Hours after iconic playback singer Asha Bhosale’s daughter Varsha Bhosle, 56, shot herself at their Peddar Road residence on Sunday night, police were trying to trace the owner of the Baby Browning .22 pistol that she used to kill herself.
There are two guns in the family - Asha Bhosale’s brother Hridaynath Mangeshkar owns a .32 pistol, while her son Anand owns a .45 pistol. However, till late night cops knew nothing about the ownership of the Belgian make Baby Browning that Varsha put to her left temple at pulled the trigger sometime in the night.
Her blood-splattered body was found in the living room of the apartment that was locked from inside. The body was spotted by one of the family’s drivers who entered the apartment from Varsha’s aunt singer Lala Mangeshkar’s neighbouring flat.
Varsha had ordered food from a neighbourhood Chinese joint on Sunday night. Her half-eaten dinner was lying on the table with a half-full glass of water in the room where her body was found.
Both Hridaynath’s and Anand’s guns are licenced. Hridaynath’s gun is registered with the Gamdevi police station and Anand’s firearm is registered at the N M Joshi Marg police station.
Asha and Anand, who were away in Singapore, returned to Mumbai on Monday night. Varsha's second brother, who is based in Panchgani, too arrived in the city in the evening. Till the time of going to press, the cops had not questioned them. "The family's in shock. We hope to question some of them late in the night. We would like to know where did she get the Baby Browning gun from," a police officer investigating the case said.
|Asha Bhosale with Varsha
||A policeman peeks into Varsha Bhosle’s apartment on Pedder Road on Monday
Baby Browning is a miniature gun that requires some training to use. "It's not easy to handle. It fits in your palm. One requires special training to load it. The gun's owner will also be booked for causing death by negligence and under relevant sections of the Arms Act," the officer said Asha, family sources said, received a call in her hotel room from her driver in Mumbai telling her that Varsha had hurt herself. "Ashaji immediately rang up a family friend requesting him to rush to Prabhu Kunj and attend to Varsha," said a close family friend.
This was not the first time that Varsha had tried killing herself. She had attempted suicide twice before.
No one heard gun shot
DCP (Zone II) Nisar Tamboli said on Monday that the body was found almost 10 hours after Varsha killed herself. "The body's condition suggests the incident may have happened on Sunday night," he said. Police said nobody heard the gun shot, and no suicide note was found.
According to police, Varsha's domestic help Deepali Mane rang the doorbell around 9 am, but no one answered. Worried, she contacted Asha Bhosle's driver. Mane returned around 10.30 am and again, no-one responded to the knocks on the door, following which the driver, Vijay Nakashe, informed Lata Mangeshkar, who resides in the adjacent apartment.
Nakashe entered the flat through Lata Mangeshkar's flat, and found Varsha in a pool of blood on a sofa; the pistol still in her hand, the TV switched on.
Police said Varsha had stopped using her mobile phone for the past many days; hence it was difficult to find out whom she spoke to last. The call records of the landline are being scrutinised, police said.
Sources close to the family said Lata Mangeshkar has been "shattered" by the incident. A family friend said, "Lataji is extremely worried about Asha. To see the sisters, who are in their 80s, to go through such tragedy is gut-wrenching. The cops are questioning the family members."
Varsha had married a public relations professional, but the couple divorced in 1998. Police have learnt that she wanted to start an orphanage with fashion photographer Gautam Rajadakshya (he passed away last year).
Varsha, who was said to be very close to Rajadhyaksha, was distraught after his death and was under medication for depression. Those close to the family said Asha Bhosle was the only one who was able to handle Varsha's mood swings. "We kept our distance from Varsha because we were never sure how she would react. Asha was the only one who knew how to handle her," a amily friend said.
A family friend said, "She led a troubled life. Was it the pressure of being Asha Bhosle's daughter, we will never know. None of the second generation Mangeshkars made it big, but it seems Varsha took it to heart."
Varsha was once asked why she gave up singing, and she said, "If you can't take the heat, don't step into the kitchen." As a child singer, Varsha's voice was used for Dev Anand-starrer Lootmaar. The song, 'Has tu hardam', composed by Rajesh Roshan, became quite popular.
With inputs from Subhash K Jha