Divya Bharti was an Indian actress who, with her captivating presence, talent, versatility and beauty made her own mark on the silver screen. She largely worked in Hindi and Telugu language films, having done twenty-one films throughout her short lived career.
Divya was born on 25th February 1974, in the city of Mumbai to Om Prakash Bharti and Meeta Bharti. From a young age, Divya wished to be an actor, and took the necessary steps towards reaching this dream by working as a model at 14, and debuting with her first film at 16. She eventually went on to become one of the highest paid and most sought after actors of her time. Her unfortunate demise at the youthful age of 19 cut her career short, but wht she achieved in her active years was explosive, and cannot be forgotten easily.
Divya was a force to be reckoned with from the very beginning, making huge waves in her first movie ‘Bobbili Raja’, a telugu feature directed by Bejawada Gopal, released in 1990. Many top directors in the north wished to sign her as she had become a sensation in the south and set out to work in Hindi cinema.
She made her debut in Hindi cinema with the action thriller ‘Vishwatma’ by Rajiv Rai that released in 1992. Within the span of two years as an actress, she landed approximately 14 films. In an industry that was at the time being dominated by female actors like Tabu, Karishma Kapoor, Juhi Chawla and others, she managed to hold her own and create a space for herself.
Divya’s first bollywood box office hit was the romantic action drama movie by David Dhawan, ‘Shola Aur Shabnam’ which was released in the year 1992. She received further appreciation and attention for the famous award winning romance film by Raj Kanwar named ‘Deewana’. This movie was one of the biggest hits in 1992 and starred veteran actor Rishi Kapoor and also launched Shahrukh Khan. After the movie’s release, Divya Bharti was lauded by critics and the audience alike.
‘Deewana’ gave India the iconic song ‘Aisi Deewangi Dekhi Nahi Kahin’ that is very popular even today. Divya Bharti was recognised for her talent when she won the prestigious Filmfare Award for New Face of the Year. Deewana won five out of the nine nominations at the 39th Filmfare Awards. Additionally, her co-star Shah Rukh Khan won the Filmfare Best Male Debut award for his role.
Critics praised her for taking on unorthodox roles that set her apart and made her a joy to watch. She was also respected and adored by her peers such as Shahrukh Khan, with whom Divya worked in Deewana and Dil Aashna Hai. He once mentioned Divya Bharti in an interview as, “One of the finest actresses I have worked with.”
Divya got married at 18 to Sajid Nadiadwala, a famous film producer and director in the Hindi cinema industry. She is said to have converted to Islam from Hinduism after she got married. Sajid Nadiadwala admitted in an interview that he was afraid that once producers came to learn about Divya’s marriage, it would affect her career negatively.
This was and still might be the sad reality as women are no longer considered “desirable” once married, bear children or age. Womens’ careers are affected in detrimental ways due to the aforementioned life changes. The same effects or consequences are not experienced by men, which unveils the glaring difference in the treatment of men and women.
Even accomplished, privileged actors like Kareena Kapoor Khan have talked about the warnings she received when she decided to wed Saif Ali Khan. “When I was getting married, people told me not to get married because my career would end after that. I was told that no producer will take me in his films and I will not get any work”, she said in an interview. It is mournful and unfortunate that almost 30 years after Divya Bharti’s death, little has evolved and women are still expected to compromise and choose between their career and personal life.
Divya’s unfortunate death came as a shock to everyone and left many devastated. The young actress is said to have been in an inebriated state when she was on the ledge of her 5th floor home’s balcony in Mumbai, from where she slipped and fell. She was reportedly still alive and breathing after the fall, but died on arrival at the hospital from head injuries.
Divya Bharti had a short yet dynamic career. While she might have stayed on screen for years to come, playing exciting and inspiring characters, her unfortunate and sudden demise means that her audience will never know what could have been. However, her film career of three years produced many iconic and timeless movies and songs that are still relevant and celebrated. Divya Bharti’s legacy will live on through her work and her story will remain unforgettable.