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Death In Bollywood: Who is Sooraj Pancholi and how’s he connected to Jiah Khan?


Pancholi maintains his innocence (Picture: BBC)

In the second part of BBC documentary Death In Bollywood, filmmakers move focus from the late Jiah Khan over to Sooraj Pancholi, who remains accused by her family of her murder.

Official rulings state that she died by suicide, after being found hanging from her ceiling fan in 2013 at the family home in Mumbai, which she shared with her boyfriend of five months.

But Rabbiya Khan, Jiah’s mother, as well as the rest of her family, insist that she would have spoken out if she was feeling depressed and suicidal, and launched an investigation of their own.

The independent investigator hired by the family returned findings and the belief that the murder was staged, leading Rabbiya to state publicly that she believed her daughter was actually murdered.

But who is Pancholi, how was he connected to the case and what does he stand accused of?

Here’s what we know…

Sooraj spoke out in his own defence in the documentary (Picture: BBC)

Who is Sooraj Pancholi?

Sooraj Pancholi is a Bollywood actor who has appeared in films Hero and Satellite Shankar.

He started dating Jiah, herself an actress, and according to Pancholi in the film, they were together for five months before her death.

During that time, according to her family, Jiah became more withdrawn and started behaving out of character.

While Pancholi admits to having a argumentative relationship with Jiah, he denies that he was ever abusive, physically or mentally, towards her.

Jiah Khan’s death is still debated over whether it was murder or suicide (Picture: BBC/Grain Media/Rabbiya Khan/Jiah Khan/Farrokh Chothia)

As part of his defence over her state of mind, Pancholi states that Jiah had admitted to him she had self-harmed as a teen but had sworn to never do it again, something the family denies.

It’s been confirmed that Pancholi was the last person to see her before she died, and he had deleted a series of messages between them from his Blackberry in the immediate aftermath of her death.

A suicide letter found at the scene, determined to have been written by Jiah, blames him for her upset, claiming that he had cheated on her, and mentally abused her throughout their relationship.

But it’s since been claimed this note was planted.

Rabbiya Khan insists her daughter was murdered (Picture: BBC)

What are the official rulings to the death of Jiah Khan?

The Mumbai Police and the Central Bureau of Investigations have launched several investigations into Jiah’s death and maintains the official ruling to be suicide. 

However, Pancholi is still on bail, charged with ‘abetment of suicide’, with the case still ongoing.

When approached by the Death In Bollywood filmmakers, the authorities declined to be involved and refused to comment on any of the allegations. 

Neither side of the argument believe the truth has come out regarding Jiah’s death.

Death In Bollywood is available on BBC iPlayer.

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