Whether late actor Sushant Singh Rajput died by suicide or was it a well-planned murder is for the investigating authorities to determine, but his death has brought a major discussion to the fore: Depression. While the industry presents its glimmering success stories for everyone’s view, numerous horrid and heart-breaking filmdom tragedies springing from depression have been shoveled under the rug.
One such forgotten story is of Hindi film director and producer, Brijmohan Sadanah. Credited as Brij, he had delivered some of the most memorable films that turned out to be box officer slayers during the 1960s to mid-80. Ustadon Ke Ustad(1963), Yeh Raat Phir Na Ayegi(1966), Do Bhai(1969), and Victoria No. 203 were some of the masterpieces originating from his vivid imagination.
He married a small-time actress, Sayeeda Khan, and had two children with her, a daughter, Namrata Sadanah, and a son Kamal Sadanah. But theirs wasn’t the happiest and blissful family in town. The couple would fight regularly, and then there was this concept of the ‘annual fight’ as his daughter Namrata had labeled it.
Once, on such an annual fight, Sayeeda Khan left the bungalow with her children and went to their apartment at the Carter road. Brij followed them inebriated and furious. When denied entry by the guard, he opened fire in the air with the registered gun he owned. Seeing how far Brij could go in anger, Sayeeda used her political clot – being friends with Sunil Dutt’s wife, Nargis Dutt came in handy here – and got the weapon confiscated. But in the mid-80s, when the country was reeling under the Punjab insurgency, citing threatening calls from Khalistani terrorists, Brij managed to get his gun back.
This was also the time when the renowned director of the 60s and 70s, had started to realize that he had lost his touch. His magic had expired. He suffered a major setback after his films started to flop at the box-office. Magroor, Bombay 405 Miles, and Oonche Log were consecutive disasters that had taken a toll on his well-being.
The air was not very refreshing at Jal Kamal, his sprawling garden-fronted bungalow on 28th Road, Bandra either. Quarrels between the couple, mostly surrounding a third person were common and only getting worse with time. It is being said that his daughter Namrata was seeing a man from a different religion and Sardanah didn’t approve of it. Having no patience for her father’s reservations, Namrata had decided to marry the man she loved. This had added to the filmmaker’s stress who was battling a string of failed projects and monetary losses.
It was his son’s 20th birthday, his wife and he had already had a round of flare-up in the morning. Used to the everyday bickering, the son, Kamal Sadanah left for his celebrations and returned home at around midnight with his friends. The boys were hanging out in his room when they heard repeated gunshots tearing through the other room. They ran outside to check, Brij Sadanah had already shot his daughter Namrata and his wife Sayeeda; he turned his gun at Kamal who had just rushed outside, the bullet brushed through his neck. Brij returned to his room.
Kamal’s friends rushed him to the hospital; he was rescued after surgery, unlike his sister who was declared dead on arrival and his mother, who had succumbed to her injuries as well. When all the family members he had gunned down were taken away to the hospital, alone in his room, a drunken Brij Sadana shot himself dead in the massive Jal Kamal. Brij Mohan’s films were mostly romantic thrillers, but the legacy of the holocaust he left behind is perhaps the industry’s most Gothic horror.