The night after a major fire gutted the sets of daily soap Bepannah at Kanjurmarg’s Cinevista studios, the charred body of a crew member, Gopi Surajkumar Verma (20), was found on the floor of the sets at 8 am on Sunday.
Mumbai fire brigade investigators, meanwhile, have sought recordings of the scene that was being shot when the fire broke out, to ascertain its cause.
“Our team of investigators will interrogate each and everyone from the crew who was present at the sets when the fire broke out. However, the vital piece of evidence for us is the recording of the scene that was being shot at the time. It will tell us which scene was being enacted and shot. Did it involve any inflammable item or fire leading to the mishap? We have asked for the recordings of the scene,” said Kailash Hirwale, Chief Fire Officer (in-charge).
Hirwale added, “We will also check what kind of fire safety measures were taken on the sets. A shooting set involves a number of combustible items including props and clothes, so those in charge of the set need to ensure that fire safety measures such as fire extinguishers and other equipment are in place. We will take action if violations are found as one person was killed in the mishap.”
After the fire broke out, over 150 people were evacuated. However, no casualty was reported at the time. It was initially believed that the entire crew had been safely evacuated out of the studio on Saturday evening. The fire brigade found the body of Verma Sunday morning only after they had completed the cooling operations.
The body was sent to Rajawadi Hospital in Ghatkopar. A forensic expert said it was completely charred and death was caused not by suffocation but third degree burns. Locals who witnessed the fire said nobody knew Verma was inside. Verma was a boom man whose job was to hold the microphone for actors enacting their scenes during shooting .
Verma, a resident of Goregaon, had not returned home Saturday night after which his parents started worrying about him. On Sunday, Verma’s father Surajkumar, who also works in the film industry, reached the sets looking for his son. “The fire brigade went back to search for his body. It was found in the charred debris of the set,” said Suresh Gupta, who lives in the area.
Surajkumar said he wanted “justice for his son” and would register a case if “appropriate action” was not taken.