Divya Bharti

Divya Om Prakash Bharti (also known as Sana Nadiadwala after marriage; 1974 – 1993) was an Indian film actress, who starred in a number of commercially successful Hindi and Telugu motion pictures in the early 1990s and was one of the most successful Indian actress.

Divya was widely recognized as one of the finest actresses of her time. She started to get offers in films as early as 14 years of age, making her debut at age 16 with a lead role in the Telugu drama Bobbili Raja (1990). After starring in a number of popular Telugu films, she then progressed to Bollywood (Hindi) films in 1992 with the action thriller Vishwatma. Bharti went on to have commercial success alongside top actors including Govinda in films like Shola Aur Shabnam and Deewana with Rishi Kapoor and newcomerShah Rukh Khan, the latter of which garnered her a Filmfare Award for Lux New Face of the Year. She acted in over 14 Hindi films between 1992 and early 1993 which is to date an unbroken record for a newcomer in Bollywood.

Bharti died on 5 April 1993 at the age of 19after falling off the balcony of her five-story apartment in Versova.Her cause of falling was never officially confirmed that whether it was a murder, suicide or accident.



Early life

Divya Bharti was born in Mumbai, India, to Om Prakash Bharti, an insurance officer, and his wife, Meeta Bharti.She had a younger brother named Kunal and two half-siblings who were the children of Divya’s father first marriage. She spoke Hindi, English, and Marathi fluently. In her early years, Bharti was known for her bubbly personality and love of life, as well as for her doll-like looks. Actress Kainaat Arora is her second cousin.

Bharti studied at Maneckji Cooper High School in Juhu, Mumbai. She was an average student and completed IXth standard before pursuing an acting career.


1988 – 1990: Early work

In 1988, Bharti was discovered by filmmaker Nandu Tolani. Upon seeing her, Tolani insisted on signing her for one of his films. At that time, Bharti was in the ninth standard (in ninth grade). She was originally scheduled to make her screen debut in Gunahon Ka Devta in 1988, but her role was cancelled.Kirti Kumar noticed Bharti at a video library and thus was eager to sign her for his project Radha Ka Sangam opposite Govinda, as he was searching for a new face. Weeks later, Kumar met with Dilip Shankar and managed to release Bharti from her contract. After taking dancing and acting lessons for months to prepare for her role, Bharti was eventually dropped and replaced by Juhi Chawla.Though the reasons remain unclear, it was speculated that Kumar’s possessiveness over Bharti and her childish nature was the cause of her replacement.She continued to sign a variety of Bollywood-films before dropping out and getting replaced by other actresses, such as Tabu.

Bharti’s career was stalled until D. Ramanaidu, one of the biggest producers of Telugu films, offered her Bobbili Raja opposite his son Daggubati Venkatesh. Without hoping for success after experiencing a lot of failures in Bollywood, she commenced shooting for her screen debut in Andhra Pradesh. The film was released in the summer of 1990 and became a colossal hit.Bobbili Raja remains to this day one of the most popular Telugu movies.

Bharti acted in only one Tamil film, Nila Penne opposite Anand. The film was critically and financially unsuccessful.


1990 – 1992: Rise to stardom in Telugu cinema

With more hits in the Telugu cinema, Bharti established herself as one of the most popular actresses in Telugu.In box-office ratings, she figured next to Vijayshanti. In 1991, Bharti had back-to-back hits, including Rowdy Alludu and Assembly Rowdy opposite actors Chiranjeevi and Mohan Babu.

Later that year, Bharti began filming A. Kodandarami Reddy’s action romance Dharma Kshetram under Sri Rajeev Productions. Bharti got to work for Telugu film actor Nandamuri Balakrishna.

992 – 1993: Rise to stardom in Bollywood

While Bharti celebrated her success in Andhra Pradesh, Bollywood’s top directors were eager to sign the Telugu superstar for their upcoming films. Bharti’s first Bollywood film was Vishwatma opposite Sunny Deol, directed by Rajiv Rai, and released 2 January 1992. The film was an average grosser at the box office and gained Bharti wider recognition from the public as well as film critics.Notably, the music of the film was very successful, especially the song “Saat Samundar” which became a favorite and put Bharti in the limelight of Bollywood.

A week later, Bharti’s next film, Lawrence D’Souza’s romantic drama Dil Ka Kya Kasoor, alongside Prithvi released. Though the film failed at the box office, it brought her name in the Filmfare magazine’s “Top Ten Best Actress Performances” of 1992. The movie was also recognized for its outstanding music. But after the failure of the film at the box office, she was quoted as saying, “I wanted to prove myself. But I’ve fallen flat on my face. Now, I have to begin my climb all over again. Yet, I’m positive that one day, success will be mine.” (Stardust, March 1992).

In March 1992, David Dhawan’s Shola Aur Shabnam was released. It was popular with critics and was a box office hit in India, reviving Bharti’s career once again. She received a Lux Face of the Year title. It also gave a big boost to Govinda and launched David Dhawan as an established director.Shortly after, Bharti achieved further success in Raj Kanwar’s Filmfare-award winning love story Deewana starred veteran actor Rishi Kapoor and newcomer Shahrukh Khan, which is regarded as one of the biggest blockbuster hits of 1992. Her performance in Deewana was highly appreciated.Critics reported that Bharti belonged to a new breed of Hindi film actors who broke away from character stereotypes. Bharti and Shahrukh Khan won the Filmfare Award for Lux New Face of the Year and Filmfare Award for Best Male Debut respectively. By July 1992, Bharti’s work in Deewana was said to have earned her more recognition.

She had several other releases that year, among them Jaan Se Pyaara which featured Bharti alongside Govinda once again, Geet opposite Avinash Wadhawan, Dushman Zamana alongside Armaan Kohli and Balwaan which marked the debut of newcomer Sunil Shetty. The latter being a low budget film, achieved moderate success due to Bharti’s popularity and opened doors to Shetty who pursued a career in action oriented films henceforth. In October, she starred in Hema Malini’s Dil Aashna Hai, again oppositeShahrukh Khan. The film garnered negative reviews and poor box office returns.

As far as the Telugu film industry is concerned, Bharti decided to film one movie per year in order to not disappoint her Telugu audience. Thus, Chittamma Mogudu was released at the end of 1992, starring once again the popular couple of Bharti and Mohan Babu.

The ensemble film Kshatriya in which she co-starred alongside Sunny Deol, Sanjay Dutt and Raveena Tandon, released 10 days before her sudden death on 5 April 1993. It was the last movie release during Bharti’s lifetime.

Personal life

Divya loved to swim and engage in other activities at the Juhu Vile Parle Gymkhana Club in Mumbai along with her brother Kunal. Her parents noticed her interest in acting at a young age since Bharti used to skip studies in order to imitate the dance moves of the most recent Bollywood films at that time, such as the 1983 hit film Himmatwala, starring Sridevi and one of Divya’s most favourite actors, Jeetendra. She occasionally visited the Siddhivinayak Temple and loved to eat their Modaks.

Bharti met Sajid Nadiadwala through Govinda at the shooting of Shola Aur Shabnam. Soon both Bharti and Nadiadwala fell in love with each other. Bharti converted to Islam and adopted the name Sana, and married to Sajid Nadiadwala on 10 May 1992 at Mumbai in an Islamic wedding ceremony.

Death and aftermath

Two of Bharti’s completed films Rang and Shatranj were released several months after her death and dedicated to her memory. Both the movies were box-office hits. At the time of her death, she had completed 80% of the filming of Laadla, and Sridevi was recast in her role. Footage of Divya’s performance in Laadla was seen in a television program in 1994. She was replaced in several other films she had signed such as Mohra, Kartavya, Vijaypath and Andolan. Her incomplete Telugu film Tholi Muddhu was partly completed by Indian actress Rambha, who slightly resembled Bharti and hence completed a few scenes of the movie for her. Several movies which she had signed were also subsequently shelved such as Parinaam with Akshay Kumar and Chaal Pe Chaal with Jackie Shroff.On 5 April 1993 (eleven months after her marriage to Sajid Nadiadwala), around 11:45 PM, Bharti fell off the balcony of her five-story Tulsi apartment building and landed on the ground floor car park in Versova, Mumbai. Neighbours heard a loud “thud” and after investigating found Bharti unconscious and drenched in blood at the bottom of the building.In shock, the neighbours called the police and the ambulance. Bharti breathed her last at the emergency department of Cooper Hospital. The immediate cause of death was stated as heavy internal bleeding due to the injury at the back of her head. Her cause of falling was never officially confirmed.


Year Title Role Language Notes
1990 Bobbili Raja Rani Telugu Debut film
1990 Nila Penne Surya Tamil Only Tamil language film
1991 Naa Ille Naa Swargam Pratusha Telugu Dubbed
1991 Rowdy Alludu Rekha Telugu
1991 Assembly Rowdy Pooja Telugu
1992 Dharma Kshetram Payal Telugu
1992 Vishwatma Kusum Hindi Debut Hindi film
1992 Shola Aur Shabnam Divya Thapar Hindi
1992 Dil Ka Kya Kasoor Seema/Shalini Saxena Hindi
1992 Jaan Se Pyaara Sharmila Hindi
1992 Deewana Kaajal Hindi Filmfare Award for Lux New Face of the Year
1992 Balwaan Deepa Hindi
1992 Dushman Zamana Seema Hindi
1992 Dil Aashna Hai Laila / Sitara Hindi
1992 Geet Neha Hindi Partly Dubbed
1992 Chittemma Mogudu Chittemma Telugu
1992 Dil Hi To Hai Bharati Hindi
1993 Kshatriya Tanvi Singh Hindi Last release during lifetime
1993 Tholi Muddhu Divya Telugu Posthumous released/Partly completed by South Indian actress Rambha
1993 Rang Kajal Hindi Posthumous release/Dubbed
1993 Shatranj Renu Hindi Last release after demise/Dubbed