The Strange Tale of Hindi Film Actor Raj Kiran – Lost and Found

Remember that hauntingly beautiful melody Tum itna jo muskura rahi ho and the shy faced, sensitive actor in Mahesh Bhatt’s acclaimed film Arth, as he cuts a small pastry to celebrate the birthday of Shabana Azmi’s character in the film? That man is Bollywood actor Raj Kiran, who at the time showed great promise with his histrionic ability, and who then seemed to fall off the face of the earth.

For 10 years, no one knew where Raj Kiran was but now with the efforts of his co-stars from the past, such as Rishi Kapoor and Deepti Naval, he has been located – at a psychiatric facility in Atalanta in the United States. This has led to the splashing of news headlines all over the news channels “Hero Pagalkhaane Mein” screamed Aaj Tak, “Actor Raj Kiran found in mental asylum in US” says a CNN IBN news headline. In turn NDTV’s reportage of the mysterious actor was Raj Kiran – Languishing in an Asylum

Raj Kiran’s Filmography

Raj Kiran Mehtani is probably best known for his portrayal of Raj in the film Arth where he plays the role of the man with unrequited love for Pooja (Shabana Azmi), and his portrayal of Ravi Verma in the cult Bollywood film Karz – the role of the man who is killed by Simi Grewal’s character and who is reincarnated as Monty Oberio (Rishi Kapoor). In Karz, clever use was made of the resemblance that Raj Kiran and Rishi Kapoor had to each other, to create the saga of reincarnation.

Additionally Raj Kiran had acted in films such as Shikshaa (his first film), Yeh Kaisa Insaaf, Patita, the commercial success Ghar ek Mandir, the critically acclaimed Hip Hip Hurray, Ilzaam, Teri Meherbaniyan and many others. He has done character roles in over a hundred films and was an acknowledged talent in Bollywood.

The Mystery surrounding Raj Kiran

After his stint in Bollywood that lasted about a decade (from 1970 to about 1980) movie audiences saw and heard little of him. After he disappeared from the film firmament, he was reportedly deserted by his family and became mentally unstable and for a decade or so was presumed dead.

His family consists of wife Kathija Nachiyar and son named Tipu Sultan and brothers called Govind Mehtani and Ajit Mehtani. Kiran’s family supposedly deserted him because of his mood swings and this was the breaking point for him.

Some years ago actress Shabana Azmi had met him in a mental asylum in Mumbai when he seemed confused but then showed some signs of lucidity. She now has hopes of her colleague’s recovery.

Efforts by co-stars to locate Raj

Deepti Naval posted a message on her Facebook page, “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.”

Similarly Rishi Kapoor, his Karz co-star, who remembered Raj as a clever and well read person whom he got along really well with, wondered where the actor had disappeared to and was disturbed about his colleague’s whereabouts. “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,” Kapoor was quoted as having said.

Raj Kiran is now staying and working at the institution in Atlanta, where he pays for his treatment by working there as well, it has been found.

Rishi Kapoor would now like to bring Raj Kiran “back where he belongs”, presuming that once a fine actor always a fine actor should be able to recreate a place for himself in the film industry. He has issued a personal assurance that he would help the former actor reestablish himself in the industry.

Parveen Babi’s Schizophrenia

Mahesh Bhatt recalls the similar case of Parveen Babi when she had a mental breakdown and then died tragically. Parveen Babi had demonstrated symptoms of schizophrenia and had even filed petitions in Mumbai courts naming Bill Clinton and Amitabh Bachchan as accused who were supposedly trying to kill her.

These are sad tales of individuals unable to handle the pressures of the arc lights or perhaps just the personal pressures of life; whose misfortunes are bandied about in the press simply because they are or were at some point in the public arena.

Though Parveen Babi is beyond help, one can but wish that there is hope for the really fine actor that was Raj Kiran – one wonders if that smiling visage will once again grace the silver screen.

Here is the song from Arth that Raj Kiran is perhaps best known for.


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