As business in movie theatres across India came to a grinding halt in March, I recalled only one incident in the past when movie theatres were shut down across India. It was after the demolition of Babri Masjid in December 1992 and the film most hard hit by the closure was Hema Malini’s Dil Aashna Hai, the film that introduced Shah Rukh Khan and Divya Bharti and with which Hema Malini turned director.
After the demolition riots broke out in several parts of the country leaving the harried actress-director with no choice but to postpone her film’s release.
Dil Aashna Hai finally released on December 25, two weeks late. Divya Bharti was an instant star. Shah Rukh Khan had already become the nation’s sensation. Deewana had released two months earlier and …well… a star was born! Coincidentally the late Divya Bharti was SRK’s co-star in his first two releases Deewana and Dil Aashna Hai. And though the former released first SRK had signed the latter first.
Recalling how she signed SRK Hema Malini had told me how he met her as a newcomer in Mumbai and when she told him she was turning director he insisted on being in the film.
“I told him very bluntly that the film was based on the girl’s character. He could play her boyfriend which was a brief role. He insisted on playing the role. I wish I could give him more to do,” Hema expressed regret.
The film was ripped off from the Shirley Conan bestseller Lace. Many years later Hema directed the same story with her daughter Esha Deol in the lead in a film entitled Tell Me Oh Kkhuda. Both the versions of the story were crippling flops.
Divya Bharati had a brief but brilliant career as a leading lady before she died under highly mysterious circumstances.
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