Many of these deaths were completely unexpected.
2016 has not been a kind year to the South Indian artist fraternity. With Padma Vibushan Balamuralikrishna, the ace musician, composer, vocalist and actor, and director K Subash passing away on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively, the year has only grown more gloomy.
On January 25, Kalpana Ranjani, the quick-tongued actor who often played comic roles but could also move us to tears like she did in "Charlie", suffered a heart attack and passed away. Kalpana was the sister of actors Urvashi and Kalaranjini. She had acted in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada.
The suddenness of her death shocked fans and industry insiders alike. Kalpana had won the National Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in "Thanichalla Njan".
On February 5, young singer Shan Johnson was found dead in her house. Shan was only 29 and the news came as a nasty surprise to everyone who knew her. The autopsy report said that she'd suffered a cardiac arrest and that there was no foul play. Shan had lost her father and brother a few years ago but had pulled herself together to build her career in music. However, her dreams were cruelly cut short.
February had another shocker in store: the sudden death of Malayalam director Rajesh Pillai on the 27th, a day after "Vettah", his latest film starring Manju Warrier and Kunchacko Boban, hit the screens. Rajesh was only 41 and his death due to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease was completely unexpected.
Rajesh was perhaps best known for his critically acclaimed film "Traffic". Kollywood superstar Kamal Haasan
believed that it was the director's dietary habits and love for aerated drinks that led to his death.
In March, versatile actor Kalabhavan Mani who could play the clown and the menacing villain with equal flair, passed away under mysterious circumstances. Mani had acted in all four Southern languages and had won the Special Jury Award at the National Film Awards for "Vasanthiyum Lakshmiyum Pinne Njanum". It was reported that he was under depression and had become an alcoholic.
On March 6, the actor was hospitalized only to pass away the same day. His older brother suspected foul play and approached the Kerala CM for a CBI probe. However, conflicting medical reports and lack of evidence have stalled
Tamil TV serial actor Sai Prashanth consumed poison and killed himself on March 13. The actor was supposedly depressed due to financial and personal problems. Sources close to the actor revealed that he had been under considerable stress over these issues but had refused professional help. Nobody however expected him to take the extreme step. Sai Prashanth was popular for his role in the Tamil serial "Thamarai".
On March 16, just three days after Sai Prashanth's death, young TV anchor Nirosha, who worked for Gemini Music TV, killed herself when on a Skype call with her boyfriend who lived in Canada. The rattled boyfriend called her relatives and asked them to check on her but by then, Nirosha was dead.
Nirosha, who had the image of a happy and bubbly person and was looking for an acting break, was not the type to commit suicide, many of her acquaintances said. The suicides of these two young people, Sai Prashanth and Nirosha, reveal the pressures of working in the entertainment industry and the stressful personal lives that celebrities lead behind the glitz and glamour.
Later in March, popular Kadhaprasangam artist VD Rajappan who is known for his comic roles in Malayalam cinema, passed away on the 24th. He was in his seventies and had been ailing for a long time. Rajappan was hailed as Malayalam's king of parody at one point but his family alleged that he was ignored by his colleagues in the industry and died a lonely death.
A day later, Malayalam actor Jishnu passed away on the 25th after battling cancer for two years. Jishnu has appeared in lead roles ("Nammal", his debut film as an adult, was a super-hit) as well as supporting ones. Jishnu shared his experiences with cancer on social media and proved to be an inspiration for many.
The actor tried to be positive till the very end and spoke his mind about a number of things, including cautioning people from trusting alternative medicines too much when it comes to fighting diseases like cancer.
On August 14, two time National Award winning lyricist Na Muthukumar who has penned some of Tamil cinema's most gorgeous lines, died of jaundice. Muthukumar's death came as a rude shock to the industry. He was without a doubt among the best lyricists that Tamil cinema has produced.
His unforgettable lines from songs in films like "Saivam", "Angadi Theru", "Thanga Meengal", "Engeyum Epodhum", and "Veyil" among others continue to keep his memory alive in the minds of the people.
On November 7, two stuntmen who were working in a Kannada film starring Duniya Vijay, tragically lost their lives due to sheer negligence. Anil and Uday were shooting an action sequence that required them to jump from a helicopter into a water reservoir. Though they did not know swimming, they were not wearing any safety gear. The rescue team got Vijay who had been provided with a safety gear out of the water but were unable to find Anil and Uday. Their bodies were recovered only after a prolonged search.
Tamil TV actor Saberna Saboo committed suicide on November 11. Saberna had appeared on many TV shows and was part of the cast in popular Tamil serials. She'd also acted in small roles in films like "Padikadhavan". The reason for her suicide is still unknown.
On November 13, popular film and TV actor Rekha Menon
was found dead in her apartment. The suddenness of her death prompted speculation of foul play. However, the postmortem report revealed that she had died of a heart attack. There were also unconfirmed reports that she was under treatment for cancer. Rekha had acted with Mohanlal as well as Mammooty in her film career.