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'Soli Sir, My Jolly Old Friend': Republic's Rhythm Anand Bhardwaj Remembers Soli Sorabjee

Soli Sir was my 4 PM friend. He used to call at that time, ask the news of the day, laugh with amusement at it, and ask me to drop in. He was kind and caring.

Soli Sorabjee

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Soli Sir, my jolly old friend.

No visit to Soli's house was complete without a cup of tea, laughter and positive chatter. Always a twinkle in his eyes, he used to enquire about news, anchors, and gossip.

When I interviewed him at his Niti Bagh residence, he used to wait in anticipation to see when he would come on air. He used to ask if he was dressed properly, (in earlier years) about his tie, and later his cap. If I told him it was a live show he used to tell Purshottam (his help) to turn on the TV. Purushottam, of course, was the worst choice to switch it on. My VJ  used to oblige.
After this entire scene when he came on air, there had to be pin-drop silence. Each word was heard with complete concentration, and then when it ended, we would be rewarded with a delightful beaming smile and a question - "was it ok?"

Soli used to have a beautiful celebration on his birthday, on 9 March, at IIC each year. It used to start with an email invite and then his call, "Hello Rhythm, Soli here, my dear, it's my birthday, will you come?" That was Soli for me, childlike innocence, simple and so brave.  

He was my 4 PM friend. He used to call at that time, ask the news of the day, laugh with amusement at it, and ask me to drop in. He was kind and caring.

Soli Sir believed Law was a service to the Nation. He had a gentleness and integrity the Bar will miss.

ACHIEVEMENTS

He was a proud Parsi from Bombay, honoured with Padma Vibhushan for his tremendous work, defending human rights and freedom of speech. Soli Sorabjee was twice the Attorney General of India, which is a big achievement. During the Emergency, he was a strong defender of human rights and free press. He appeared in landmark constitutional cases that laid the law of the country, Keshavanand Bharti and SR Bommai cases being notable examples. He also fought for 1984 anti-Sikh riots victims pro bono. He was a member of various UN bodies and international organisations, including the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague.

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I met him last before his birthday, He was frail in body, sharp in mind.

He was weak, but wanted to know the latest news. He said that the bones gave him trouble. I think he missed being out of the house, more than anything else.

I asked him once in an interview, what his ideal day was. He thought, simply smiled and said, "To be surrounded by good books, good music and good friends."

I know you are, Soli.

I shall miss your 4 PM calls, my jolly old friend.

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