Mumbai: When Asha Bhosle boarded her Mumbai-bound plane from Singapore this afternoon, she had still not been told that her only daughter and sole companion at home, Varsha, had shot herself dead.
Varsha Bhosle, 55, was found dead this afternoon with her mother’s licensed pistol in her hand and a bullet wound in her right temple, police said.
“Ashaji had gone to Singapore to attend the Marathi International Film and Theatre Awards and is expected to land in Mumbai around 9.05pm,” Chintu Bhosle, Asha’s grandson and a member of the 1990s band, Band of Boyz, said this evening.
“We have kept the news from her because she is 79, after all. She has been told that her daughter tried to commit suicide and is critical. My uncle Anand is accompanying her.”
Asha has two other children: Hemant, 62, and Anand, 52. Hemant is a former pilot and Anand is the singer’s business manager. Varsha was a journalist.
Varsha was just two years old when Asha, pregnant with Anand, walked out of her husband Ganpatrao Bhosle’s home. Varsha had recently written a poignant blog about her mother’s struggle and her earliest memories of her father.
With a failed marriage behind her, Varsha had been a victim of depression for over a decade and had attempted suicide twice earlier, in 2008 and 2010. Both times she had taken an overdose of sleeping pills. She was under psychiatric treatment.
Varsha lived with her mother in a sprawling apartment at the Prabhu Kunj building on Mumbai’s Peddar Road. An adjacent flat belongs to Asha’s sister Lata Mangeshkar.
Asha’s household help had stepped out on an errand, leaving Varsha alone in the flat.
“When she returned after half an hour, around 12.45pm, nobody answered the doorbell. After ringing the bell for nearly 20 minutes, she panicked and started banging on Lataji’s door. Lataji was not at home but some distant relatives were at her place,” said Himangshu Roy, joint commissioner (crime).
The relatives broke down a connecting door between the two flats. “They found her (Varsha) lying on a couch in the living room in a pool of blood. She had the pistol in her right hand and the bullet had gone through her right temple. No suicide note was found,” Roy said.
Varsha’s body has been sent to JJ Hospital for post-mortem.
Family members have told the police they are surprised how Varsha got to lay her hands on the pistol. “Usually, Asha tai kept her Belgian-made, 0.6mm-calibre licensed pistol in her locker. She kept it for security,” said a music director close to the singer.
The police are quizzing the maid, managers and family members.
“We are examining how she got her hands on the pistol given her suicidal tendencies. People around her should have been more careful,” a police source said. “Some family members are saying that before leaving for Singapore, Ashaji took the pistol out of her locker and asked her personal assistant to keep it handy in case of burglary at the house. Things will be clearer when Ashaji arrives.”
Varsha, a columnist with some of Mumbai’s leading dailies, was a singer too and would occasionally lend her voice to Marathi or Bollywood movies, such Junoon and Lootmaar. She often accompanied her mother to concerts.
Varsha had studied political science at Mumbai’s Elphinstone College before stepping into journalism. Once married to freelance sports writer and former Maharashtra cricketer Hemant Kenkre, Varsha had no children.
“I have not been in touch with the family for over 11 years. But I will go to her funeral,” Kenkre told.
-The Telegraph, Calcutta