the press wasn't as aggressive as today.

Her demise shocked the industry because she was doing very well commercially and financially. At the time, she was married to producer Sajid Nadiadwala. The police finally shut her case after nearly five years of investigation.


Image: Divya Bharati

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Smita Patil

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Died at: 31

When Smita passed away within weeks of giving birth to son Prateik Babbar, it robbed us off one of the most dynamic actresses of our time.

Each of Smita's performances should serve as a case study for budding heroines. 

Starting off as a television anchor, the dusky actress' talent was first spotted by Shyam Benegal who was to become her chief mentor and would go on to direct her in some of his finest films, including Manthan, Mandi and Bhumika.

Her sudden demise caused a shock wave amongst her admirers.

Her sister Manya Patil Seth had revealed the real cause for her death was 'heartbreak.'


Image: Smita Patil

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Madhubala

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Died at: 36

If Madhubala were alive today, she would have been 78. And, really, she would have looked as beautiful as she did in her prime.

There's a magical quality about Madhubala; every actress worth her salt would die to be in her shoes. Whether it is her famous romance with Dilip Kumar, her splendid performance in Mughal-E-Azam, that famous story of American director Frank Capra's offer to her or her marriage to Kishore Kumar, the actress attracted attention from all quarters.

There's a story about her diary being buried along with her which, however, her family has denied.


Image: Madhubala

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Meena Kumari

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Died at: 39

The tragedy queen's life was like the movies she acted in. An alcoholic and a closet poetess, Meena Kumari lived her life fearlessly.

Her tour de force, Pakeezah, received lukewarm response when it first opened in 1972. The film had drained the actress emotionally since it took 14 years to complete.

Just when her adversaries were about to label it a disaster, her sudden death three weeks after the film's release boosted its prospects tremendously.

Today, Pakeezah is one of Indian cinema's most treasured possessions.


Image: Meena Kumari

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Guru Dutt

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Died at: 39

Is 39 an age to die? That's what Dev Anand often asks about his friend's passing away.

It's so ironical that while Dev is referred to as forever young for his zest for life, his best friend did not live to see his Kagaz Ke Phool and Pyaasa -- two of his most under-rated films at the time -- acquire a cult status.

More than 40 years after he succumbed to a life-long battle with alcoholism and depression, Guru is looked at with fondness and reverence.

Tragically, Dev met Guru for the last time just three days before he died.

'We promised to work again but that was never to be. He was very weak and I couldn't believe it was him. That's not the image of Guru I want to take back. He should have made more pictures,' Dev had once said.


Image: Guru Dutt

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Geeta Dutt

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Died at: 41

The singer with a mesmerising voice gifted Indian cinema some of its most enduring tunes. Right from Babuji Dheere Chalna to Ja Ja Bewafaa and Tadbeer Se Bigdi Hui, Geeta's songs have survived the test of time.

An S D Burman discovery, Geeta went to strike a great personal and professional equation with Guru Dutt, who she later married.

After her husband's death, Geeta started experiencing nervous breakdowns and could never recover. She died in 1972.


Image: Geeta Dutt

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Manish Acharya

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Died at: 43

The US-returned director's first film, Loins of Punjab Presents, surprised everyone.

Here was a talent who could have done so much. He was working on his second film, a thriller set in Mumbai and Tokyo, when he fell off a horse in Matheran, near Mumbai.

His wife Dhruvi Acharya, a painter by profession, now lives with their two children in Breach Candy, Mumbai.

Her husband's death was a jolt that the reclusive artist is yet to recover from. However, she's found solace in her art.


Image: Manish Acharya

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Sanjeev Kumar

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Died at: 47

There emerged in his death a strange paradox. A young Sanjeev, who most his life played older characters did not even live to touch 50. However, his films and his sparkling performances in them are his greatest legacy.

Who would forget the self-respecting Thakur of Sholay, the deaf and mute Hari of Koshish and Abu Baba of Vidhaata?

Those around him had conjectured that maybe he foresaw his early death and that's why despite his mother's persistent appeals, did not marry.

Hari bhai, as he addressed by his colleagues, died of a heart attack in 1985.


Image: Sanjeev Kumar

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