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By Priyam Saha in Skkreen! - On

Most of us have grown up witnessing Saturdays with Shaktiman. We grew up some more and were faced with the shiny lighted world of cable TV and eventually saw what came to be called the ‘Oprah of Indian TV’. Yes, the show in question is Rendezvous with Simi Garewal.

I, for one, remember spending most of my Sundays since 1988 awe struck by the sheer elegance, dignity and magnitude of White that Simi epitomized. Even in my days of broken English, she always made sense because she seemingly spoke the language of warmth. Who would have thought that the pretty but highly mediocre actor from the 70’s would find her true calling in interviewing, mostly, her contemporaries and sometimes the young guns of the industry? The impact couldn’t be missed across all the seasons of her show. With it’s runs and reruns, it left a beautiful taste along with sweet memories as to what it was…

Cut to 2011. Simi strikes again. This time in a fresh new avatar. The shades of Black and Cream have also found way in Simi’s otherwise undisputed all White attire. It’s just as same as her Rendezvous days yet equally different: Simi Selects India’s Most Desirable. However, there’s a slight catch; not that she was ever 20 in her Rendezvous days, but she is 64 now! I don’t mean to demean her or say that she’s too old to be doing a fun chat show, but it’s true.

In a day and age where the top rated reality shows are abusive and crass and where songs with lyrics like DK Bose are raking in all the moolah, Simi’s composure seems rather dated. What is worse is that she, apparently, seems to be thinking that she needs to be in sync with the times and hence has packed up her elegant demeanour, only with half success. So now she stands for that creepy old convent lady who tries too hard to be funny for the creeped out kids.. True Story.

The first episode with Ranbir Kapoor was painful to watch, to say the least. The fact that he behaved like a coy dulhan throughout the show didn’t help matters. Whatever happened to the fun Ranbir from Koffee days who was okay with laughing at himself and was not trying so hard to be politically correct. Sigh. The episode seemed like an ‘image protection and rebuilding programme’ endorsed by not only Ranbir in his answers but also his parents in their bytes in the show.

The next ‘most desirable’ was Deepika Padukone, who I am not a fan of anyway. Her code of conduct, too, was primarily that of a blushing bride. Every time there was a mention of The Siddhartha Mallaya, she would literally turn into the colour of her dress : red. Simi on that particular episode couldn’t hide her overt excitement about the thought of hooking Deepika and Siddhartha up in holy matrimony.

Looking back, one might think that maybe the blushing was a set guideline for all guests at the show.

Nothing else explains the identical behavior, really.

Next up was Siddhartha Mallaya, son of the King Of Good Times, Vijay Mallaya. I have always found the latter so much more desirable than the former, but that’s another story. Siddhartha had never struck me as anything more than a hyped rich son, but that sort of changed with this particluar episode, The one time when the guest did not behave like a blushing bride saw Simi visibly uncomfortable and disapproving. He saw no qualms in saying that he’s open to relationships of all kinds; Simi didn’t seem to agree. The one good thing about Simi’s displeasure, however, was that it kept her from throwing her hands in the air every second, laughing about something deeply inconsequential and saying something terribly stupid. I think Simi owes Mallaya one.

Apart from the usual affair, Simi makes them play random games, comes up with tasks like baking cookies etc, has a tarot card reading section and has the audience asking the guest questions in one segment. Is it just me or does that really show for her lack of content, hence?

Simi Selects India’s Most Desirable fills the slot that Rendezvous’ step brother Koffee With Karan left only a few weeks back. Hence, a comparison is reflexive. Where one is totally bitchy, and sometimes even inappropriate, Simi’s is a desperate and rather failed attempt at embracing all that is new with the notions of the old deeply intact. Why Simi didn’t let us live in the memories of her glorious days and sabotaged it herself without any external help, is beyond me. Coming up, there are still people like Sonakshi Sinha, Freida Pinto and John Abraham waiting to be celebrated for their apparent desirability quotient.

Till then, one can only wish Simi the best of luck for the future episodes for old time’s sake, because really, in true Simi tone, India’s Most Desirable is India’s Most Boring..


Priyam Saha

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