Suresh Oberoi was part of the cast of Coolie. So he knows all about a stunt scene gone horribly wrong. But nothing he might have experienced then — with Amitabh Bachchan suffering a near-fatal blow on the sets of the Manmohan Desai film — could prepare him for what Wednesday had in store for the Oberoi family.
It was just another day at the Oberoi house at Ruia Park, Juhu. (“It is time for saab to get back home. He will be here any moment,” the servant said, when Metro first tried to contact Vivek’s father.)
It was 6 pm, and the news of the mishap on Vidyasagar Setu — that ended with the younger Oberoi landing in hospital with a broken left leg — had not reached his Mumbai home.
There was “no correct information” available from Calcutta till about 6.30 pm. All the family had heard was that Vivek had suffered an accident on the sets of the latest Mani Ratnam venture, for which he was shooting along with Abhishek Bachchan and Ajay Devgan.
That was enough to send Suresh Oberoi’s secretary driving full speed to the airport. “No, Mr Oberoi has not managed to speak to his son. Is it serious' What hospital is he in' Can you let us know'” she pleaded.
Half an hour later, the conversation overheard on the mobile was urgent. “Is there anything on Flight 510' Kuchh bhi nahin hai'” The action plan till then was flying down straight to Calcutta. But there were just no flights. “It has rained heavily here. The lines are down and I can’t even get through to home,” the secretary said.
Back at the house, after a series of urgent calls to Calcutta, the Oberois slammed the doors on the probing world. The final call, late on Wednesday, when forwarded to the Oberoi bedroom, just kept ringing.
“Vivek baba ka khabar mila hain. Woh log ab phone nahin uthayenge (We have heard from Vivek. The family has decided not to take any more calls),” the voice on the phone said.
The word that Suresh Oberoi let out was that he was “in constant touch with the doctors”, but it was “too early to say anything more”.
Both at the Calcutta Medical Research Institute, where Vivek was undergoing tests till late on Wednesday, and at Taj Bengal, where the film crew was huddled together, there was confusion about when the Oberoi family would be by Vivek’s hospital bed.