Ran away to be movie star, ended up in mental asylum

The 13-year-old girl fled from Bangladesh to India to pursue a career in Bollywood; 7 years later she was finally reunited with her father

Hira Gaji was just 13 when she ran away from her home in Bangladesh to become a Bollywood heroine, instead ending up in a mental hospital in Pune after she had her heart broken. She may not have made it into the movies, but she finally had her own happy ending this week when she was reunited with her father after seven long years.

On Thursday, Hira (in green) was reunited with her father seven years after she ran away from her home in Bangladesh
On Thursday, Hira (in green) was reunited with her father seven years after she ran away from her home in Bangladesh

It took years of effort by two social workers Satish Naik and Mohan Bansode to get Hira to open up about her past and family. Suffering from psychosis, for years after her admission to the Regional Mental Hospital in Yerawada, Pune, she kept insisting that her name was Hema Malini, refusing to reveal anything about herself to the social workers.

Naik said, “Initally, Hira was mum on issues and never liked any male person interacting with her. It was only after regular interactions with her that she finally told us in 2014 that her name is Hira and that she hails from Bangladesh.”

Hira said, “I feel guilty for leaving my parents. I stole money from them and fled to Mumbai with my friend’s sister. She had claimed that most of the heroines were from Bangladesh and promised to give me a break in films too. But she took me to a dance bar and forced me to dance there.”

“When I turned 16, I fell in love with a boy who promised to marry me but instead used me for money and then left me. I lost all hope of life and fled from Mumbai. I don’t even know how I landed up in Pune. All I know is that I could finally sleep safely once I was in the hospital,” she recalled.

Based on the information she gave them, the social workers tracked down the family last year, with the help of the Internet and the local police station in Varshapada village, Bangladesh.

But that was not all, the Good Samaritans even helped the family with the visa arrangements so that Hira’s father could come to India and receive her himself.

On Thursday evening, when Hira saw her father, Firoz, both of them broke down. Her father had brought her favourite sweet, and as she ate it, she asked after her mother and siblings. “I thought my parents will not accept me, so I was shocked to see that my father had come to take me back with him,” said Hira, who hopes to help her father, a farmer, with skills she learnt at the hospital.

Eid miracle
“Hira was still a school student and we never thought her attraction to Bollywood would push her to such an extreme step. She had run away around Eid, and we thought she was angry because she did not get the dress she wanted. But this Eid is lucky for us, as we will celebrate with her again,” said Hira’s father, Firoz.

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