Career Early Struggle 1988
Divya was in the ninth grade when she began to get film offers. Her face resembled those days' superstar Sridevi and so got noticed by many directors and producers. At first her parents were hesitant, till Nandu Tolani offered h er Gunahon Ka Devta around mid 1988. Divya was 14 and a 1/2 at that time.
Meanwhile, Divya learned via a friend that Dilip Shankar wanted a new girl opposite Aamir Khan in Aatank Hi Aatank and Rudra Avtaar. With her parents permission, she signed up both films. During those times, Kirti Kumar, Govinda's brother noticed the charming Divya at a video library. He followed her to her residence and then called up director Nandu Tolani, who lived in the building next to hers and asked about Divya.
Radha Ka Sangam Episode
The next thing the Bhartis knew was that Kirti Kumar was eager to sign up Divya for Radha Ka Sangam opposite Govinda. Kirti went personally to meet Dilip Shankar and managed to release Divya from their contract. Kirti quoted in March 1989 in Showtime Magazine "I told Dalip that he could take any girl, but he'd never be able to find another Radha". Kirti changed her name from Divya to Radha. Producer Kirti launched her with much fanfare. He gave interviews on how he found his perfect Radha after scouring the whole of India for her. And then before the first shot was taken, Divya "Radha" Bharti was out of the film after being groomed for two years and replaced by Juhi Chawla. The reasons each side gave for the fall-out were different. Various Magazines wrote different things behind the dropout. Some said "Kirti became over-possessive about her", others said "Lawrence D'Souza, who was to direct the film, left the project. Then Kirti decided to take over the film. Being new to direction, he had to drop Divya because he felt he could not handle a newcomer", other magazines wrote that Divya was having an affair with Govinda and the smitten, jealous, Kirti could not tolerate that. Others wrote it was Divya's immaturity that made her drop out of the film.
And that was the green signal for other film makers to enter the fray. She was screen-tested by big names Boney Kapoor, Shabnam Kapoor, Shekhar Kapoor and Subhash Ghai. They all raved about her but no one signed her up. There were rumors that her childish reputation had preceded her. In magazines, she had earned a name for being wild and crazy. In fact, for his big budget film Prem, Boney Kapoor signed up Divya. Eight days later, Divya was out and Tabu was signed in. Later Subhash Ghai too called her for Saudagar opposite Aamir Khan and 20 days later she was out and he signed up Manisha Koirala and Vivek Mushran. By then, the rejections had affected fifteen year old Divya. Since she was already out of school, they would not accept her back. As a result, she was forced to sit idle. Fortunately, One of the biggest producers of Telugu cinema, D. Ramanaidu landed up at Divya's doorstep. He offered Divya , Bobbili Raja, a Telugu film opposite Daggubati Venkatesh. Immediately, Divya got a Tamil Film and Rajiv Rai approached her for Vishwatma.
Rise to Stardom in Telugu Cinema 1990 - 1992
After being dropped out of so many Big Projects, Divya got depressed and left Mumbai. On the evening of her return, the producer of Bobbili Raja approached her for his upcoming project. They wanted Divya to fly down the same night. As Divya quoted in the Nov 1991 "Movie" magazine, "I didn't want to go. I said no but mummy said yes. Imagine, the film became a super-hit and I became a superstar". The move paid off. Bobbili Raja released in the summer of 1990 became a colossal hit. She had captured the south by storm, and she was a goddess there. Even a temple had been built in her name. With more hits, she became a big name in Telugu cinema. In box-office rating, she figured next only to the indomitable Vijayshanti. Her price, according to an insider, had touched a whopping 25 Lakhs per film and 1 lakh per each additional day (If shooting postponed south producers were paying 15 lakhs for 15 days) , which was a big amount in 1991. In Bollywood, only Madhuri Dixit and Sridevi were getting those kinds of price. In 1991 Divya gave back-to-back hits including Rowdy Alludu, and Assembly Rowdy opposite superstars of Telugu cinema including Chiranjeevi, Mohan Babu. In north India, she was known as the Sridevi of Telugu films. But, that was not what Divya was looking for. She wanted to make it big in Bombay. And she was back with fresh determination. Meanwhile, She did not want to disappoint her Telugu audience and she cut down to do one movie per year.
Rise to Stardom in Bollywood 1992 - 1993
When Divya heard that Rajiv Rai was on the lookout for a new face for his film Vishwatma opposite Sunny Deol, she daringly walked into Rajiv Rai's office with her portfolio. And the same day signed the film. Rajiv was making the sequel to his Blockbuster film Tridev.
The film was produced by Trimurti Films Pvt. Ltd. is one of the biggest and oldest film production. Vishwatma was launched in the late 1990 with grand mahurat. Film actor Dharmendra gave the mahurat shot. Soon Divya was left for long outdoor shooting in Nairobi. By the time Divya came back, film offers started pouring up in Divya's lap. Without single release so far, Divya signed 14 films.
2 January 1992 was a big day for Divya. She had many reasons for wanting the film to be successful. Vishwatma did do well however the film's success did not come close to that of Tridev and the film was declared an average grosser. Notably, the film's most popular song "Saat Samundar Paar", which was picturized with Divya, became a hit and even to this day, the audience remembers Divya in that song.
Seven days later, Divya's musical bonanzas Dil Ka Kya Kasoor released. It was supposed to establish her as popular heroine but opened to empty theaters. No one expected film to bomb so badly. Although, the film failed to impress an audience, Filmfare magazines started including Diyva in the list of 1992 top ten best actress performances. Surprisingly, even when other now-well known newcomers was introducing to showbiz), Divya collapsed debut made a magazine headline, when many actress included Madhoo in Phool Aur Kaante and Chandni in Sanam Bewafa super hit films did not made them star, Divya's flops made her star. Divya defended herself by quoted, " I wanted to prove myself. But, I've fallen flat on my face. Now, I have to begun my climb all over again. Yet, I'm positive that one day success will be mine", (Stardust, March 1992).
And, Thus Divya too was deleted from the ranks of the promising newcomers for a while. Then Pehlaj Nihlani's Shola Aur Shabnam came along. The film proved a box office hit and Divya was riding high again. Not only did it present Divya in a noble character, but also gave big boost to Govinda's career and launched David Dhawan as an established director.
Four Months later, Raj Kanwar's love story Deewana became the biggest hit of 1992, where she held her own against veteran Rishi Kapoor and the debutant Shahrukh Khan, who later went on to become a Bollywood superstar and an icon of Indian Cinema. With the super success of Deewana, Divya got rid of her promising newcomer status and entered the A-list. Her performance in Deewana was highly appreciated. Around that time, Divya's other films Balwaan with another debutant Sunil Shetty and Jaan Se Pyaara with Govinda released and did well at the box office. By the end of the year, Hema Malini's Dil Aashna Hai released, in which Divya played a bar dancer, who searches for her birth mother. Although the film was a box-office failure, her performance in the film was much appreciated by critics.
Suddenly, with big hits under her belt, Divya had become the hottest property in showbiz. And many predicted that she was poised to hit the number one slot not very far. In fact, In September,'Movie' magazines such as "Movie", "Stardust" and "Filmfare" put her at the 3rd position actress by the bases of price, popularity and position right after Madhuri Dixit and Sridevi.
Barely 16, Divya met Sajid Nadiadwala in 1990 at Film City, when Sajid dropped by the sets to meet his friend Govinda. Divya was shooting with Govinda Ahuja on the sets of Shola Aur Shabnam. It was Govinda who introduced Sajid to Divya. Soon, it became a routine for the unit to see Sajid on sets everyday.
As Sajid quotes in Movie June 1993 issue "Somewhere around 15 January 1992 Divya told me that she wanted to get married. The very next day she was tense because her name was being linked with all heroes. She wanted to marry and put an end to all these controversies. People expect me to have a relationship with everyone, she would complain.
Then on 20 May 1992. Divya got married to Sajid in the presence of her hairdresser Sandhya, the hairdresser's husband and a kazi at Tulsi apartments, Sajid's Versova residence. She converted to Islam and took on a new name "Sana". As Sajid quotes "We kept the marriage a secret because her career was at stake. Her producers would have panicked. In retrospect, I wish we had told the truth. Divya wanted to announce that we were married but I kept telling her to wait for a while. I wish I hadn't. Every time she saw the rushes of her films, she would sigh, "This will flop and people will ask me to quit". But that never happened, her films were hits. By the end of 1993, she would have completed all her assignments.
Around midnight 5 April 1993, Divya fell to her death off her husband's 5-storey Versova apartment building, Tulsi 2 in Mumbai. There were numerous speculations by the media regarding Divya's sudden demise, including the possibility of accidental death, suicide and even murder. Divya's dress designer Neeta Lulla is believed to have been present at the apartment at the time of death but the unfortunate event could not be avoided. Police closed the investigation into her death in 1998, but the circumstances of her death still remain a mystery. Curious is the silence which enveloped the people close to her when she died. There were strange about-turns in the statements they gave to the police, and there were several sinister lapses in the investigation and inquiry. Neeta Lulla stated in her first police statement that when Divya returned home , she was accompanied by her brother Kunal and father O.P. Bharati, then she changed her statement. Perhaps Mr Bharati saw something and might have blurted it out under the tough police questioning. Sajid himself was under a cloud. Not only did the newspapers make much of his underworld connections, a fact he hotly denied. but he too blundered through his police statement. He had claimed that he was out when Divya jumped/fell/was flung to death, five floors down. Where had he gone? He first mentioned the name of Pankaj Kharbanda and later changed his statement and said that he had gone to meet Kulbhushan Gupta , a producer friend from whom he had bought the flat he and Divya occupied. More suspicious was her climbing up the balcony and standing on the parapet without anyone trying to stop her.
Her body was released on 7 April 1993 and the funeral took place the same day. About 500 people attended the funeral of then youngest heroine of the silver screen, including Anil Kapoor, Govinda, Kamal Sadanah, Raj Babbar, Yash Chopra, Jimmy Nirula, Aruna Irani, Raza Murad, Chiranjeevi, Vikas Anand, Venkatesh, Ram Mohan, Javed Khan, Raj Kanwar, Nitin Manmohan and Pehlaj Nehlani, maker of her first hit, Shola Aur Shabnam. A large number of film personalities, including Hema Malini, Urmila Matondkar, Saif Ali Khan, Shahrukh Khan, Shilpa Shirodkar, Sonu Walia, Somy Ali, Babita, Karisma Kapoor, Sangeeta Bijlani, Tabu, Manisha Koirala and Asha Parekh, offered condolences to the bereaved family members at their residence.
She was scheduled to star in movies including Mohra, Laadla, Andolan, Angrakshak ,Kartavya and Vijaypath before her death; her roles were recast. Divya had almost completed 80% of Laadla before her death but the entire movie was redone with Sridevi. The footage of her performance that she had completed was seen in a special television programme which compared her performance with Sridevi's. The film was to be released in 1993 had Divya completed the movie but it was eventually released in 1994.
Divya's two final completed films, Rang and Shatranj, were released months after her death. These films in addition to several films produced by her husband Sajid Nadiadwala were dedicated to her memory.
The investigation into the circumstances of Divya Bharti's death was closed in 1998 without any definite verdict.