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Man of substance

He leaves behind a legacy, which tells the story of a man who could have got anything he wanted but chose to lead a low-key existence after his retirement from TOI, writes Pankaj Vohra.

india Updated: Sep 10, 2007 23:46 IST
Pankaj Vohra

Mohammad Shamim was perhaps the only journalist whom Rajiv and Sanjay Gandhi addressed as ‘Sir’. He was Indira Gandhi’s close confidant, but never used this proximity to promote himself. Shamim saab, as he was called, was a man of unimpeachable integrity.



One would imagine that when someone like him passes away, there would be obituaries and tributes. But no such thing happened after his death on August 31. He leaves behind a legacy, which tells the story of a man who could have got anything he wanted but chose to lead a low-key existence after his retirement from

The Times of India

.



Shamim was a great political commentator and an outstanding film critic. His knowledge of local affairs was unmatched. His weekly round-up of parliamentary debates is still talked about. Shamim would not only sum up the politics but also the agenda of the parties. <b1>



Though he came from a family that had close ties with the Nehru-Gandhis, Shamim never boasted of his connections. Indira Gandhi trusted him so much that she had directed her staff to let Shamim in whenever he came to see her. On many occasions, she would listen to him even if it meant disregarding views of her colleagues. Her logic: Shamim had no vested interest and would never give her wrong advice. Knowing that her younger son, Sanjay, held Shamim in high esteem, Indira Gandhi would often ask the latter to talk to Sanjay. There were occasions when Sanjay would not meet anyone else but Shamim. Rajiv Gandhi also showed similar affection.



He never minced his words in his reviews both for the

TOI

and later the

Hindu

. Even his peers, including filmfare editor B.K. Karanjia, acknowledged Shamim’s cover story on Guru Dutt after his demise as a great piece. His tiff with Rajendra Kumar led to the media boycotting the superstar for more than a month. Shamim was a man whom even Bollywood feared. It is not easy to forget someone like Shamim. He was a man who had a positive influence on anyone who met him. Journalism is poorer with his passing away.

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