One thing about Rishi Kapoor that has stayed with you?
My most recurring memory of Chintu is his sense of humour. He could make me laugh like no one else, literally till tears poured out of my eyes! I’ve known Chintu since he was a kid, maybe when he was 9 or 10. During ‘Mera Naam Joker‘ he was playful, always bunking school and full of pranks, but he was blessed with an innocent face, so he got away with outrageous things. He was generous to a fault; you just had to mention a book or a perfume, and he would move heaven and earth to get it for you.
What is that one thing that you miss the most about him?
We both had a passion for word games. And even now, when I find a good game, I find myself thinking ’Oh I must send this to Chintu…’.
Do you remember your last conversation with him?
Chintu was very fond of my sister Amrita, and she and I literally prayed for his health at the gurudwara while he was in NY. Neetu knew about it and kept messaging me, writing, ‘Keep praying Simi’. I met him last at the Bachchans’ 2019 Diwali party and he broke through the crowds to come and hug us. He looked so good; he was slim and glowing! We talked with great affection from both sides that night. That was our last meeting.
Are you in touch with Neetu Kapoor and Ranbir?
Yes, very much. I spoke to Neetu for a long time on the phone when she was taking care of Chintu at the hospital in Mumbai. It was during the lockdown last year and she had been isolated and alone in the hospital for a month. She wept as she told me how weak he had become. The next day he died. I haven’t met Neetu or Ranbir due to the lockdowns, but we share text messages, and we share a great mutual love. Ranbir always replies promptly; he is a beautiful person and I adore him.
Neetu has returned to work…
I’m so happy that she has returned to films. She has far too much talent for it to be wasted. Apart from being a wonderful actor, I also think Neetu is a remarkable role model. I can’t forget how she stood by Chintu, nursed him during his most difficult health crises, night and day, and how, through all the years, she always stood there beside him. I can’t wait to watch her onscreen.
You have been a close family friend of the Kapoors, which has recently witnessed so many tragedies…
Yes, I have known the Kapoors since I came to Mumbai, when I was 15. They have always been like an extended family for me. And like a family, I have revelled with them in their victories and wept with them in their tragedies. They have been through a lot recently and my heart goes out to Randhir Kapoor, who has shouldered the passing away of his three closest–Krishna ji, Rishi, and now Rajiv. It has been too hard…