Dangal actor Suhani Bhatnagar’s family opens up about daughter’s battle with Dermatomyositis

The entertainment industry is mourning the loss of a bright young talent, Suhani Bhatnagar, who gained fame for her portrayal of young Babita Phogat in the critically acclaimed Indian sports drama ‘Dangal.’ Sadly, her life was cut short at the tender age of 19 after enduring a battle with the rare autoimmune disease dermatomyositis.

Two months before her tragic death, Suhani began experiencing worrying symptoms, starting with swelling in her hands that progressively affected her entire body. Her family sought help from numerous medical professionals, but her condition was left undiagnosed until the disease escalated, necessitating her admission to the All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

At AIIMS, doctors finally identified the illness that had been afflicting Suhani: dermatomyositis, which is known for causing skin rash and muscle weakness. Treatment commenced immediately with a course of steroids, which, despite their efficacy, severely compromised her immune system. This susceptibility led to a secondary infection that precipitated serious lung complications, accompanied by fluid buildup and severe difficulty in breathing.

In spite of being placed on a ventilator in an attempt to stabilize her condition, Suhani’s oxygen levels failed to improve. With profound sadness, her father publicly disclosed, “Even after putting her on a ventilator, her oxygen level was very low, and then yesterday evening at 7 pm, the AIIMS doctors said, ‘she is not more.'” These heart-wrenching words confirmed the fears of her loved ones and fans—Suhani Bhatnagar had passed away.

The news of her passing has cast a shadow over many, particularly her family, who not only cherished her for her cinematic contributions but also admired her scholastic commendations and aspirations. They spoke with immense pride of her academic prowess and her dreams of resuming her acting career once she graduated in journalism and mass communication.

Tributes began pouring in as the news spread through the Indian film community and beyond. Among the mourners were Suhani’s ‘Dangal’ family, including the Aamir Khan production house, her co-stars Zaira Wasim, director Nitesh Tiwari, and producer Kiran Rao.

The official statement from Aamir Khan’s Production house resonated with the grief felt by all: “We are deeply saddened to hear about our Suhani passing away. Our heartfelt condolences to her mother Poojaji, and the entire family. Such a talented young girl, such a team player, Dangal would have been incomplete without Suhani. Suhani, you will always remain a star in our hearts. May you rest in peace.”

Nitesh Tiwari, the director of ‘Dangal,’ joined in the collective mourning, reflecting on Suhani’s vibrant spirit: “Suhani’s passing away is absolutely shocking and heartbreaking. She was such a happy soul, so full of life. My deepest condolences to her family.”

‘Dangal,’ released in 2016, became a monumental success story in Indian cinema. It portrayed the inspiring true story of the Phogat family, focusing on Mahavir Singh Phogat’s determination to convert his daughters, Geeta and Babita, into world-class wrestlers against significant societal pressure. Aamir Khan played the role of the patriarch Mahavir with zeal, and the adult Phogat sisters were portrayed by actresses Fatima Sana Shaikh and Sanya Malhotra. Suhani, alongside Zaira Wasim, effectively brought to life the younger years of the Phogat sisters. The film’s message of female empowerment and relentless pursuit of dreams made it resonate deeply with viewers around the world.

The sad demise of Suhani Bhatnagar at such a young age leaves a void in the heart of Indian cinema and among the fans who watched her grow from a child actor into a promising young woman with a future full of potential. Her battle with dermatomyositis is a testament to her strength even in the face of life’s most formidable challenges, and her spirit will continue to be celebrated through the memories of her performances and the impact she had on those around her.

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