Simi Garewal: Turned it down for moral reasons

Updated: Dec 13, 2019, 09:36 IST | Mohar Basu | Mumbai

As makers of Ramya Krishnan-starrer web series Queen inspired by Jayalalithaa, recreate politician's 1999 tell-all interview with Simi Garewal, the iconic host explains why she refused to reprise her part

File footage of Garewal's interview with Jayalalithaa
File footage of Garewal's interview with Jayalalithaa

Ramya Krishnan-starrer Queen — which tells the story of Shakthi Sheshadri, a reluctant actor who goes on to dominate the world of politics — bears striking similarities with the journey of J Jayalalithaa, the former chief minister of Tamil Nadu. Now, mid-day has learnt that directors Gautham Vasudev Menon and Prasath Murugesan have recreated her tell-all interview on Simi Garewal's show, Rendezvous With Simi Garewal, for their digital outing. Turns out, the makers initially approached the iconic host to reprise her part for the web series, but she turned down the offer.

Acknowledging that Garewal was his first choice for the role, Menon tells mid-day, "We wanted the interviewer on the show to be able to connect with Shakthi and bring out the most candid aspects of her life. Who better than Simi Garewal to do so? Her ability to empathise with the guests made her the perfect fit. However, it didn't work out. We eventually cast Lillete Dubey. She makes for a great talk show host."

Simi GarewalSimi Garewal. Pic/ AFP

The charismatic politician's 1999 interview remains her most significant dialogue, where she candidly spoke about pining for her mother's attention as a child, being one of the "most criticised" public figures and her tempestuous equation with MG Ramachandran. It was evident that the fiercely private leader had let her guard down when she sang one of her favourite numbers, Aaja sanam (Chori Chori), with the host.

Lillete Dubey and Ramya Krishnan in Queen

On her part, Garewal cherishes her heartfelt chat with Jayalalithaa and says it felt morally wrong to recreate it. "The makers called my office a few times, but it seemed wrong to enact my interview with a person who is no longer [with us]. It was out of the question because it would look forced, and it would be lowering my standard. I have my moral reasons to turn it down. But it is, in no way, reflective of the quality of the show. I wish the makers success in retelling the story of one of the most indomitable women of our times."

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