Anu Aggarwal was driving home from a party on a rainy night in Mumbai, India, in 1999 when her car ran off the road, flipping and smashing into a sand dune. The wreck left the then-30-year-old Bollywood star’s car totaled, her body broken in at least a dozen places. She’d lie in the hospital in a coma for 29 days.
Nine out of 10 people in her condition end up dying, she says — but somehow Aggarwal defied the odds to make a full recovery, a journey she chronicles in “Anusual: Memoir of a Girl Who Came Back From the Dead” .
“I’m fortunate enough to be a miracle,” says Aggarwal, now 47, who spent months in rehab relearning how to perform basic functions. “I left the house the last night [before my accident] not knowing that I wouldn’t come back to that house for a couple of months, and when I did eventually come back, I wouldn’t know the house was mine, or I wouldn’t know my name, or my mother, or that we were on a planet and what that means,” Aggarwal says. “Nothing.”
But the crash, as physically devastating as it was, forced her to re-evaluate her life.
From the late 1980s to 1995, Aggarwal was one of the brightest young Bollywood stars in Bombay. She got her start modeling in Paris and New York, and her career took off when she starred in “Aashiqui,” a blockbuster Bollywood film loosely based on Aggarwal’s life (she played the main character, also named Anu). The movie made her an instant household name in her native India.