Posted By

Tags

Suicide of young television actress Tunisha Sharma spurs controversy

Tunisha Sharma: Speculation on her death on December 24, 2022 (Instagram)

Cherylann Mollan (BBC News, Mumbai)
Auckland, January 6, 2023

The alleged suicide of a television actress has been making headlines in India because of the circumstances surrounding her death and the arrest of her former boyfriend amid accusations of religious manipulation.

Tunisha Sharma was found dead on 24 December 2022 in a toilet on the set of her show Alibaba – Dastaan-e-Kabul.

A day later, her co-star and former boyfriend Sheezan Khan was arrested by the Police after Tunisha’s mother accused him of ‘abetment to suicide,’ which he denies.

Senior Police official Chandrakant Jadhav told reporters that Tunisha took her own life and that they are investigating what led her to do so.

The 20-year-old’s death has shocked India’s entertainment industry – she was a rising star and had a huge fan following on social media.

Just hours before her death, she had posted a photo of herself on Instagram with the caption “those who are driven by their passion doesn’t [don’t] stop.” The post has more than 800,000 likes and thousands of comments, with fans expressing shock over her sudden death and wondering how a person who seemed “so positive could take such a drastic step.”

The tragic incident has been obsessively covered by the media, with the actress’s life and relationships under the microscope. Live news pages have given minute-by-minute updates on every aspect of the police investigation.

And everyone from Tunisha’s peers and friends to close family has been tapped for interviews, leading to a pool of stories rife with speculation and unverified claims.

About Tunisha Sharma

Born in Chandigarh, Tunisha harboured dreams of becoming an actress from a young age.

She was barely 13 when she began acting in TV shows and gradually made her way to the big screen, playing small roles in films starring popular Bollywood actors such as Katrina Kaif and Vidya Balan.

Tunisha Sharma with Sheezan Khan (Instagram via BBC News)

But it was her success on the small screen that brought her fame. The actress portrayed diverse roles – in her latest show inspired by the folk tale Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, she was playing a Royal Princess.

But despite her seemingly charmed life, the young actress was struggling to cope. In earlier interviews, she had spoken about battling depression and anxiety and struggling with stress brought on by work and social media scrutiny.

After her family blamed Sheezan, her 28-year-old co-star from the show for her death, he was arrested on 25 December, 2022 and remains in judicial custody.

The voyeuristic coverage in the media has also extended to Sheezan’s life and his time in custody.

It has continued despite warning from legal experts that intense media coverage around cases where all the facts are not known can hamper the investigation and be prejudicial towards the accused and disrespect the deceased.

The Media War

According to reports, Tunisha and Sheezan had been dating for a few months but the Police said that the couple had broken up 15 days before her death. They said that the separation had put the actress under ‘extreme stress and was suspected to have driven her over the edge.’

The Police have questioned several people in connection with the case and scanned several pages worth of WhatsApp chats between Tunisha and Sheezan.

They have also accused Sheezan of not cooperating with the investigation – an allegation denied by his lawyer. The actor’s bail plea is due to be heard on Saturday, January 7, 2023.

Alibaba Dastaan-e-Kabul: A popular TV serial on Sony since August 22, 2022 (Ahmed Studio Photo)

His lawyer said that Sheezan is innocent.

Family members of Sheezan and Tunisha have been sharing details with the media about the couple’s relationship and have also been trading accusations against each other.

Tunisha’s mother Vanita Sharma has alleged that Sheezan cheated on her daughter and accused him of hitting her on set. She said that she suspected her daughter had been ‘murdered’ and accused Sheezan of not calling an ambulance immediately after finding her daughter’s body.

On Monday (January 2, 2023), Sheezan’s sisters, his lawyer and his mother addressed a press conference at which they rejected all the allegations against him – that he took drugs, had affairs or assaulted Tunisha.

They also levelled several allegations against Vanita Sharma, saying that her relations with her daughter were ‘strained,’ and that she ‘controlled her [daughter’s] life and finances.’

Tunisha’s family has denied all the allegations and said that they would respond in detail soon.

Cherylann Mollan is a BBC News Reporter based in Mumbai. The above story and pictures have been published under a Special Arrangement.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Share this story

Related Stories

Indian Newslink

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement