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When she entered the glamour world at a little over five years, Taruni Sachdeva dreamt of becoming a heroine one day. "Uncle, I want to do the heroine's role in your film," Taruni told director Vinayan who introduced her to films in 2004. But the girl's dreams were cut short when she was killed in Monday's plane crash in Nepal. Her mother Geeta, who was travelling with her, also died in the mishap.
The two were part of a group of Indians who had chartered the Agni Air flight for a pilgrimage to Muktinath in Nepal.
The vivacious Taruni, who became one of the most popular faces on television, had won the hearts of her directors and fellow actors, right from Amitabh Bachchan, with whom she had shared screen space in both ads and a film, to Karishma Kapoor. It was in an ad film where director Vinayan first spotted her and chose her for his Malayalam film. Vinayan said, "I saw her in an advertisement with Mr Amitabh Bachchan. I got her number from the agency and called her. When her mother Geeta handed the phone to her, Taruni said, 'uncle, I want to act in films'. She was an extraordinary child, full of life. She was always with me all through . It is shocking that she is no more." Vinayan is so fond of the child that he has even posted his photograph with her on a social networking site.
A couple of months ago, Taruni was in Kerala shooting for a commercial. Vinayan said, "From there, she called me up to tell me that she wanted to be in my film. I told her that we will definitely meet to speak about it. She said, 'Thank you, uncle'. And those were her last words to me."
Taruni was probably the first 11-year-old to have played the Big B's girlfriend in a movie. Abhishek Bachchan, who was an assistant director of Paa, only had words of praise for the girl, who would play around the sets and chat with everyone. "She was a brilliant kid. She was not only a good actor but also a well-informed child who had knowledge about everything that was happening around the world," he said.
Amitabh Bachchan tweeted: "Just reading that Tarini Sachdev the girl child artiste in Paa, has perished in Nepal plane crash. Please God may this not be." Abhishek also posted on the micro blogging site: "SHOCKED and very saddened to hear about the Nepal plane crash. Lost 1 of my cutest co-stars. Little Taruni Sachdev from PAA. Speechless."
Like the Bachchans, others known to Taruni and her family are yet to come to terms with the tragedy. R Balki, who directed Paa and also shot many commercials with Taruni, did not have any words to describe his feelings. "I will not be able to talk," he said. "She was a lovely vibrant child," is how Karishma describes Taruni; Karishma featured in the very popular Rasna advertisement, which made Taruni a household face.
According to those in the film industry, Taruni was not only a good actor but also a very bright student and her mother always made sure that she never neglected her studies. Line producer of Paa Anita Manchanda said, "Her mother was strict about her studies and would make her sit with her books on the sets, during shoot breaks." Manchanda fondly remembers how during breaks, Taruni would frolic around the sets and her mother would sometimes have to "rein in her make her sit down". "But at the same time, she was a very diplomatic kid who knew how to handle both the young and the old. There were times when boys on the sets would try to trouble her but she tackled them so well that they ended up liking her."
The last rites of child artist Taruni Sachdev, who died in a plane crash in Nepal, were performed here Wednesday evening.
Her body was brought to Mumbai from Kathmandu through cargo along with her mother's body at 3 p.m. The funeral took place at Santa Cruz (West) cremation ground at 5.30 p.m. Her mother was also cremated at the same time.
Taruni was among 13 Indians who were killed when an aircraft crashed into a hill while coming in to land at Jomsom in western Nepal.