By Suhel Johar


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Tamil cinema's `numero uno' actress Simran has been in the news about her affair with actor Kamal Hassan. Initially both of them vehemently denied it. Then a tragedy struck. Simran's younger sister Monal, (actress) committed suicide. To dispel rumours about her sister's death, she conducted a press conference that turned bizarre. The actress blamed a choreographer and Mumtaz and her secretary for all her troubles. Mumtaz retaliated by accusing her of various misdemeanours. Simran vacated her house in Chennai and flew to Mumbai.

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Shifting to Mumbai did the trick for her as she is more at peace with herself now and probably much happier, too. Simran, who is shuttling between Mumbai - where her parents live - and Chennai, is living in Kamal's house. Kamal Hassan has finally dumped the second woman in his life. Sarika, who stormed into Kamal's life nearly 20 years ago, and took the man from his wife Vani Ganapathy, found history repeating itself. After Sarika moved out along with daughters, Shruthi and Akshara, to a flat in Raja Annamalaipuram almost six months ago, Simran moved in with bag and baggage in Kamal's house.

Interestingly, Kamal is not planning to marry Simran. It will just be a live-in relationship because his plans to divorce Sarika had to be shelved after the latter did not agree to Kamal's conditions. It is reported that Kamal was prepared to pay Rs three crore to his wife as alimony but his only condition was that his two daughters be allowed to pursue their education and not be made to act in films. The apartment that Sarika has hired is a couple of minutes' drive from Kamal's house. Kamal sends Sarika money on the first of every month. Sarika did not agree to Kamal's condition for the divorce because she wants to assert her independence.

The romantic liasion between Kamal and Simran has shocked not only Kamal and Sarika's friends and families but also even Simran's because Kamal(52) is twice her age. Nobody even knows the real reason for the break -up between Kamal and Sarika. The reason could be more than Simran because all these years it did not seem like Kamal had intentions of ditching Sarika for another woman. Things just happened that way.

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In fact a few months ago Kamal was so peeved at barbs made at him in the media for his affair with Simran that he was all geared up to pen his autobiography. It was his way of getting back at journalists who had written stories about his extra-marital affair with Simran and how Sarika and Kamal had decided to call it quits. "If I come out with the truth, the press will look like a fool," was what he had said at a press conference in Mumbai. One wonders if he still intends to write his autobiography and come clean. Recently, Simran was in Mumbai for a party that was thrown in by her mentor in Bollywood. She answered a few questions that were put to her in an informal chat.

You seem to keep falling in and out of love?

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I am a professional in the entertainment industry where a girl has to be attractive and glamorous. So when a guy falls in love with an actress he has to realise that she has her own screen image of a sex goddess. Suddenly the guy turns around and starts interfering in her career. He then loses trust in her and tries to change her while she is still the same old person.

Now that you have chosen to live a life on your own terms, how peaceful is your state of mind?

My state of mind has always been peaceful. I do have mood swings but no one is perfect, still my mind is strong and tough.

Are you very impulsive by nature?

I am not very impulsive by nature, but I don't like people forcing me to do this and that.

What about your relationship with Kamal Hassan?

He is an excellent person and the living legend of Indian cinema. I am in awe of his acting calibre and his movies. I don't think that anybody has the passion and discipline that he brings forward in his roles. He has given me encouragement, but I don't think I will be able to achieve even one third of what he has achieved.

How could you define your relationship?

I treat him as my mentor and I respect him as a senior. I am trying to learn things from him to make my career more meaningful. He is a great person and a good friend.

Is marriage on the cards?

I don't have any plans to get married in the near future.

Meanwhile Sarika, a talented costume designer who did Kamal's costumes in his movies and who got a National Award for her costumes in 'Hey Ram', is being increasingly seen in social circles. Sarika is also designing costumes for Chennai-based theater group, Madras Players' production Ashwaha. She intends to get fulltime into costume designing.


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