Kushal Punjabi – Popular Hindi Actor & Winner of Zor Ka Jhatka: Total Wipeout 2011
Kushal Punjabi (1977 – 2019) was a popular actor associated with Hindi television soaps. He also played supporting roles in Bollywood. Winner of the reality show, Zor Ka Jhatka: Total Wipeout in 2011, he has been a part of several TV shows, and remained immensely popular on small screen. He was seen in Bollywood movies – Kaal, Crazy Cukkad Family, Andaaz, Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal, Salaam-e-Ishq, A Gentleman, Ssshhhh…Phir Koi Hai etc before he fully moved to small screen. He was a part of several reality shows, and had been a professional modern jazz and hip hop dancer. He has been a model, who was featured in many TV ads. Aasman Se Aage, Dekho Magar Pyaar Se, Hum Tum, and his last, Ishq Mein Marjawan were his popular shows.
An adventurous and hyper active kid during his childhood days
Kushal Punjabi belonged to a Sindhi family in Mumbai and was born in 1977. His father is from Karachi and his mother is from Hyderabad. He grew up in Mumbai. He loved travelling and adventurous sports and also loved to remain outdoors; one of the reasons why he successfully contested several reality shows on television later. He loved theatre, music and dance too.
He started his career as a dancer and model
He started his modelling career in the mid-1990s and participated in Gladrags Manhunt Contest, in 2000. He appeared in Shweta Shetty’s musical album, Deewane To Deewane Hai (1997) as a model. A Mouthful Of Sky in 1995 aired on DD Metro marked his acting debut on small screen. Since then he appeared in more than 20 TV serials.
The following year he marked his big screen debut through Bomgay, and took a small break from small screen. Humko Ishq ne Maara and Bombay Boys are his movies released in the late 1990s, which went unnoticed. After that he returned to small screen through Love Marriage in 2002. For the next few years he kept momentum between small and big screen, and slowly turned more busy with reality shows on television apart from acting roles.
Fear Factor (2005) was his first reality show appearance
He has been a part of reality shows – Fear Factor, Paisa Bhari Padega, Fun on the Run, Ek Se Badhkar Ek, Mr. & Ms. TV, Sitaron Ki Jung, Zor ka Jhatka, Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa 7 etc. He has been a part of TV shows such as Ssshhhh…Phir Koi Hai, CID, Kasamh Se, Raja Ki Aayegi Baraat, Aasman Se Aage, Gutur Gu, Aasman Se Aage, Welcome – Baazi Mehmaan-Nawaazi Ki, Love Bytes, Hum Ne Li Hai- Shapath, Adaalat, Ishq Mein Marjawan, Sajan Re Phir Jhooth Mat Bolo, Kya Haal, Mr. Paanchal etc.
He hang himself in late 2019 shocking television fraternity
He was fully active in his career till he committed suicide on 26 December 2019, aged only 42. The actor was suffering from depression. He was found hanging at his Pali Hill, Bandra residence by his friends.
He was going through separation of his wife, as stated by his friend Chetan Hasraj in an interview. Later his wife Audrey Dolhen also claimed that he failed their relationship and that she was looking after his expenses too. Her refusal to shift to Mumbai, demanding huge alimony for divorced and taking away their 3-year old son were reported to be the reasons to take this extreme step by Kushal. Later joint families released a statement that the actor was both financially and emotionally stable.
Kushal Punjabi – Some interesting and less-known facts
1. He was an extra active kid during his childhood and learnt cycling, skating, swimming and dancing at a very young age. He also played football during school academic years.
2. He was a part of India’s first gay film, Bomgay, released in 1996. It was an anthology movie directed by Riyad Vinci Wadia.
3. Also a contemporary dancer by profession, he choreographed several fashion events including Gladrags Manhunt Megamodel, Mrs. India, ‘Star Walk’ Fashion event for NGO UMEED etc.
4. He has appeared in around 15 music videos as a model, and has also choreographed a few.
5. Shweta Shetty’s musical album, Deewane To Deewane Hai (1997) was one of his early noted appearances as a model.
6. He was associated with Shiamak Davar’s dance group for a while, and has worked as a dancer and trainer. Interestingly Sushant Singh Rajput was also associated with the same troupe.
7. He participated in 7 prominent reality shows, and won 5 of them – Zor Ka Jhatka, Fear Factor, Ek Se badkar Ek, Nautica Navigators Challenge, and Paisa Bhari Padega.
8. A Gentleman in 2017 was his last theatre release.
9. It’s said that he helped Bigg Boss 13 contestant Dalljiet Kaur to overcome depression after her failed marriage. He used to advise her, how a broken relationship or marriage cannot be the reason to end a glorious thing called life. But later he slipped into depression and committed suicide for the same reason.