FUNERAL

The Final Journey - April 7th 1993



The most outstanding face of '92 is no more. The face that charmed millions with a string of releases, no longer lives in the land of mortals. 5th April was like any onter day of the year. But half and hour before the next day  chould chime-in the clock stopped ticking at 503, Tulsi-II Appartment at Seven bungalows, Versova. Divya bharti had fallen off her balcony on to the concrete compound of her building. Her fall turned out to be fatal. And final.



 Divya had been residing at the above address along with her husband Sajid Nadiadwala for the past one year. Apparently on that fateful day she was entertaining  her  dress designer  Neeta  Lulla  and  her  doctor husband Shyam Lulla.  It was around 11.30, Sajid had left to meet Punkej Kharbanda to discuss some dates regarding his film 'Andolan'. And her brother left for his place to have  dinner with  his  father,  when  tragedy struck. Divya who had already gulped  a few  drinks complained of being depressed. And during the course, of her conversation,  with   the Lullas she went into the kitchen, fixed  herself a glass of white rum and sauntered back in the hall. There she switched on her T. V. set and climbed over her balcony to sit on the parapet below, her favorite place where she would often sit, relax  and nurse her  drinks.  But  unfortunately on that fateful  day she slipped and succumbed to her destiny. Divya was rushed to R.N.  Cooper  hospital  by Mr.V. Menon, her director neighbour who lived on the second floor  and by Dr.  Shyam  Lulla. While Neela, along with  Divya's  maid went to  Divya's  house to inform her parents and brother. Every effort was made to save the beautiful actress but nothing worked. Divya was declared DEAD ON ARRIVAL!

I happened to be among the first few who received the news of the unfortunate happening. I rushed to the hospital  at once and though  the news had been confirmed,  I   kept disbelieving  it all the way. It was only when I saw only when i saw Divya's body that I realised  I   couldn't run away from reality anymore. The report that the hospital authorities provided me clearly stated the fact that the death was due to the mighty fall. Her reported injuries were a basal skull fracture, fracture of the left hip bone and fractured ribs.  From one thirty a.m. to eight in the  morning, I remained at the hospital.  And  quite unfortunately, I was an eye witness to all the unpleasant happenings that took place there, that night. i do not wish to sensationalize Divya's death nor do I intend hurting anyone's feelings. but being a well-wisher of Divya's and with the mere hope that maybe I might lend some clues that may help to solve this mysterious demise, I intend putting forward in front of you all the facts. All that i saw with my own eyes.



It was around 1.30 am, there were only a handful of people present in the hospital. probably nobody heard of the tragedy till then. Divya's mortal remains were placed on the trolley in the casualty ward. Her father, Mr. Bharti, was right next to her. He had taken the tragedy real bad. He was simply uncontrollable. "They have killed my daughter. Burn down everything. I don't want anything, just give me back Divya," he kept sobbing like a child. Divya's brother Kunal seemed equally shattered. Like a pillar of strength, he stood by his father, trying to console him. Later, when he just couldn't control his tears anymore he burst out, "I shouldn't have left my loving sister behind. I was with her till ten minutes before she could jump down. She was very depressed, she told me that. But I didn't know she would do such a thing. I don't want anything. I just want my sister back. She was just nineteen. Is that the age to die?" He kept repeating. He was then taken aside by his maid-servant.    

Almost an hour later Sajid dashed into the hospital. The doctors on duty guided  him to the lone trolley in the casualty ward. There lay his beautiful wife, dressed in  black  slacks  & a black  & white  polka-dotted top, looking so much at peace with herself. Her hair was still soaked in blood yet Divya looked so angelic, so divine. On seeing Divya motionless, it appeared like the world had come crashing down for Sajid.  He could not bear the shock. He literally froze for a moment and then fell on the ground with foam oozing out of his mouth. "At first we thought he too had consumed poison and that this  was some kind  of a suicide  pact  between the husband and wife," revealed a doctor on duty.  It was only  when they tried  to resuscitate him,  Sajid  started thumping violently. ll was then that the doctors realised it was a case of a heart attack.  Sajid was immediately shifted to the l,C.C.U.  (Intensive Cardiac Care Unit) of the  hospital.  Apparently,  he  too had been  suffering from hypertension and high  blood  pressure. When he regained consciousness for a while, he told the doctors, "My wife  Divya  is down there. They say she is dead.

Please do something and try bringing her back to life; When he saw a nurse preparing an injection for him, he told her, "Please don't give me an injection. I'm allergic to calmpose or aneasthesia of any kind."  Later he was administered some sedation and put to sleep.
Meanwhile  on  the ground  floor,  the situation  was same as before. Divya's father  was still hysterical. "By now, he was blaming his wife for Divya's action. Sajid's parents,  sister and  his friends had  also arrived.  They were obviously tensed about Sajid's condition.

The  first one  to  arrive  from the  film  industry  was Pahlaj Nihalani who came with his wife and sons. One of Divya's producers,  Raju Mawani also walked in with him.  It was  then  that Pahlaj took charge of the entire situation. The doctors had informed him that Mr. Bhar• ati had suffered a nervous break down and so it was he who got Divya's father admitted to the psychiatry ward of the hospital.

By now, people from the industry had started trickling in. The Morani brothers along with their wives, Joyti - Divya's secretary's wife, Boney Kapoor, Govinda, the producers of 'Kartavya' - Rahul Gupta and Sunil Saini, Sanjay Kapoor, Saif, and  Kamal Sadanah were among the first few to arrive.

Apparently, Divya's mother could not be traced till three in  the  morning. At around  three  forty-five a.m. she arrived at the hospital still  ignorant of the fact that she had lost her only daughter.  Kunal and Mr. Bharati did turn slightly violent when they saw her. Quite strangely, they both blamed her for what had happened. But Divya's mother did not say a word. She just went  towards the trolley, lifted the veil that covered Divya's face, placed her head on Divya's chest and after sometime, she walked out of the hospital. She returned later accompanied by Divya's uncle.

The police had also arrived and they were busy recording the statements from the two eye-witnesses, Neeta lulla and  her husband. Neeta's version  at the police station states,"I was not sure whether Divya had jumped down or whether  she had slipped accidently because  the sequence of events was in split second." At the time of filing in this article, the police had still  not recorded   Divya's  maid's  statement  for reasons  best known  to  them.  But the strangest version came  from Sajid's father who told the police that Divya and Sajid were not married. "In fact, they were supposed  to get' married after three months," he revealed. It was really surprising and  shocking  to note how  people  had still not matured after such a tragedy.

Later, at around six  in  the morning, the doctors declared  that a postmortem would have to be done on Divya since it was a case of an unnatural  death. Her body could be collected from the Coroner's Court after two, the same afternoon. It was then that the question of  the  funeral  arose.  Since  Divya  and  Sajid  had  not announced their marriage formally, everyone was in a dilemma. There  seemed   nobody   who  could  come ahead and take a decision. Then, all the elders and the well-wishers who had  assembled had a hush hush meeting. And after hearing  what  Sajid had told the doctors it was decided  that Divya would be buried, as per  the  Muslim  rites. But it was Sajid's  mother  who firmly objected  to  it. "I  know  nothing  about Sajid's marriage  to  Divya  so  how  can  I give  consent?"  So Pahlaj asked Divya's mother. Mrs. Bharati, on the other hand  was  beyond  any  differences.  "My daughter  is gone.  Now  what difference does it make whether you cremate her or bury her?" she argued. The green signal for the burial was given by Divya's mom. The message was  conveyed to Sajid's mother. That's when tears filled her eyes and she started crying I  went ahead  to console her.  I told  her that Sajid was recovering.  And she sternly replied, "I'm not crying for Sajid. I'm crying. for my Sana (Divya's name after marriage)." And finally it was decided that Divya would be buried.

But quite surprisingly later in the day,  Mrs. Bharati had  a  change  of  heart.  She  reponedly  told  Sajid's friends, 'So what if my daughter was married to Sajid? She had not changed her religion.  And if she had done so, I  would like to see the necessary documents.  If you cannot   provide  that,  Divya  will  be  cremated;  she stated.

Sajid's  friends  were  obviously  in  a  panic.  They rushed to Sajid who had recovered by now. They asked him for the documents.  But they were rudely shocked beyond  belief when Sajid reportedly denied even marrying Divya. So there was no question of any conversion. This act of Sajid's irritated his friends no end. They even offered to get the nikaahnaama in an hour's time. But Sajid stuck to his denial.

The funeral took place on the 7th of April. Divya had been  dressed like a bride with Sindoor in her maang since the ceremony was eventually performed according to the Hindu rites. Ironically a dazed Sajid executed Divva's last rites as her husband.And surprisingly, none of the senior Nadiadwalas were present. However, the pyre was lit by Divya's brother.

Besides the fickle - mindedness of Sajid, the Nadiawalas and Divya's mother, what I found most appaling was the way the industry reacted to Divya's death. They were all more worried about themselves.  Even before a day had passed, Juhi Chawla promptly went ahead  and bagged  Divya's role from 'Laadla',  Except for Nitin Manmohan  no other producer  cancelled the shootings  as a  mark of respect.  Also  except  Hema, Babita,  Karisma, Shilpa, Somy, Sangeata, Sabeeha; Kamal Sadanah, Amrish Puri, Varsha Usgaonkar, Tabu, and Sonu  none of Divya's co-stars turned up for the funeral.  They  were all busy shooting.  Everybody had reacted as if nothing had happened.  Not only that on the day after Divya's demise, Jeetendra had a  lavish party thrown at his place. Agreed life has to go on but is it too muth to expect a little bit of concern and respect for one of your own?

Anyway, for us and for all  of Divya's well wishers (we're  sure there're  millions  of them  out there),  her sudden demise has surely left a gap that'll take years to All. We will all miss her. May her soul rest in peace.

- Troy Ribeiro