The life and death of Gaurav Tiwari.
A woman in her early 20s lies upside down on the couch, her eyes rolling, a guttural, incongruous cackle echoing from her throat. Interspersed with these menacing sounds: gleeful bursts of “ab main yahaan se nahi jaaongi!”.
The clip looked real. Gaurav Tiwari – India’s most famous paranormal investigator – showed it to me on his phone. That was in January 2016. I didn’t know it then, but it would be the last time we’d ever meet.
I knew Gaurav for about six years. My initially assessment of him was less than flattering — I grouped him with “healers,” “psychics,” and “mediums.” Fakers.
At the time, I was working as a producer for a leading youth channel. We were developing a horror reality show, which put me into contact with the aforementioned parade of paranormal gatekeepers.
Out of the many we auditioned, Gaurav and G.R.I.P (Ghost Research and Investigation of the Paranormal) stood out. He and two others from his team seemed credible to us – a team of certified paranormal investigators who could scientifically document the existence of paranormal energies in haunted locations, thereby scaring the crap out of our hot contestants.
But I thanked every God I know the first night I saw Gaurav in action: well past midnight in a haunted Rajasthani village called Kuldhara. While the rest of us melted in fear, Gaurav took control of the possible demonic possession.
Gaurav leading a paranormal investigation. Image credit: Gaurav Tiwari/Facebook
Gaurav, I discovered, began his career as a non-believer from a family of non-believers. His faith in the paranormal was borne from an incident with an American poltergeist — but that was just the beginning. His journey through occultism brought him into contact with other poltergeists, turned him into a UFO hunter, and eventually led him to the title of India’s most famous paranormal investigator.
Unfortunately, Gaurav gained a reputation, especially in the scientific community, that was less than credible. Any of you who’ve seen his television appearances will have seen him get ripped apart by a panel of scientists and godmen on a popular Hindi news channel.
Let me tell you about the Gaurav I knew. I don’t think he was a faker. On the show we filmed together, he had many opportunities to fake it – we were all nerves anyway. But he always tried to find logical explanations for perceived paranormal occurrences. A weird heaviness would be explained as fluctuating electromagnetic fields, while demonic whispers were due to faulty and defunct pipes.
Gaurav would never consider a place haunted just because the locals said it was. Bhandgarh is known as India’s most haunted place to the public. But to Gaurav, it was a joke: the best night picnic spot he’d ever been to. What did he have to gain with such a claim?
Gaurav was a calming influence. There was one incident when one of the contestants on the show was so terrified that she lost her voice. Obviously, that made us uncomfortable, because as producers, we were ultimately responsible for her health and safety. What if her voice never came back?
But Gaurav sat her down and told her that ghosts are just like people – except that they have transcended the physical. They are just confused as us. He had even given a TedX talk on it – it gives me goosebumps to think about the example he used – “if I see my body lying on the floor, I’d be confused. I’d surely reach out to my family and friends…but if they got scared of me, that would make me mad and frustrated.” Anyway, his words brought her voice back.
I know what you’re thinking: they were both fakes. But honestly, it wasn’t a big enough production to go to such extremes. The “possessed woman” you met at the top of the article – well, Gaurav soon exorcised the demon that possessed her. It was a demon that feared the forced marriage the poor girl’s parents were pushing her into. It was entirely human; perhaps even psychosomatic. Gaurav could have milked the exorcism for all the terrified parents were worth, but he didn’t. What a conman.
When I heard about his death, I visited his Facebook page, where nothing was out of place (his latest post was him on the cover of Youth Incorporated; the irony). I really did think it was a hoax. But later in the day, the news trickling into my social media feeds confirmed the worst.
July 7, 2016 was a busy day for me. But between meetings and phone calls, I couldn’t stop my fingers from wandering to the last message I received from Gaurav.
His last text to me had been on June 16. At the time, we’d been in talks about creating a new show for 101 India, but talks just weren’t progressing quickly enough. I was upset with the stagnation. But instead of venting his frustration (if he felt any), Gaurav simply said: “it’s just a phase…let’s see if we could make it real J”. Now it will never be.
Most didn’t know anything about him till he was found dead in his bathroom about a week ago. And now that’s all people can talk about – from MMA fighters to chartered accountants – everyone wants to take bets on what did him in… was it an old ghost with a vendetta, or a new ghost with a grudge or a human who made him a ghost. Well, I much preferred the 5 minutes that I thought his death was a hoax – I’d rather have him be a faker who set up a gimmick to promote a show than be gone.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are independent views solely of the author(s) expressed in their private capacity and do not in any way represent or reflect the views of 101India.com.
By Rachna Mahadevan