Actress-turned-television presenter Simi Garewal has opened up on her first meeting with former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and making his documentary titled India's Rajiv on his death anniversary.
Wednesday (May 20) marked the 29th death anniversary of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, who was assassinated on May 21, 1991. Many people across the country recalled the memories about him and Simi Garewal was one of them. She wrote an emotional blog on her journey from her first meeting with him and to how she was shocked to hear the news about his assassination.
Simi Garewal shared the link to the blog titled 'The Rajiv Gandhi I Knew..' and tweeted on his death anniversary, "He said "If it comes to sacrificing my life for my country - I won't hesitate..' 29 yrs ago, today, he left us...bereft. Not a day goes by when we don't grieve the tragic loss..Read my article: The Rajiv I Knew.."
In her blog, Simi Garewal reveals that she was nervous, when she approached Rajiv Gandhi for the documentary for the first time. But his gentle voice gave her the courage to talk to him. She also says that he was impressed with her 1984 documentary Living Legend Raj Kapoor and readily agreed for her offer.
Simi Garewal says that he declined to read the synopsis of his documentary and never even asked her questions in advance. She writes, "He never asked me how I was planning to make my film, never refused my direction; never interfered. People may not believe this but he never once asked for my questions in advance! Which is why his answers were so spontaneous."
The TV presenter says that she travelled with Rajiv Gandhi all over India and abroad for the next 4 1/2 years. Apart from several interviews, she also filmed him piloting his plane, playing with his dogs and driving his car. But 1989 was a bad year for both of them as he lost the election and she lost her beloved mother. She writes, "It was a very painful time and my sister and I went away to London for several months. To heal..."
She adds, "When I reached Delhi, Rajiv-ji was now in 10 Janpath. He said he had seen the two parts of my film and thanked me. So did Sonia-ji, in a beautiful letter. In those days her letters were handwritten. Rajiv-ji asked several times, 'what can I do for you?' 'Nothing' I replied. 'There has to be something' 'Ok then - I'd like an autographed photograph' I replied - and he laughed."
Recalling the fateful night, Simi Garewal writes, "Campaign films done, I returned to Mumbai. It was quite late at night and the TV had gone off in the entire area. So I decided to play video games to wind down. My sister, Amrita, was strangely restless and I remember her looking for a radio. 'Who on earth listens to radios' I told her.
Simi Garewal adds, "She tuned in to the BBC and we heard those awful words: "Rajiv Gandhi has been assassinated." We reeled with shock! I thought, hoped, maybe he is only hurt, maybe he can get medical help and be alright. Frantic, I rang Rajiv-ji's private secretary, Mr. V. George - and he confirmed the awful news. My thoughts went to Sonia-ji, Priyanka and Rahul - that close family unit - and what it would do to them... As for me. Its 20 years? I still have not got over it..."