Who doesn’t love an urban legend?
Our public knowledge is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to uncovering the Indian movie industry’s dark underbelly. Over the years, Bollywood has been rocked by several rumours it just can’t seem to shake off. But our question is: if they’re totally unfounded, why do they bother B-town buffs till this day
DIVYA BHARTI: AN UNSOLVED MYSTERY
Divya Bharti’s untimely death continues to intrigue those who come across her story. In 1990, Divya made her debut in the successful Telugu drama, Bobbili Raja (1990). In 1992, she progressed into Hindi films, and in the same year married prominent filmmaker Sajid Nadiadwala. Things were looking up for the vivacious 19-year old actress until 5th April, 1993, when she plunged to her death from her fifth-storey Mumbai apartment. Police ruled the tragedy an accident but many have speculated that foul play was involved.
According to designer Neeta Lulla, who visited Divya’s apartment that night with her husband Dr. Shyam Lulla, Divya had downed a few glasses of rum and was in high spirits when she decided to move to the balcony. While the Lullas continued to watch TV in the next room and Divya’s maid, Amrita, prepared some snacks in the kitchen, Divya slipped and fell to her death. Decades later her demise still remains a mystery.
Some believe that Sajid Nadiadwala murdered Divya. One of her ‘friends’ who lived in the same apartment reported that the couple had been arguing that evening and Divya, who was already intoxicated, took sleeping pills to cope. Worried, Sajid called Dr. Shyam (rumoured to be Divya’s psychiatrist) to help deescalate the situation but tragedy struck soon after. The couple were apparently fighting because Divya disapproved of Sajid’s ties with the underworld. Some rumours even suggest that the filmmaker was complicit in the ’93 Bombay Bombings and killed Divya to silence her.
ART IMITATING LIFE
It’s rumoured that Om Shanti Om (2007) is based on Divya’s death. Om Prakash (SRK) falls in love with movie star, Shanti (Deepika Padukone), who is secretly married to producer Mukesh Mehra (Arjun Rampal). Mukesh hires her for a potential blockbuster, promising that once the fi lm was out they would go public with their marriage. However, after Shanti reveals she is pregnant, Mukesh traps her inside a fi lm set and sets it alight to protect his secrets.
While trying to save Shanti, Om is killed and reborn as mega-star Om Kapoor, who hatches a plan to trick Mukesh into admitting he murdered Shanti by hiring an actress named Sandhya to pretend to be Shanti’s ghost. There are several parallels the movie has with Divya’s story:
1. Her full name is Divya Om Prakash Bharti
2. Her marriage to Sajid was revealed after her death
3. The ceremony was conducted in front of very few people,
including her hairdresser Sandhya
4. SRK and Divya starred in Deewana (1992) with Rishi Kapoor. In Om Shanti Om, Om is reborn as Rishi Kapoor’s son
KANGANA RANAUT: THE TEENAGE WITCH
After Kangana Ranaut’s public spat with Hrithik Roshan in 2016, her ex-boyfriend Adhyayan Suman revealed some shocking allegations. The duo starting dating while shooting for Raaz: The Mystery Continues (2009) and things quickly went downhill. In an explosive interview, Adhyayan claimed that Kangana:
Would often lock him outside her apartment and force him to grovel and apologise for hours
• Forced him to shave his head for the Filmfare Awards, only to tell him it looked hideous and he should walk behind her
on the red carpet
• Forced him to call journalists to let them know how devoted he was to her
• When he was gifted a BMW 7 Series for his birthday, she bought herself the same car to mock him
• Was a drug-user that often got physically abusive, slapping him, and throwing her belongings at him (including stilettos)
• Often cussed at his elder family members
He said, “Kangana had this amazing knack [for] manipulating my emotions. She took me to a tarot card reader who said we were meant to be together, [so] I stopped going home and started living with her. I started drinking and smoking a lot. My relationship with my parents changed.” Things took a turn for the weird after Kangana’s astrologer told Adhyayan that his energy wasn’t right and he needed to perform certain pujas to fix it. They arranged to do prayers at midnight, but when he arrived, the apartment was full of occult offerings and he was locked inside a room until he finished all the mantras she instructed him to do. He claims this wasn’t the only ‘dark puja’ he was forced to participate in.
Soon after, Adhyayan’s family astrologer told him that she sensed a woman was performing black magic on him. Worried about their son, his parents sought the help of a pundit who suspected Kangana was poisoning Adhyayan’s food with her ‘impure blood’ to keep him transfixed. The same pundit later appeared on Dus Ka Dum, where he called Kangana a ‘demoness’ live on television.
The pair broke up after a year. Adhyayan claims, “I told her never to call or message me again and made sure not to cross paths with her. I took off to New York [where] I passed my time crying and eating. It took me fi ve years to get over the whole thing.” After Adhyayan went public, Kangana came forward to say, “The Black Magic Witch [is] the ultimate witch. I like it though, I didn’t like the way it was said but I liked the mystery of it.”
MAMTA KULKARNI: DIVA AND DRUG SMUGGLER
In the early ‘90s, Mamta Kulkarni was one of Bollywood’s most promising talents. After her debut in Aashik Aawara (1993) with Saif Ali Khan, she acted in a string of successful films…until one day in 2002, when she simply vanished. For over a decade, nobody had a clue where the Bollywood beauty had gone, but many speculated that her turbulent relationship with notorious drug smuggler, Vicky Goswami, had something to do with it. The truth would not surface until later.
It is believed that after fleeing India, she and Vicky were arrested in Saudi Arabia for narcotics possession. However, by getting married and converting to Islam, the duo escaped punishment. The couple then moved to Dubai, where unbeknownst to them, the police were already familiar with Vicky’s criminal background and soon jailed him. He was then released early because of good conduct and the couple moved to South Africa and then Kenya.
In 2016, Mumbai Police seized 2,000 crores worth of drugs from a factory in Solapur with evidence suggesting the operation was run by Vicky, with Mamta believed to be a conspirator. They have since issued a non-bailable warrant for her arrest if she ever returns to India. Throughout the controversy, Mamta has maintained her innocence, telling those close to her that she was used as a scapegoat. However, because she often changes her name, it makes it difficult to identify her and even more challenging to unearth the truth about her complicated past.