Rekha breaks her silence on TV

In what is being seen as a media coup, the reclusive Rekha will appear on the classy TV talk show "Rendezvous With Simi Garewal".

Rekha, who has never appeared on satellite television, not even to promote her films, was coaxed out of her shell by the enterprising Simi.

The 90-minute programme in two parts will run through Rekha's entire life, beginning from childhood. About 20 minutes of precious playing time is devoted to the actress talking about Amitabh Bachchan and the impact he has on her life.

Says Simi: "This is going to be my 110th episode and it was one of my toughest ones. We go through Rekha's transition from childhood to adolescence when she joined movies, then adulthood, marriage, widowhood, then the influence of Bachchan and her search for her father."

It will be telecast on June 5 and June 13.

"Rekha has constantly refused to come on television. And at the end of my 'Rendezvous', she says this will be her only TV interview.

"I've known Rekha for 20 years. The very first television interview that I ever did was the very first (and last) TV interview she ever did, and that was for Doordarshan's 'It's A Woman's World'. The show was ahead of its times, too glamorous."

As the current series of "Rendezvous" comes to an end, Simi has every reason to feel satisfied with the rapid progress that her show made.

"People want it to go on. I haven't decided what to do. But, let me tell you, I've enjoyed every moment of the seven-year experience.

"Specially memorable have been my interviews with the Bachchans, individually and as a family. Interviewing the whole Bachchan family together was a unique experience. They had never been seen together on television before.

"I also loved interviewing A.R Rahman, Waheeda Rehman and most recently Dev Anand. I've learnt something from everybody I've interviewed."

"Rendezvous With Simi Garewal" has changed the way people look at celebrity chat shows.

Simi laughs: "I suppose you're right. When colleagues start doing their shows like yours, obviously the style has worked. It's very flattering. But I must tell you 'Rendezvous' isn't just a talk show. For example, Dev Anand's interview was a whole life on TV. My actual work begins after my guest is gone. Then begins the real job of editing the precious thoughts together."

Does it help being a colleague to many guests? "Not at all. It makes it more difficult. I know the guest. But how do I project him or her to viewers? I much prefer to talk to people I've never met. I started the show in 1997. Believe me, I've changed so much as a human being.

"I've learnt the most from Dev Anand. He has taught me how to deal with my life. Now I speak to him regularly. I'm not going to lose him. He's one of his kind."

It's almost become a status symbol to be on "Rendezvous". The hostess laughs: "I'm glad if people think so. I've worked really hard on the selection of guests and the quality of the show . I am not ready to compromise on these at any cost."

As "Rendezvous With Simi Garewal" completes 100 episodes, Star Plus will throw an exclusive party June 12 for "Rendezvous" guests.

The party at the Taj Lands End will be a sentimental journey for Simi Garewal. Fashion designer Tarun Tahilani is designing the ballroom in white. Part of the "Rendezvous" set will be recreated at the venue. Each invitation card will be handmade. The food and wine will be top-of-the-line.