exclusive by Devansh Patel
It's been a week of terror, anger, protests, resignations, condolences, rallies and deep silence. Where shops, cafes and restaurants attracted very few customers, our very own Bollywood industry too suffered it's worst ever week with cinema halls running half empty.
Every Mumbaiker and an Indian has gone through their toughest days, but far away in the west there was one actress who was also affected by what she saw and heard, a true Mumbaiker, Adah Sharma. The actress has just returned from the U.K after a three week shoot of her next Vikram Bhatt production titled 'Phirr'. Shocked after having landed in Mumbai just two days back, Adah unfolds to me how she passed her last seven days in Newcastle away from her dearest city Mumbai.
"We were shooting in one of the penthouses in Newcastle. Rajneesh Duggal and me were filming the scene. Praveen Bhatt received an sms from his son Vikram Bhatt who was in Mumbai. Vikram was only there with us for the first one week. Pravin uncle told us that there were bomb blasts in Mumbai. Within a few minutes, another sms from Vikram said that there was a second blast somewhere from Nariman Point followed by a third sms which told us something similar. Everyone on the set started talking about it but no one had a clue as to what was going on, how many were killed, etc. So we went ahead and completed the scene, wrapped the shoot and came back to the hotel", the actress revealed. But what Adah was about to hear and witness next left her in a state of shock.
She continues from where she left, "My mother was in the hotel waiting for me and was busy surfing channels on the television. My eyes couldn't believe what I was seeing. The Taj and the Oberoi taken over by the terrorists. BBC, Channel Five, Sky News, all had the same story to tell, Mumbai under attack. I sat next to my mother and there was silence in the room with only reporters doing the talking. After a short while I got a call from my friend in Mumbai who informed me that our common friend was trapped in the Taj with his parents who had gone there for a wedding reception. I spoke to him via a conference call made by my Mumbai friend who'd called me". She adds further, "I felt numb, I was still confused as to what was happening. Figures kept on changing. First it said that 900 were dead, then it came down to 500 to 250 and then 100 the next day morning. Before I could think of me being scared, I wanted to know how everyone in Mumbai was".
Like many, Adah Sharma woke up on a chilly Newcastle morning of the 27th November with a thought in her mind that everything would've come to an end in Mumbai. But her thoughts couldn't change the reality. Mumbai was under attack on the second day running with hundreds of hostages in both the hotels, some killed by the brutal terrorists. Now what had become a worldwide headline, I asked Adah whether the hotel staff were worried about the cast and the crew who had come down from Mumbai, to which she replied, "The next day when I came down for breakfast, the hotel staff came up to us and wanted to know whether our friends and family back home were safe. They were very supportive. Even while filming a scene in the middle of a road near a small coffee house, a very old couple came up to us and wanted to know what film we were shooting. They came to know it's a Bollywood film we were making and immediately showed their concern to what was happening in Mumbai. Every Britisher was talking about the Mumbai bombings and it was so nice to see that the whole world comes together to lend their support and help during a crisis like this. I was touched".
All this and it was back to work for the actress. But did it affect her work was the question. Adah answered, "We all knew what was happening back home but it was our responsibility to finish the shoot. Yes, our mobiles kept ringing, messages kept buzzing, but work too kept going. The last few days was like your worst nightmare coming true". One of the youngest actors around, Adah has got a long career ahead of her. So what does she think as the city's youth, what change is needed to safeguard our country? "It's no point cursing the politicians and the government. It will only change once new laws, new policies and new politicians take over. As far as the security is concerned, I think our police should be equipped with more arms and ammunitions. What happened at the CST station was unthinkable. All the police could do was run away from just two terrorists only because they were short of guns. The police could have saved more lives if they had enough arms and ammunitions", thinks Adah. And what does she think of the RGV incident? "I've been reading about it ever since I came to Mumbai. I think it's not nice to comment on something you don't know about. But I knew that the police had no weapons at the CST station and thus I can comment on that", comments the actress.
If we flip the history pages, we have come to know that security has not been able to save anyone, be it JFK, Indira Gandhi or Rajiv Gandhi. The actress agrees with me, "You're right but it's stupid that if your intelligence warns you a good four months ago about such terrorist attacks, the country's security should be kept at high alert. You cannot cheat death but you can save more people from dying. It's not our security which has failed over the years but our system because we have only managed to cure the ill, not the illness. Once we understand that, our nation will be secured".