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Sonia-Rajiv Gandhi's brave love story now comes alive in film

Telly actor Karanvir Bohra to produce and star in a short film that chronicles former Prime Minister, late Rajiv Gandhi and wife Sonia Maino's journey to make a life together

Karanvir and Pooja recreate a moment that Sonia-Rajiv were captured in

Despite being in the limelight by virtue of his strong political lineage, not very much is known about former Prime Minister, late Rajiv Gandhi's love affair with wife Sonia Maino. Citing a lack in effort to chronicle their love story, television actor Karanvir Bohra is set to produce and star in a short film titled 'Ijazat', which traces the romance of a young man belonging to one of India's most privileged families, and the daughter of a soldier from Veneto in Northeast Italy, with dreams of learning English and becoming a flight attendant.

It's a story of conviction and determined love as two young people from disparate corners of the world, meet and fight family apprehension and cultural differences to make a life together.


Karanvir Bohra

"This [short] is a tribute to them. We have fictionalised a few things, though. There is no political agenda to grab eyeballs. It is a simple film, made to create a different [kind of] content for audiences. I'm an actor, but sometimes, you come across an idea that you don't wish to wait for someone to back," he says.

Karanvir, a well known name on TV, currently stars in the popular soap, 'Naagin 2', and admits that he will have to invest most of his earnings from the show into this film.

It was an episode of Simi  chat show, featuring the late Rajiv, that stuck with the actor. "I was browsing the Internet and stumbled on this episode. I was mesmerised by his demeanour. It was heartening to hear how he spoke about Soniaji."

Rajiv, the older son of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and an aspiring pilot, was studying engineering at Trinity College, Cambridge, in the early 1960s. He met Sonia at a restaurant frequented by students and most reports say it didn't take the attractive two to fall in love. When Rajiv finally arrives to the Maino home in Orbassano, he makes it clear he wishes to marry Sonia, but her father Paulo is far from ready. Meanwhile, Indira is a share apprehensive too, although understanding of their love, given her own marriage to a man outside of her caste and religion. When they decide to marry in 1968, Paolo chooses not to travel to India to give away his daughter, sending his brother instead to a simple wedding at the lawns of the Gandhi residence.


Sonia Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi

Karanvir says his film kicks off from the time the two meet. "I admired the way he [Rajiv] spoke about mustering the courage to ask his mother Indira Gandhiji, for permission [to marry]," says the actor, adding that it's Rajiv's meeting with Indira to discuss his love for Sonia that's the film's defining moment.

 For the actor, a subject dating back to the late '60s holds intrigue because films based in that era aren't scripted often. "I've been fascinated with classic love stories from the '50s and '60s. Some love stories are eternal. The old-world charm [of this film] will intrigue the youth, I think."

The short, which will release on YouTube, will include an English and Italian version. Priya Banerjee, last seen in Sanjay Gupta's Jazbaa (2015), will play the role of Sonia Maino, who became president of the Indian National Congress Party in 1998. "It is a beautiful concept. When Karanvir offered the role to me, I instantly agreed," says the actress.

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