By Prajal Sakhardande
It was a fairy tale wedding. The year was 1975.
Siddharth Bandodkar the promising and only son of Goa’s first chief minister, Bhausaheb Bandodkar wed Hindi film actress Leena Chandavarkar on December 8, 1975 at Mumbai. It made national news.
Siddharth was young and at 25 a promising industrialist, mine owner, generous like the father, handsome with a brilliant career ahead. Leena was a famous film star of the early 70s who acted in blockbusters like Manchali, Humjoli, Main Sunder Hoon, Bidaai, Qaid, Honeymoon, Rakhwala and so on.
Till date she is famous for her badminton song “Dhal gaya din” with Jeetendra from the hit film ‘Humjoli’ of early 70s.
Leena Chandavarkar was the girl from Dharwad who made her debut in Sunil Dutt’s film ‘Man ka Meet’ of 1968-69. She was an instant hit with all top actors like Rajesh Khanna, Sanjeev Kumar, Dharmendra, Jeetendra, Vinod Khanna, Shatrughan Sinha, Dilip Kumar working with her. But she quit it all to marry the handsome Siddharth.
They were engaged on September 29, 1974. Goans looked forward to seeing their beloved ‘Babu’ marry Leena and the wedding was fixed for December 8, 1975 as Leena had to complete films like Bairag, Zalim, Nalayak, Akhri Goli, Daku aur Jawan, Apne Rang Hazar, Jaggu and others. Finally, D-day arrived and Siddharth and Leena were married. Leena Chandavarkar was named Anuradha Bandodkar. All the newspapers carried photographs of the charming bridal couple on their front page.
On December 15, 1975 at Children’s Park, Panaji a grand reception was hosted by the Bandodkar family and the then chief minister, Shashikalatai Kakodkar, his eldest sister.
But alas all this was short-lived. As fate would have it on the night of December 18, 1975 at the Altinho residence while Siddharth and Leena were preparing themselves to attend the Red and Black dance on the eve of liberation day celebrations held at Panaji suddenly a pistol, which Siddharth carried in his trouser pocket, accidentally triggered and the bullet passed through Siddharth’s stomach rupturing his spleen.
A profusely bleeding Siddharth was taken to GMC and then to Jaslok in Mumbai. After a long struggle Siddharth recovered and returned home and the whole of Goa was relieved and happy. However, it was a travesty of fate that once again exactly on the occasion of his birthday in October 1976, he developed complications and was shifted hurriedly to Jaslok. Battling for life the 26-year-old promising son of Goa passed away on November 7, 1976. As the news was announced on radio, the whole of Goa wept. Within a matter of three years of Bhausaheb Bandodkar’s passing away on this day – August 12, 1973 – his only son also passed away. It was a grave tragedy for the Bandodkar family.
On November 8, 1976, Siddharth was cremated at Dona Paula amidst downpours. It was as if even the heavens were weeping. Entire Goa came to a standstill. All establishments were closed on that day.
A memorial stands at Dona Paula dedicated to Siddharth next to his mother Sunandabai. Shashikalatai has dedicated the Siddharth Bhavan in memory of her beloved brother.
Siddharth was associated with many social organisations.