On Monday morning singing legend Asha Bhosle who was in Singapore to attend a Marathi awards function, received a call in her hotel room from her driver in Mumbai informing her that her daughter Varsha Bhosle had hurt herself.
Ashaji immediately rang up a family friend requesting him to rush to the Bhosle-Mangeshkar residence Prabhu Kunj on Peddar Road.
This was not the first time that Varsha had hurt herself with the purpose of causing herself grievous injury. Sources close to the family say Varsha had attempted suicide twice before.
This time Varsha meant business. A gun was used to do the needful in a foolproof way. Just where the gun came from, no one knows.
Says the family friend, “The entire apartment where the tragedy has occurred has been cordoned off. We are not allowed inside. Nor are we allowed to speak to the media.”
Family members and close friends sat in the adjacent apartment, which happens to be the most famous address on Peddar Road, that of Ashaji’s sister Lata Mangeshkar.
According to family members Lataji is shattered by the tragedy that had befallen the family.
Says the family friend, “Lataji has taken it very badly. For something of this nature to happen in their family, is unimaginable. Lataji’s main concern is, how will Asha react when she lands from Singapore in Mumbai at around midnight on Monday-Tuesday night? For the two sisters, to go through this at the age of 84 and 80, is heart-wrenching. The cops are in and out of Prabhu Kunj questioning the entire family.”
Though Asha Bhosle lived with her son in another part of Mumbai, she was constantly in and out of Prabhu Kunj. Family-friends describe her as “a caring mother… a bit bewildered by her daughter’s moodiness but unfaltering in her patient handling of her daughter’s volatile moods.”
Says the family friend, “All of us kept our distance from Varsha. We were never sure how she would react to even the simplest of situations. Only Ashaji knew how to cope with Varsha’s moods.”
At 80, the legendary Asha Bhosle doesn’t deserve the unbearable pain and shock of losing her child. Life has dealt her another blow. Ashaji was in Singapore on the night before the tragedy, down with a viral fever. She travelled back to Mumbai in the morning with much more to worry about than a mere fever.
But then as Ashaji confided in me a few days before this terrible tragedy, “Bahot saare dhakke khayen hai. Ab aadat si ho gayi hai (I’ve faced innumerable setbacks. I am used to them).”
A source close to the family says, “Varsha was very troubled in her later years. None of us knows what troubled her. We all tried to understand her problems. Was it just the burden of being the great Asha Bhosle’s daughter? But why punish her mother and the family for a circumstance created by fate? None of the second-generation Mangeshkar children have made it big as singers and musicians. But Varsha took it to heart.”
Like her illustrious mother Varsha Bhosle initially wanted to be a singer. As a child she sang professionally for Dev Anand’s Loot Maar. The song composed by Rajesh Roshan had these optimistic words for Varsha to sing: Hans to hardam khushiyan ya gham. Alas, Varsha couldn’t follow this rule of living in her adult life.
I had once asked Varsha why she gave up singing. She replied, “If you can’t take the heat of the chulha then it’s best not to enter the kitchen to cook.”
And she laughed heartily.
That laughter became increasingly rare in later years. As she grew older Varsha became progressively troubled embittered and withdrawn.
The divorce from her husband sportwriter and PR executive Hemant Kenkre, further estranged Barkha from those around her.
“No one was allowed to get close to her. She drove everyone away,” says a source from the family.
The pressure of being an iconic celebrity’s daughter became unbearable after a point. Not that Varsha ever resented her mother’s legendary status. The daughter was forever proud of her mother and fiercely protective. In fact my first meeting with Ashaji was arranged by Varsha. Any hint of a negative write-up on Ashaji, and Varsha would be on the phone.