Actor Kushal Punjabi, who appeared in films such as Kaal and Lakshya as well as the reality show Fear Factor, was found dead in his Bandra apartment in Mumbai the early hours of Friday. He was 42.
Punjabi, whose body was found by his parents around 2 am, left behind a suicide note in which he said nobody should be held responsible for his death, a police official said. His parents went to his home in Alstic Building on St Andrews Road after he did not pick up his phone, he said.
Punjabi is survived by his son Kian, parents, sisters and his wife from whom he was reportedly estranged.
"He was found dead by his parents around 2 am on Friday. His parents reached his building after he did not pick up their calls. He left a one-and-a-half page suicide note..." senior police inspector from Bandra police station Vijay Lakshmi Hiremath said.
The note said all his property should be divided between his parents, son and sisters.
Speaking to Pinkvilla, Punjabiâ€™s friend Chetan Hansraj, also an actor, said that Punjabiâ€™s parents called him up that night after Punjabi didnâ€™t open his door. When they managed to open the door, they found the body.
â€śWe were all dead shocked and I still cannot believe that this has happened. We tried CPR but it was too late,â€ť Hansraj told Pinkvilla.
On the basis of primary information, an Accidental Death Report (ADR) has been registered in the Bandra police station, officials said.
As #KushalPunjabi trended on Twitter, many took to the microblogging site to spotlight issues related to mental health and depression.
According to TV actor and friend Chetan Hansraj, Punjabi and his wife were living separately.
"I don't want to talk about it at this time. They were not separated (but) they were undergoing separation. He was living here while she was staying abroad with their son. I got to know about it just a few days ago. He was going through a depressed phase" Hansraj told PTI, declining to go into detail.
He added that the actor's last rites will take place on Saturday at 12pm.
Punjabi's close friend, actor Karanvir Bohra, first broke the news about Punjabi's death on social media.
"Your demise has shocked the hell out of me. I'm still in denial @itsme_kushalpunjabi I know you are in a happier place, but this is unfathomable. The way you lead your life really inspired me in more ways than one.... But what was I to know," Bohra wrote on Instagram.
"Your zest for dancing, fitness, off-road biking, fatherhood and above all that, that smiling face of yours, your happy-go-lucky nature your warmth all that was such ingenuity. I'm gonna miss you so much #kushlani. You will always be remembered sad a guy who lived a full life," Bohra added.
Lakshya director Farhan Akhtar said he was shocked by Punjabi's sudden demise.
"Shocked and saddened to hear of Kushal Punjabi taking his own life. Have fond memories of working with him on Lakshya and witnessing him kick everyone's behind at boot camp. You will be missed brother. Condolences to the family," Farhan posted on Twitter.
For many in the industry, Punjabi's untimely death recalled the suicides of actors Pratyusha Banerjee, Kuljeet Randhawa and Nafisa Joseph, all young, upcoming TV stars gone too soon.
"I just cannot come to the terms that Kushal is no more. Always ready to face challenges of all kinds and such an adorable father. He was a friend but more like a younger brother to me. RIP #KushalPunjabi," singer-rapper Baba Sehgal wrote on Instagram.
Yeh Hai Mohabbatein star Karan Patel also expressed shock over Punjabi's death.
"RIP, my brother. Guess it's true when they say, 'The happiest faces hide the most saddened hearts'. Seeing your spirit and zest for life, never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that you will bid your final goodbye to life in a way that will send a chill down our spines every time we think of you."
Punjabi started his career as a dancer and model. He appeared in several music videos such as Pehla Nasha (remix) and DJ Aqeel's Kehdoon Tumhen recreation.
He also participated in Gladrags Manhunt Contest in the year 2000.
His film career started with 1996's anthology feature Bomgay, which also featured Rahul Bose with whom he later starred in Kaizad Gustad's 1998 movie Bombay Boys.
Punjabi followed it up with Akshay Kumar and Priyanka Chopra-starrer Andaaz and murder mystery Sssshhh...
The actor shared screen space with the likes of John Abraham, Ajay Devgn and Vivek Oberoi in Karan Johar and Shah Rukh Khan's joint production Kaal, which released in 2005.
In 2007, Punjabi played pivotal roles in ensemble romantic comedy Salaam-e-Ishq and soccer drama Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal, starring Abraham and Arshad Warsi.
His television career began with A Mouthful Of Sky in 1995 and over the years, Punjabi featured in popular shows such as Kasam Se, Kkusum, Dekho Magar Pyaar Se and Raja Ki Aayegi Baraat.
Punjabi also appeared in multiple reality shows such as Fear Factor, Mr. & Miss TV, Paisa Bhari Padega and Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa.
In 2011, he won the Shah Rukh Khan-hosted reality game show, "Zor Ka Jhatka: Total Wipeout", an Indian version of US series of the same name.
With inputs from PTI