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'We were mischievous as monkeys'

I like everything about you. You are good-looking. From within too - Simran


When Simran was 16, Deepak went down on one knee and declared his love for her. She turned down the proposal. Deepak was even denied her friendship as a career in acting brought her down South. There was little chance that the two would meet again, let alone marry each other. But destiny and cupid proved otherwise. While the former brought the childhood friends together, the latter did the rest. The couple recently took S. R. Ashok Kumar down memory lane.

Deepak: Do you remember the times we spent together as children?

Simran: Vividly! (with a soft glow in her eyes) I used to look forward to the summer vacation when I would be bundled off to my aunt's house in Delhi. Your family were my aunt's neighbours and we used to be part of a group of kids who were as mischievous as a truckload of monkeys. Hey, do you remember that the two of us used to confide in each other? (Deepak nods)

Then we grew up and trod different paths...

Yes. After I became an actress I had little time and even less reason to visit Delhi. And as someone who worked in the airlines, you were leading an air-borne existence (laughs). You had no time for us terrestrials (laughs again).

Hey, you seem to conveniently forget that I declared my love for you when you were 16 and that you cruelly turned down my proposal.

I was then a starry-eyed kid who lived in a world that always seemed new and exciting. I felt we had a long way to go. We had to make something of ourselves. Did I not tell you that? Actually, I said more. I remember every word of it. I said, `Deepak, you will soon enter college and meet other girls and may even take a liking to one of them and I will be nothing more than a faint memory as I will be living far away in Mumbai.' You seemed convinced by my logic.

No, I was not. However, I was convinced that you were the one for me. I knew it in my bones that you liked me as much as I loved you.

Yes. I did. But at that time I would not let anybody know it. I even hid it from myself. I did not even realise that I was doing this. As you did not propose to me again, it was easy for me to bury my feelings for you.

Despite the long separation, we are now together again, man and wife. Doesn't all this seem stranger than the storyline of the mushiest film you have acted in?

Yes, it does (laughs). Our story is proof that life can sometimes be stranger than fiction. Looking back, even meeting you again seems such a miracle let alone marrying you. In January 2003, I was in Delhi to perform at the Bharathiya Pravasiya Diwas function. On a lark, I decided to call on my old friends there. That decision took me to you. I did not realise how much that meeting was going to change my life.

We were sailing in the same boat when we met last year, weren't we?

Absolutely. I was feeling an emptiness that I could not articulate. I did not even know what caused it. I only knew this much - that fame and money could not fill that void. I realised that I had walked alone for long, and could not do so anymore without the crutch of someone who loved me for myself. Even my parents felt it was high time I got married.

Around that time my parents were also worried about my marriage. They were after me with their "it's-time-you-settled-down" remonstrations. Whenever they broached the subject, I would think of you. Then, wonder of wonders, I was looking into your eyes once again. The eyes of the little girl I had known years ago. I saw a gorgeous woman who was also beautiful from within. (Simran blushes)

And we had no problem walking into each other's arms. What I had been blind to at 16, I could now see clearly. And for the first time, I declared to myself the true feelings I had for you. I have come across and worked with many men in the film industry, but I have never felt this way about any of them. When I saw you that day, I told myself that this was the man I would like to grow old with.

Tell me, Simran, what do you particularly like about me?

I like everything about you. You are good-looking (laughs). From within too.

But you did not find me good-looking enough when we were teenagers! Don't forget that you rejected me!

Why do you have to keep rubbing it in. (Ruffling his hair) We were kids then and that's why I said `no' to your proposal. Answering your question, it's your large-heartedness that I like the most about you. Accepting an actress as a wife is in itself a big thing and you have done that.

I suppose Providence wanted us to be together.

We got engaged on May 4. However, I kept our engagement under wraps. The media had got me married so many times. For this reason, I wanted to keep them in the dark about my real marriage (laughs).

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