Could Hema Malini Have Acted Like Dharmendra After The Accident?

Hema Malini is 66-years old. Is it unfair to expect her to behave like an action hero after a traumatic car crash?

Published
Opinion
4 min read
Hema Malini is 66-years old. Is it fair to expect her to behave like an action hero after a traumatic car crash? (Photo: PTI/ANI)

Dharmendra, action hero of the 70s, could always be relied on to explode onto the screen and save the day.

On July 3, his actor-turned-politician wife, Hema Malini’s Mercedes smashed into a Maruti Alto on National Highway 11. It was 9:30pm and the Mathura MP was travelling from the Mehndipur Balaji Temple near Dausa to Jaipur.

In the moments that followed the crash, she was expected to behave like the door breaking, firefighting action hero that was her husband. It’s what any “decent” human being would do, people on Twitter said. Let’s examine what Hema Malini could have/should have done.

Hema Malini’s Mercedes S class (Left) crashed into a Maruti Alto (Right) at an intersection on National Highway 11 on June 3 at 8:50 PM. (Photo: PTI)
Hema Malini’s Mercedes S class (Left) crashed into a Maruti Alto (Right) at an intersection on National Highway 11 on June 3 at 8:50 PM. (Photo: PTI)

The Accident

The collision between the Mercedes S-class and the Maruti Alto, reportedly took place at an intersection. According to reports Hema Malini’s chauffer-driven car was overspeeding and the impact was such that the Merc skidded for almost 50 metres and jumped over the divider before coming to a halt. The impact on the Maruti Alto, which has zero stars in safety as per Global NCAP crash tests, killed two-year-old Chinni, riding inside.

Harsh Khandelwal’s younger daughter 2-year-old Chinni was killed in the car crash.
Harsh Khandelwal’s younger daughter 2-year-old Chinni was killed in the car crash.

Who’s To Blame?

There exists no one version of what happened. That Hema Malini’s car was moving at 100km/hour-plus speed has more or less been ascertained. But while overspeeding did compound the impact, it may not have directly caused the crash.

Hema Malini’s driver Mahesh Thakur claims innocence and says Chinni’s dad, Harsh Khandelwal, driving the Alto, turned onto the intersection without an indication. Mr Khandelwal denies that.

My indicator was on. The road was clear, so I turned. What traffic rule did I break? Was I speeding? Her car was at 150 plus speed.
– Harsh Khandelwal, Late Chinni’s Father

But a senior police officer Rajinder Tyagi told a news channel that “the Alto driver may not have been paid attention while entering the section of the highway where the collision took place”.

Contrary to rumours that Hema Malini’s drunk driving caused the accident, fact is, she was asleep in the back seat of her car. Could she have asked her driver to go slow? Possibly. The driver, Mahesh, was arrested and faces multiple charges. The most serious - (under Section 304) culpable homicide not amounting to murder. He is currently out on bail.

Hema’s party colleague and MP Babul Supriyo called it a “brutal mistake” on Hema Malini’s part to leave the accident victims behind, but he also criticised Chinni’s family as she was reportedly in the mother’s lap on the front seat, which did put her at risk. Again, easy to say in retrospect.

The Khandelwals were taken to two separate government hospitals in Dausa after the accident. (Photo: ANI screen grab)
The Khandelwals were taken to two separate government hospitals in Dausa after the accident. (Photo: ANI screen grab)

Could Hema Have Helped The Family?

There were five people in the Alto – Harsh Khandelwal, who was driving, suffered a fracture in the leg. His wife Shikha’s legs were crushed and she had to get stitches on the face. Their 2-year-old daughter Chinni was killed. Their six-year-old son, in the backseat of the car, has a fractured leg. The injuries to the fifth passenger, a woman, are not known.

Hema Malini had a deep gash near the right eyebrow, and a broken nose. Inspite of her injuries, she reportedly entered Jaipur’s Fortis hospital on her feet, where she had a two-hour long surgery.

The BJP MP has been criticized for leaving the injured family behind, as she was driven to the hospital by someone who witnessed the accident. But let’s remember, at that instant, Hema Malini was a 66-year-old grandmother, under injury trauma herself. She may well have been unaware that a two-year-old was critically injured some meters away.

Chinni’s father has said his child may have been saved had she been taken to Jaipur along with Hema Malini. But was it the injured MP’s call to leave Chinni behind? At the time, she was as much at the mercy of bystanders for help, as the Khandelwal family.

Doctors have given Hema Malini six weeks to fully recover from her injuries (Photo: PTI)
Doctors have given Hema Malini six weeks to fully recover from her injuries (Photo: PTI)

The actor-politician’s daughter Esha Deol while addressing the media said

When the accident took place, my mother as well as the family was not in a condition to comprehend anything but we are sad that a family has lost a dear one

The star’s family had pledged to take care of the medical costs of the Khandelwals, but a July 8 news report quotes the father as saying “nobody contacted us, nobody has helped us”.

Indefensible Insensitivity

Hema Malini provoked an angry backlash on social media and from the grieving father when she suggested in a tweet that the child may have been saved had he been driving on the right side of the road.

Important people say anything they want to from their comfort zones. If she has the courage, let her come and confront us.
– Harsh Khandelwal, Chinni’s Father

On the BJP MP’s part, enquiring about and helping the Khandelwals would’ve been the decent thing to do. A tweet attempting to blame the dead girl’s father was clearly insensitive.

But it would be just as unseemly to pin the death of little Chinni on Hema Malini.

(The Quint is available on Telegram. For handpicked stories every day, subscribe to us on Telegram)

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