Even as Bollywood reels from the death of music composer Shravan Rathod, it is now emerging that days before testing positive for COVID-19, he had visited the controversial Kumbh Mela in the Indian state of Uttarakhand.
The news was confirmed by his son Saanjeev Rathod who spoke to the Indian Express from a hospital bed while recovering from the virus.
“We had never thought our family would have to go through such tough times, my father passed away, I am Covid positive and so is my mother. My brother is also positive and is in home isolation, but since our father has died, he is being allowed to do the final procedures to do last rites for our father,” Sanjeev told the Indian daily.
Nadeem Saifi and Rathod, popularly known as Nadeem-Shravan, were the biggest music composers for Bollywood films in the 90s, providing tunes to the soundtracks of several hit films, including ‘Aashiqui’ (1990), ‘Saajan’ (1991), ‘Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke’ (1993), ‘Raja Hindustani’ (1996), ‘Pardes’(1997) and many more.
After returning from Kumbh Mela, Rathod reportedly complained about difficulty in breathing and was moved to a hospital in Mumbai. On Thursday (April 22), the composer died at the age of 66 from complications stemming from the virus.
Singer Udit Narayan, who mourned the loss of his friend, spoke to Time of India about Rathod’s visit to the Kumbh Mela. “Shravan bhai had gone to the Kumbh Mela recently and had called me from there saying, ‘I have come to the Kumbh Mela for the holy bath.’ I told him that he should’ve told me about this earlier and that I could have also gone with him. But after he got off the phone, I thought to myself that during the pandemic, why did he go there? He already had health issues, yet he went there. He did not listen to others and went there, and now he is no longer with us. May his soul rest in peace,” Narayan said.
This year’s Kumbh Mela has been shrouded in controversy as India grapples with a record high surge in COVID-19 cases. Hundreds of people returning from the religious event have tested positive for the coronavirus with the latest news confirming that 65 healthcare professionals also affected. Meanwhile, a seer at the festival, a BJP politician are amongst those who have died.
Delhi had imposed a 14-day quarantine for those returning from the Kumbh Mela.
Over the weekend, cases in India crossed 300,000 daily, with a desperate need for oxygen in hospitals sweeping across the country.
Bollywood itself has been affected in this second wave that has swept through the film industry, with Arjun Rampal and Neil Nitin Mukesh announcing they had tested positive last week. Before them, A-listers such as Aamir Khan, Akshay Kumar, Alia Bhatt, Ranbir Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, Vicky Kaushal, Bhumi Pednekar, Sonu Sood and many others also tested positive in the last few weeks.