It was just another Bollywood stunt scene. Vivek Oberoi was to jump over a motorbike headed his way. But at 5 pm, on Vidyasagar Setu, it all went horribly wrong, sending a star and his director packing to hospital.
Oberoi lost his footing on the slippery bridge. Unable to stop in time, the bike ran over his left leg, breaking the shin bones. Director Mani Ratnam, who has been unwell through the shoot, which started on July 13, collapsed into his chair on seeing the accident.
Both were rushed to the hospital — Oberoi to Calcutta Medical Research Institute (CMRI) and Ratnam to BM Birla Heart Research Centre.
As the news of Oberoi’s injury spread, fans crowded CMRI, with some of them even making it up to the seventh floor, where their hero lay in the intensive care unit. The hospital security sprang into action, shutting the main gate by around 7 pm. But the crowd didn’t want to leave without knowing how the Saathiya star was. With little information trickling out from the hospital, rumours ran amok. “Abhishek and Ajay are injured, too,” a young fan said.
There were anxious faces when news leaked that Oberoi’s condition had worsened. Eighteen-year-old Manisha, who dropped by with her two friends and brother, burst into tears. “Please tell me how Vivek is doing,” she begged a securityman.
Inside the hospital, the film’s cast and crew had arrived, as had some relatives. But there was no news on Oberoi’s health.
After 7 pm, the exhausted Abhishek Bachchan and Ajay Devgan emerged from the hospital. Bachchan wore a blood-smudged shirt, not having changed since the afternoon shoot. They were greeted by a mini mob, anxious to know all about Oberoi’s left leg.
The two Bollywood stars were greeted by much the same scene at BM Birla, where they rushed to next, to call upon Mani Ratnam.
But here, the fans were fewer. Tempers were short and crew members urged security personnel not to make any comments to the media. Abhishek and Ajay were out of BM Birla by 7.45, around 15 minutes after their arrival. At about the same time, Kareena Kapoor, one of the female leads of the film, touched down at nearby Taj Bengal.