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Sarita Khajuria's death is a mystery
Shyam Bhatia in London | June 11, 2003 20:22 IST
Bhaji On The Beach and Bend It Like Beckham actress Sarita Khajuria, who had drowned in the Thames earlier this year, was the daughter of an Indian architect father and a Finnish mother. She vanished after boarding a Eurostar train from Paris to Waterloo.
The inquest was held recently.
Relatives do not think the 29-year-old committed suicide, though the London police suspect she may have jumped off the Albert Bridge in London's fashionable Chelsea district.
Actress and writer Meera Syal, who wrote the screenplay for Gurinder Chadha's Bhaji On The Beach, described Khajuria's death as 'an appalling tragedy'. She was quoted by the British media as saying, 'Sarita was a great actress. There were many things she wanted to explore. She was the lead in a major film, but maintained a great sense of modesty. It is such a waste of a hugely talented and lovely young woman.'
Writer and broadcaster Imran Khan -- Khajuria's boyfriend between 1998 and 2000 -- said, "I was devastated. I could not tally what happened with the Sarita I knew. Nobody was sure what had gone on. She was incredible. By the time I got to know her, she had been in a feature film and learnt to fly with the RAF [Royal Air Force]. She was so switched on, full of life and vibrant. She had loads of friends."
Khajuria left a message on her sister's telephone soon after arriving at London's Waterloo station on March 17. She had also arranged to be met at a station close to the family home in Barnet, but failed to turn up. The following day, she sent an email to a friend. But on March 19, her body was found by the river, together with her backpack. Her passport and suitcase were missing.
Her mother Anneli fears her daughter may have been pushed. She said, "Maybe she lost her balance or something happened on that train. My fear is someone took her off."
As a student, Khajuria gained five A levels at the North London Collegiate School. She played Hashia in the 1993 film Bhaji On The Beach before going to university and gaining a master's degree in international journalism. She was also a presenter on the children's television news show, First Edition, on Channel 4.
In 1999, a car crash left her in a coma for two months, forcing her to learn to read and write again. By 2001, she had recovered fully and played a small role in Chadha's Bend It Like Beckham.
A police spokeswoman who refused to comment until the full inquest was published said, "We are concerned because the family is unhappy with the investigation."