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Bollywood – Actor Raj Kiran in mental asylum

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Raj Kiran and Shoma Anand in Patita (1980)
Raj Kiran and Shoma Anand in Patita (1980)

It was an unwelcomed plan by destiny. He played the supportive friend to Shabana Azmi in Mahesh Bhatt’s Arth, and made Tum itna jo muskura rahe ho a legendary song with the actress. The actor Raj Kiran, who can immediately be recalled as the one who played Rishi Kapoor’s ‘pre-incarnation’ in Subhash Ghai’s Karz was at the peak of his career in 1970s and 80s, went missing for almost a decade and then later was assumed dead even by friends.

While most had accepted the worst, acquaintance Rishi Kapoor didn’t give up.

He decided to locate the missing actor. And on his recent trip to the USA, Kapoor did what he resolved to do. He found out Raj Kiran, alive in a mental institution in Atlanta.

More than a month ago, Deepti Naval had posted on her FB wall, “Looking for a friend from the film world his name is Raj Kiran – we have no news of him – last heard he was driving a cab in NY city if anyone has any clue, please tell . . .” She was frantically searching for her friend and colleague. Now for everyone like Deepti, here is a piece of important and awakening news.

For someone who is remembered as an engaging, polite and cultured actor, it was shocking that his rumoured death could gather momentum so easily. During his trip, Rishi Kapoor met the missing actor’s brother Govind Mehtani. Says Rishi, “I’ve been wondering where Raj had disappeared.

The question was haunting me for a very long time. Then these rumours of Raj being no more began doing the rounds. I was really disturbed. How can a colleague with whom I shared some really good times, just vanish from the face of earth? I decided to look up Raj’s elder brother Govind Mehtani to find out about Raj.”

It was then that the shocking truth about Raj Kiran spilled out. Says Rishi emotionally, “I was so relieved when Govind told me Raj was alive. But he was confined to an institution in Atlanta due to health problems.” What’s perturbing is that his family too has more or less left Raj to his own devices.

He pays for his own treatment in Atlanta. Says Rishi, “Yes, apparently, he looks after his own treatment by working within the institution. It’s a heart-rending situation for an actor who was so successful at one time. But I’m just happy to know he’s alive.

Raj was very well read and clever with his repartees. I used to enjoy our sparring sessions when we worked together. Though he’s younger to me, we always got along really well. I miss him.”

It appears that his wife with their son abandoned him at some unknown point, the shock of which he couldn’t bear. The rest of his family too didn’t bother, seemingly because his mood swings were intolerable and then it was far too expensive for them to get him treated.

It seems Raj went through a series of domestic crises which left him in a state of acute depression. He was apparently institutionalised in India before he left for the US where he now lives. (Source – The Times of India)

Jagjit Singh sings for Raj Kiran in Arth (1983), music by Jagjit Singh himself. Perhaps the most famous song picturized on Raj Kiran.

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