Mumbai | Actor Sooraj Pancholi shook off the controversy clouding his life and career on Friday with a special CBI court acquitting him in the 2013 suicide case of his girlfriend Jiah Khan.
Pancholi, 32, the son of actors Aditya Pancholi and Zarina Wahab, hasn't really been able to make a dent after his promising debut as the lead in the remake of “Hero” opposite Athiya Shetty in 2015.
The film, which won him a Filmfare Award for best debut, was backed by Salman Khan and Subhash Ghai. It didn't do well and Pancholi's career has been moving in fits and starts since then.
He has since worked in the little known "Satellite Shankar" and "Time to Dance".
Pancholi, who has also worked as assistant director on films such as Sanjay Leela Bhansali's "Guzaarish" and Salman Khan-starrer "Ek Tha Tiger", hit the headlines when he was accused of abetting Jiah Khan's suicide.
He was charged on the basis of a six-page letter purportedly written by Khan, who was found hanging in her Juhu home on June 3, 2013 .
In an interview to PTI in 2015, Pancholi had said, “My name will always be associated with her and I have no guilt for that. I am happy that something at least stays with me. I am sad that she ended her life. But at least her name is with me and I have no problems with it." On Friday, Pancholi was there with his mother when the judge read out the verdict. Special CBI judge A S Sayyad called him to the witness box and asked his name. When the actor said Sooraj, the judge asked him to state his full name. The actor then replied, "Sooraj Aditya Pancholi." The judge then said, "Due to paucity of evidence, this court holds you (Sooraj) not guilty… acquitted." Pancholi nodded with his head down and stepped out of the witness box. He didn't speak to reporters.
In a statement later, Pancholi said not just the case, he had also won back his "dignity" and "confidence".
"The verdict has taken 10 long painful years and sleepless nights. But today I have not only won this case against me but I have also won my dignity and confidence back. It took a lot of courage to face the world with such heinous allegations. I hope and pray to God that nobody goes through what I have gone through at such a young age.
"I don't know who will give me these 10 years of my life back to me, but I am glad that this has finally come to an end not only for me but specially for my family. There is nothing bigger than peace in this world," the actor said in the statement.