Mumbai: The dark and shallow world of fashion has claimed another victim. Postmortem report confirms that former supermodel Viveka Babajee, who was found hanging from the ceiling fan of her Bandra flat in Mumbai, committed suicide. There are reports that the model was suffering from depression and was on sleeping pills.
Police is still investigating the matter. According to Viveka’s friend Anita, the immediate cause of her extreme step may be her split with her boyfriend, Gautam.
Viveka, 37, was found hanging from the ceiling fan of her Bandra flat Friday evening. Though no suicide note was found, several letters were found addressed to Gautam.
Reactions from fashion fraternity
A section of the fashion fraternity maintains her suicide had nothing to do with her modelling career, but the personal mess she was in. Others disagree.
"She was really upset because of the break-up. Though she recently did a fashion show, where she was all chirpy, but deep inside it seems she was not at all happy," choreographer Damandeep said from Mumbai.
Anil Mishra, a close friend of Viveka, said: "I have known her for two years. She was like a sister to me. I have been attending events organised by her. It is sad... I never expected her to take a step like this."
One of her former boyfriends, who did not wish to be named, was shocked.
"We had broken off mutually in December last year. I have known her as a strong-headed girl. I really don`t understand what made her so weak as to take a step like this?" he said.
"She was doing well, her company is doing well but I don`t know... I am shocked."
This is not the first such incident in India`s fashion industry. Former Miss India Nafisa Joseph hanged herself in 2004 while model-turned-TV actress Kuljeet Randhawa committed suicide in 2006.
The other side of the fashion industry was portrayed well in Madhur Bhandarkar`s "Fashion" that showed back-stabbing, work pressure as well as competition taking its toll on a model`s life.
Is the fashion world so dark and murky in reality?
Sunil Sethi, president of the Fashion Design Council of India, does not think so.
Sethi said: "First of all Viveka was not a model any more, she was heading an event management company. So it would be wrong to point a finger at the industry."
Talking about Viveka, Sethi said: "I had always found her to be a happy person. I am surprised how she taken such a step like this. It is hard to believe. It`s sad news."
Though there are those who feel that personal reasons forced Viveka to end her life, others point to the dark side of the glamour industry.
Fashion designer and choreographer Harmeet Bajaj, who knew Viveka, said: "The modelling world has its disadvantages. Girls become stars overnight, men chase them and woo them with gifts. They have a fabulous life. But as soon as they start ageing, the charm fades away, so does the illusionary world.
"Those who succumb to the pressure take such steps while those who move on with the reality, live a good life," she added.
Designer Gunjan of Sirali label warned that the incident was like the "tip of the iceberg".
"People will say nothing is wrong with the industry but they all are lying. Deep inside, they are pseudo people, who don`t want to face the reality. Trust me, the scene is very bad," Gunjan said.
Terming her suicide as an "unfortunate" incident, Mumbai-based photographer Daboo Ratnani remembers Viveka as a strong person.
"I don't think that she was a person who would give up. She never looked depressed and it's the media which is assuming that she was in depression and hence committed suicide," Ratnani said.
"She used to enjoy whatever she did - modelling, choreography or events. She was a very professional person and I loved working with her. I met her few months back and I remember she was fine. I didn't feel for a moment she was going through something," he added.
Ace photographer Atul Kasbekar who had shot the famous "Kamasutra" advertisement with Babajee said that it was hard to believe that she is no more.
"I had worked with her during the 'Kamasutra' campaign and she had come across as a very happy, warm and nice person who always used to smile. Though, it has been a long time since I worked with her, the news of the suicide is a real shocker. I would have never imagined her to take such a drastic step," Kasbekar said on the phone from Mumbai.
A number of Bollywood celebrities also mourned the death of the former supermodel who had also worked in a movie "Yeh Kaisi Mohabbat".
"Viveka was one of the nicest people. Kind, helpful, warm and friendly. I can still see her smiling. RIP (Rest in Peace) Viveka," Dia Mirza wrote on her Twitter account.
Bollywood actor Vivek Oberoi posted: "Viveka Babajee....really sad that she took her own life. May god give her the peace and solace she was looking for and give her family the strength to cope with this untimely tragedy. God bless!."
Jewellery designer Farah Khan said it was a sad incident but one should never give up in life.
"It does not take courage to take one's life..it is 'failure' that makes one do such a cowardly act without even thinking of the pain one causes to loved ones," Farah posted on her Twitter page.
"It's sad Viveka took such a step but I have no sympathy for people who take their lives...I prefer people who are strong and fight back not ones who cave in...Be Strong and a winner not a loser," she wrote.
(With IANS inputs)