In a shocking turn of events model, actor, anchor and reality-show participant Kushal Punjabi ended his life on December 26 evening.
Exactly why a 37-year old entertainer with a beautiful wife and 4-year old son would do something drastic is unknown. But I remember Kushal’s zest for life. There were problems in his family that I won’t like to discuss. But he would confide liberally with me about his very hectic love life and his trysts with various filmmakers who would apply the law of lust to his ambitions.
He once told me about giving the casting couch a try with a very very high-profile producer. “We kissed. But I couldn’t go beyond that with him. I said sorry and left hurriedly.”
Living life on his own terms came naturally to Kushal. He did what he wanted and did it without inhibitions. In his very first film Bom Gay he featured in a gay gangrape sequence with Rahul Bose. Kushal happily went fully unclothed for the role.
“Anything on camera, but sorry, no compromises to get work,” he told me.
We saw him in films like Karan Johar’s Kaal and Prakash Jha’s Krazy Kukkad Family. Kushal also scripted the latter. I remember he was very enthusiastic about a zombie horror film he was doing with Abhay Deol. It never got released.
I remember how excited he was about the opportunity to script Krazy Kukkad Family. “I got the story idea during my visit to a family function but I didn’t know that it would turn into a film. I wrote the script and kept it aside. But later, through a friend, I got in touch with Prakashji and he readily accepted to make it into a film.”
Kushal has had some bitter experiences in the past dealing with roles that turned out to be far less important than he was led to believe. Apparently, nearly half of Kushal’s role in a football-based film was chopped off.
Kushal spoke to me about the frustrations of just waiting for success to happen. “The big opportunities still elude me. I won’t sign on anything that comes my way just because I don’t have a better option. There are always ads to keep me going. But the problem is, once you acquire the reputation of a competent actor the big stars shy away from working with you. But it’s okay. I make enough money to live the way I want to. In fact, I’ve just bought myself a home. And in Bombay, that’s a dream come true.”
Evidently it was not okay.
Shocked by Kushal’s suicide fellow-actor Karanvir Bohra says, “When I heard about Kushal Punjabi’s suicide I was shocked. He was always so enthusiastic about so many things. He had his hands full with various activities, always on the job, full of energy. What could’ve driven him to take such an extreme step?”