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The man who used to say Grover Never Over is no more!

It is sad but true that at 87, producer-publicist Raaj Grover is really Over.



Raaj Grover (in the middle)

By Jyothi Venkatesh

I will sorely miss the presence and laughter of my good old friend the veteran producer- Alas! Publicist Raaj Grover, who passed away on 4th June in Old Bridge, New Jersey (USA), the day the election results were declared in India. He was 87. He died peacefully in his sleep. His health had been fine. Raaj had shifted to the USA many years back. He kept coming to India on short trips to keep in touch with his friends in the film industry.

A very jovial person, Raaj Grover’s vivacious trademark laughter, after almost every sentence he spoke, was legendary. He was a great friend of not only me but also my senior colleague Ali Peter John. Raaj used to invariably say, “Grover never over.” He is survived by his wife (my one and only wife, as he used to chuckle) and children.

Raaj had produced Taaqat, starring Vinod Khanna, Parveen Babi and Raakhee. He had also co-produced Arya with Tirlok Malik. He had produced Thikana, starring Anil Kapoor, Amrita Singh and Smita Patil, jointly with Paul Arora and V.B. Soni. He had recently also written a book, The Legends of Bollywood. Raaj was handling the publicity of films like Utsav, Kaala Aadmi, Ek Se Badhkar Ek, Himalay Se Ooncha, Anhonee and Victoria Nom 203.

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Raaj used to have this habit of gifting everyone who he knew in one capacity or the other whenever he visited Mumbai. I still remember the wrist watch that he had gifted me and the lovely bottle of perfume that he gifted my wife who he used to call his daughter in law. Way back in the 70’s, I was just a junior freelance journalist when Raaj Grover was a senior PR man who worked for celebrities like Sunil Dutt and Nargis Dutt, and other stars. It was Raaj who gave Zarina Wahab not only a place to live in his house when she came out of the FTII and had no shelter in the city. Raaj Grover even got her the first break of her career in Rajshri’s “Chitchor” which was the beginning of her career as an actress.

Raaj had a very close relationship with one and all associated with the industry, whether it was ‘Kaka”, the restaurant owner who was known for his large heart which made him feed struggling stars like Shashi Kapoor, Raaj Grover himself and above all Dharmendra for whom he took a strong liking and is said to have even lent twenty rupees to report for the recording of his very first film, “Dil Bhi Tere Hum Bhi Tere” and which started a relationship between the two which made Kaka a part of Dharmendra’s family and was a must guest at all the family events in the Deol family and at all the events associated with Dharam’s career which included the muhurats  of Dharam’s sons’, Sunny and Bobby’s first films- Betaab and Barsaat respectively.

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The presence of legends like Dharmendra, Prem Chopra, Tabassum, Ranjeet, Mahesh Bhatt and even the Younger Zarina Wahab at the Title Waves, one of the best book shops in Mumbai showed how much they respected Raaj Grover who had spent the best years of his life with them and for them. He however had all his memories about people and events intact and a few years ago he decided to put down his memories in writing and first started writing in Urdu and decided to call his memoirs “Yaadein Zara Zara”.

Every time he used to land in India, he used to make it a point to help someone or the other. I remember he was promoting a young actor called Prashant. I do not know what happened to him though at one time he was talking to me once in a blue moon regarding some film or the other that he had signed.

Raaj Grover’s decision turned into an obsession and he made three trips to India to see that all was going well with his passion. It could have been easy to understand his passion if he was doing it for money, but Raaj Grover was a man who had grown up on certain high ideals and it was one of these ideals that made him write the book in an effort to see that every rupee that came out of the sales of his books would go to the help of cancer patients and sought the support of Priya Dutt, the daughter of Sunil and Nargis Dutt who was now in-charge of the Nargis Dutt Foundation for cancer. Arrangements were also made to see that a part of the proceeds would go to the Begum Khannum Hospital for cancer built by the Prime Minister of Pakistan, the former cricketer as a tribute to his mother who had died of cancer.

It is sad but true that at 87, Raajji the Grover is really Over.

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