Today we zero in on the topic whether Divya Bharti’s death was an accident, suicide or an act of murder.
Conspiracy theories continue to float around her death even after two decades. So was she really pushed out of her balcony?
According to the official documents associated with the case, three people were with her at the time of the incident. They were her dress designer Neeta Lulla, her husband Dr Shyam (a psychiatrist) and her maid Amrita.
Official records also state that her maid was very attached to her because she had been taking care of Divya since her birth. Amrita went into acute depression after the incident and stopped interacting with people. Police records state that Amrita suffered a massive heart attack soon after and succumbed to it. Amrita died within 30 days of Divya Bharti’s demise. This is the reason why Amrita could not be grilled by the police.
Other than them, there were three others who were grilled by the police – her husband Sajid Nadiadwala, her mother Bharti and her brother Kunal. All the three were not with her at the time of the incident.
The government officials who took part in the investigations included Inspector J G Jadhav of Versova Police station (the investigating officer of the case) and the Chief Medical Officer of Cooper Hospital Dr Tripathy (who signed the death certificate). Other than these people, nobody exactly had any first-hand knowledge of what might have happened to Divya Bharti that night.
We did manage to get some first-hand information about what happened on that fateful night but people spoke to us on conditions of anonymity. Based on the conversations, we will try to recreate the chain of incidents that ultimately snatched Divya Bharti away from all of us.
That dark night
Date: April 5, 1993, Time 11.00 pm, Place: 5th floor, Tulsi Apartments, Versova, Andheri West, Mumbai
Just a few hours back, Divya had gone to Neptune Apartments in Bandra West with a broker and finalised a large flat that she wanted to buy. Considering how hard it was to get a good flat in Mumbai, Divya was very happy that day and was constantly describing her ‘nice four-bedroom apartment’ to her brother Kunal, whom she loved dearly. Kunal left for some work soon after.
She had just returned from Chennai after a shoot and on the same night, Divya was supposed to fly out to Hyderabad for another shoot. She wanted to postpone her Hyderabad visit as she had to finalise the apartment. That day, Divya was roaming around with a bandage on her left foot and had informed her producers that she was injured (and hence she won’t be able to report for the shoot). She told everybody she will go to Hyderabad a day later.
She soon got a phone call, which informed her that she needed to meet Neeta Lulla and her husband who were coming down to see her at the Versova flat. It might be pertinent to mention here that this flat didn’t belong to Divya and was registered in somebody else’s name.
Divya was also supposed to go on a long outdoor schedule to Mauritius to shoot for Sajid’s film Andolan. Neeta was supposed to make the costumes for the film and after the schedule, Vidya was supposed to move into her new apartment. So, everything was going just as planned and naturally, Divya was very excited that night.
Neeta and Sunil arrived around 10 pm and all of them sat down in the living room, chatting. The TV was on and Divya had two alcohol bottles on the centre table — one was a Mauritian sugarcane wine and the other was a bottle of Black Label whisky. The whisky bottle had been opened, while the rum bottle was intact.
Her maid Amrita was in the living room and Divya was chatting with her. Amrita soon went into the kitchen to fry munchies to go with the alcohol. She was talking to Divya all the while. Divya then gravitated towards the window while still talking to her maid loudly who was in the kitchen now.
Neeta and her husband were watching ‘something interesting’ on the video player (those days there used to be VHS cassettes to play videos) and hence, were not taking much part in the conversation that was going on between Divya and Amrita.
The final moments
There was no balcony in the living room and it had an open window. Though all other windows in the building had grills, that window was open. There is a car parking slot just below the window but that day there were no cars parked below.
When nobody was looking Divya climbed out of the window and landed on the narrow ledge below it. The ledge was less than 12 inches wide and it was impossible to keep your balance unless you hold on to the window frame.
She landed on the ledge with her back towards the living room. She then tried to turn around to hold the window frame. It was while she tried turning around on the ledge (and extended her hand to hold the window frame) that she slipped.
Divya fell with a loud thud on the concrete below the window. Because she was facing her room (as she was trying climb back up), she landed on her back. The accident occurred in a matter of three minutes.
Everybody heard the thud and came running downstairs to find her in a pool of blood. She was alive on her way to the hospital, but her pulse rate started falling rapidly soon afterwards.
She died at the emergency department of Cooper Hospital. The immediate cause of death was heavy internal bleeding due to the injury at the back of her head. Her skull had several fractures.
Now, the unanswered question in front of the police was: How come she was allowed to get down on the ledge below the window? Interestingly, many of her close friends were not surprised on learning that she had climbed out of the window.
Her close friends later had told the police that Divya Bharti loved doing these stunts. The idea of cheating death gave her a strange kick. There were numerous stories of her trying dangerous stunts at outdoor shooting schedules. She somehow loved the idea of flirting with death.
She was a 19-year-old girl and was going the same problems that a girl of her age would perhaps go through. That included boyfriend problems and the usual rebellious attitude against her parents. But this is for sure that she was not going through any emotional stress that prompted her to end her life.
You can draw your own conclusions now.
So yes, I am debunking all the conspiracy theories and saying that it was just an unfortunate accident.
Before we go, here’s another interview of her parents years after her death where they spoke about her with great difficulty. I found the interview touching.
THE MYTHS ABOUT DIVYA BHARTI
We have received 18 mails requesting us to write about the tragic death of Divya Bharti. We kept on postponing it because it is difficult to get first-hand information about her. Also, there are too many websites talking about her untimely death and speculating whether it was a suicide or murder.
We thought we should first bust a few myths before talking about her tragic death. It took us a few days of research, but here they are.
First, let us introduce Divya Bharti. Divya is regarded as one of the most prolific actresses during the 1990s. She achieved dizzying heights of success before her life was brutally cut short by a bizarre incident.
When she was just 19, she died after falling off from the balcony of her fifth floor apartment in Versova, Andheri. Till now, many in Bollywood speculate that she was thrown off her balcony.
Myth 1: Divya Bharti made her debut opposite Sunny Deol
Reality: Divya Bharati dropped out of school when she was in class nine to do a Bollywood film but she couldn’t manage to get a break. A lot of Bollywood producers begged with her parents to let her act in their films but they either signed some other actress or the project was eventually dropped. She had to go down south to get her first break where she got a chance to act opposite Telugu superstar Venkatesh in the film Bobbili Raja. The film was produced by D Ramanaidu, Venkatesh’s father. The film was a superhit. Though she started her career in 1988, she couldn’t manage to act in a Bollywood film till 1992. But by that time she was a huge star in Hyderabad.
Here is the video of a song from her debut movie Bobbili Vijay. The video is a bit crude and some parts might look distasteful. Kindly ignore the flaws for the sake of watching Divya Bharti’s debut film song.
Myth 2: Divya started her career with a big hit in Bollywood
Reality: Divya Bharti couldn’t to score a hit during her initial days in Bollywood. Her debut film Vishwatma was an average grosser. The next film also flopped miserably but she managed to catch everybody’s attention, specially that of the media. Even in the face of such big failures, Divya remained optimistic about becoming a successful Bollywood actress. Her first success came opposite Govinda in the film Shola Aur Shabnam.
Here is a very rare interview of Divya Bharti where you will get an inkling about the feisty woman that she was. Apologies, as the video is edited poorly.
Myth 3: The last few unfinished films were canned
Reality: Some of the films that Divya Bharti had signed but couldn’t finish became huge hits. Other actresses were cast in her role and the same films got a rousing reception at the box office such as Mohra (Raveena Tandon-Akshay Kumar) and Vijaypath (Tabu-Ajay Devgn).
Here is a leaked video of a few scenes of Laadlaa that Divya Bharti had shot just months before her death. Later, the same scenes were re-shot by Sridevi. In this video you see Divya and Sridevi in the same scenes, one after another. I am sure a majority of you have never seen this footage before.
Myth 4: Divya Bharti was alone in her apartment when she died
Reality: On the day of her death, she had cancelled her trip to Hyderabad because she had wanted to stay back in Mumbai. She was happy because she had bought a flat for her parents in Bandra West. During the final hours of her death, she was with her closest friend — fashion designer Neeta Lulla. Also present in the same room were Neeta’s husband, Dr Shyam Lulla and her maid for many years, Amrita. All these names were put down as eye-witnesses in the case which was initially registered as ‘unnatural death’ with the Andheri police station. The case has now been closed because the police couldn’t complete their investigation.
Here are some chilling pictures of Divya Bharti after the accident. The pictures are graphic so don’t go through the album if you don’t want to.
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Myth 5: Divya Bharti was on drugs because she was terribly depressed
Reality: Divya Bharti was cheerful by nature. Nobody saw her getting depressed ever. There is not a single testimony that she was depressed before she died. Here is a rare video of her parents and friends clearing the air to the media on whether she was depressed or on drugs.