Kushal Punjabi: ‘Gone too soon’

Sana Farzeen
Kushal Punjabi

Kushal Punjabi was 42.

The television industry and fans on Friday woke up to the shocking news of Kushal Punjabi's suicide. The actor was, reportedly, depressed about his failed marriage and health issues. Punjabi tied the knot with Audrey Dolhen in 2014, and they have a three-year-old son Kian. Dolhen is currently residing in Shanghai with their son, and she is expected to land in India for Punjabi's last rites.

Punjabi's close friends Chetan Hansraj, Karan Patel, Karanvir Bohra, Shweta Tiwari, Kavita Kaushik and Dalljiet Kaur among others shared condolences on their social media accounts. Apart from the shock, each of the messages had the same emotion - 'Gone too soon, Kushal'.

Kushal Punjabi will be remembered by friends and family for his smiling face, interest in fitness and love for his son Kian. Punjabi's social media account is a testimony of his love for his son, adventure and fitness. His last Instagram story posted hours before his death also featured a cute picture of his son.

Kushal Punjabi

Kushal Punjabi's last Instagram story posted hours before his death also featured a cute picture of his son.

Born and raised in Mumbai, Punjabi was a dancer trained in dance forms like Modern Jazz and Hip Hop. Apart from choreographing music videos, he has also choreographed Gladrags Manhunt Megamodel and Mrs. India contestants. Punjabi started his career in the entertainment industry as a model and went on to star in number of music videos. Many remember his appearance in songs like DJ Aqeel's “Keh du tumhe” and Shweta Shetty's “Deewane to deewane hai”. Along with the good looks and physique, his dance skills were highlighted in these projects.

With television being a prominent medium back then, Kushal Punjabi made his acting debut in 1995 with DD Metro series A Mouthful Of Sky. He followed it up with shows like Love Marriage, Don, Sshh Koi Hai, CID, Kkusum. The actor's noteworthy work also includes Kasamh Se, Dekho Magar Pyaar Se, Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa, Hum Tum, Rishta.Com and Gutur Gu. In the reality space, he has participated in shows like Mr & Ms TV, Fear Factor: Khatron Ke Khiladi, Fun on the Run, Ek Se BadhKar Ek, Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa and even went on to win Shah Rukh Khan hosted Zor Ka Jhatka. Punjabi last appeared in Ishq Mein Marjawan.

On the film front, Punjabi has starred in Akshay Kumar's Andaaz, Hrithik Roshan's Lakshya, Ajay Devgn-John Abraham's Kaal, Salman Khan's Salaam-e-Ishq and Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal. The actor also made his digital debut with Sony LIV's Love Bytes.

While he might not be remembered as a television star, Kushal Punjabi did manage to make his mark. He played each of his characters with conviction. A sports and bike enthusiast, he also dedicated his time to a lot of outdoor activities.

In one of his last social media posts, Kushal Punjabi had opened up about his recent participation in Devil's Circuit, an obstacle race that he managed to complete with a dislocated shoulder. Sharing a clipping from a news article, the actor wrote, “The @devilscircuit wasn’t just a race for me, it was a process of transformation.Every obstacle I faced, challenged and overcame was me facing, challenging and overcoming my past demons, mistakes and temptations that I had given into.Facing ones past mistakes and fears is always difficult but unless u don’t go for it head on u won’t go forward.And so I took the leap of faith in myself and went for it, injured myself terribly but I didn’t stop... coz I couldn’t.”

Kushal Punjabi (1977-2019): A pictorial tribute to the TV actor

He added, “What I would achieve mentally and emotionally by finishing this race would be far more than mere physical injuries. Once I crossed the finish line I was liberated.I didn’t care about my timing or what position I stood against the competitors because genuinely this was the new me against my old self.I was renewed refreshed and transformed & thats the path I have chosen to follow from now.The devil that was in me has certainly been slain.”