Star World's Rendezvous with Simi Garewal has climbed the popularity chart so fast for a perfectly good reason. Time after time, the Lady in White Simi Garewal, has managed to rope in filmstars and celebrities for an absolutely honest heart-to-heart, which unravels their true nature.
This time around, Garewal has pulled off a coup in Rendezvous.... In October, she will broadcast a show with the entire Bachchan family- the legendary Amitabh Bachchan, his wife Jaya, son Abhishek and daughter Shweta.
The Bachchan Special will be spread over two episodes. On 5 October, the kids will be featured - their childhood jokes, their pranks, their growing up years included. The second episode, covering the entire family, will be telecast on 12 October. The show culminates into a celebration of Bachchan senior's 61st birthday on the sets. (His birthday falls on October 11).
Vickey Lalwani caught up with this graceful woman for an insight into her interviews, that so decorously bring out the flavours of the celebs. Excerpts:
How did you manage to pull off an interview with the entire Bachchan family?
The four Bachchans together is definitely special. For the host as well as for the viewer. I have interviewed Jaya and Amitabh Bachchan earlier. I have interviewed Abhishek solo. To get them all in front of the camera on one show was enthralling.
Today, Amitabh is the busiest actor in the industry and Abhishek is also working round the clock. It's really commendable that they took time off from their hectic schedules and accepted my invitation.
Shweta flew in (from Delhi) specially for the show after I invited her. This is the first time she will has face the camera. The show is special, no doubt.
What is the Bachchan Special all about?
It's purely about the family. How they interact with each other, their inter-personal equation, the jokes within the family, the difficult situations they have been besieged with and how they have stood up and faced those.
Amitabh and Jaya discuss bringing up Shweta and Abhishek. They talk about everything - right from their childhood, all the way till yesterday when Amitabh celebrated his 61st birthday.
"The Bachchan Special is purely about the family - their inter-personal equation, the jokes within the family..."
So, it would be a revelation of sorts? We'd know new things about the celebrated family?
Yes. Like, Amitabh's relationship with his son compared to his relationship with his father, Harivanshrai Bachchan. We also speak about the brother-sister relationship between Abhishek and Shweta. There is a very strong bond between them.
At the end, one will see that theirs is a very contemporary family but with lots of values.
Is it true that the family is very strict and conservative?
That's what people believe. In fact, Amitabh says in the show that "people think we lead a very dormitory kind of existence which is a fallacy". He says, they have lots of fun in the family - they cry, joke and laugh like any other normal family.
What else did you discuss in the show that you thought was heart-wrenching?
I asked Amitabh about the accident on the sets of the movie Coolie. I asked Jaya what she underwent? Were the kids told about the gravity of the situation? And Jaya broke down. That was very moving.
"I don't insist on a certain question, if my guest is not comfortable with it"
Did you talk about the failure of Abhishek's films at the box-office?
I did. Amitabh has his own view on that. He said that people keep saying Abhishek is lucky to have the Big B as his father, he has not undergone a struggle - maybe they are justified, but that does not mean he will cut down on what he gives to his son.
Did you ask them about Abhishek's engagement?
I didn't. When this show goes on air, Karisma Kapoor, his ex-fiancee, would already be married.
The question would have been in bad taste, under such circumstances. But in Abhishek's solo interview which came sometime ago, we spoke on this at length.
Several personalities have opened their hearts in your show and let out their inner emotions. How do you manage it?
I don't know how to answer that. You will have to ask them. There's no strategy. I think I am genuinely interested and involved with my guests. I can't interview somebody I am not fascinated with.
In other words, all the people you have seen on my show till date have fascinated me in some way or the other. But I never insist on a certain question if I see that my guest is not comfortable with it, or is trying to evade it.
I strongly feel that every person has a right to his/her privacy. As an interviewer, I don't like to push, if someone does not want to answer a particular question.
"I go to extreme lengths to prepare for my interviews. I read the oldest magazines and surf for every bit of information available on the Net"
How did you actually conceive Rendezvous?
I used to see a lot of talk shows and often found the hosts to be very hard-hitting. I often felt that they are doing more talking than the guest.
I decided that if I ever get a chance to interview a person, I would make the person so comfortable that he opens up. Today other hosts are following my style. Karan Thapar has adopted the Rendezvousstyle in a show on BBC.
Which show of yours do you hold closest to your heart?
I have done films, made some of the most talked about documentaries on Rajeev Gandhi, Benazir Bhutto and Raj Kapoor.
I have done Rendezvous with so many personalities now. It has become difficult to choose. But if you insist, I still think the Jayalalitha and Maneka Gandhi episodes were special.
How do you manage the research for 'Rendezvous'?
Oh, I go to extreme lengths. I read the oldest magazines to prepare my questions. I don't miss even a single magazine where my interviewee's articles were published in the past. I go through everything available on the Internet about him/her. It is then that I work out my questions.
My next step is to talk to the prospective guest's school teachers and friends, relatives, acquaintances and associates who can add some depth to the interview. This way, I know the flow of questions exactly, the areas of the interviewee's life which I wish to explore. Only then, I am confident that I can handle the show in my own way.
I shoot a great deal and then edit the show to the required length. My own home has a state of the art editing studio, which is fully computerised. I love computers and use them for work and leisure as well.
Is white your favourite colour?
I have always believed that white or soft colours create an atmosphere of peace and tranquillity. I designed my own home and even the sets of my show with this concept of peace in mind.
The sets of the show are almost a replica of my terrace. We have recreated the terrace in a studio and kept it there on permanent basis.
What next after the Bachchan Special?
Preity Zinta and Rani Mukherjee.