One of the perks of being a journalist is that you often get to meet celebrities from various fields — some are snobbish, some witty and funny, some extremely humble and others just touch your heart. Here’s how two film stars fared on our ‘being human’ meter...
HE CAME, HE SAW, HE LEFT
It was a chaotic weekday evening when a sea of people had gathered to meet their favourite Bollywood star in our neighbouring industrial town. The organisers had promised a few lucky fans the opportunity to meet the actor, and due to aggressive promotion, the venue witnessed a footfall that couldn’t be managed despite the presence of cops and strict bandobust.
Hours passed but there was no sign of him. His fans showed great stamina and patience but I was getting restless. Had it not been my job to interview him, I would have left the venue long ago, I kept saying to myself.
And then the moment came. The star finally arrived. Soon all hell broke loose, the fans went berserk when they saw him and broke the barricades to get near him. There was a stampede and people were seen falling on top of each other. To manage the situation, the police had to use lathi charge and the superstar’s bodyguard rushed him back to his car. Within a few moments, before anybody could fathom what was happening, he left the venue.
If this blink-and-miss stint left the guests and the fans disappointed and agitated, media representatives like me, stationed on the first floor of the venue, were left waiting for him to address the press conference, which never happened. I was angry and wanted to leave immediately but couldn’t do that either. For security reasons, all the entry and exit points to the building were closed and we were forced to stay put for a good one hour.
Many questions started crowding my mind — should people stake their lives and waste their time just to see and meet a celebrity? Should we blame the organisers who, in order to promote the event, cause such chaos? Can we blame the police for being incompetent or should we hold the actor solely responsible for the situation as his coming late caused the crowd to become restless?
I also want to know if celebrities do such things intentionally? Does seeing hundreds of people waiting for them anxiously give them some kind of kick, or they think because they are ‘stars’, it is their right to make people wait?
Our rating for this fellow: one star
A CHAT ON WHEELS
Two days later, I was sitting in the luxurious car belonging to another Bollywood superstar. Before he came, I observed every bit of the vehicle. There were fruit baskets, plastic containers carrying eatables, a huge yellow basket with fibre plates and ghar ka khana completely occupying the back seat. After 10-odd minutes, when the actor approached his car, a big crowd rushed towards him. His bodyguards tried to move them away as the actor took a seat in the car.
When he sat next to me, I had mixed feelings — excitement as I was sitting in the same car as him, and fear looking at the way his fans were banging on the car to attract his attention. I had never experienced this before, and it scared me.
As the car started moving, a part of the crowd ran towards the vehicle. Some were already standing in front of the car, making it difficult for us to move ahead. When his bodyguards tried to get them to move, the actor lowered his window glass and instructed his team to ensure that nobody was pushed or hurt.
When we managed to get out of the situation, and started our journey on the road, he turned to greet me. I noticed that the man has aged like a fine wine and looked too fit to be 50!
Suddenly the thought of ghar ka khana lying in backseat popped up in my head and I realised this must be the reason why.
After an awkward silence, I began my interview by asking him questions about the film he was promoting. A fan, who was chasing the car on bike with his girlfriend riding pillion, came closer to click a picture of the star with one hand. The actor expressed his concern and said, “Look at that, how do these fans risk their lives just to meet their stars?”
The interview went off really well. Post that, he readily clicked a selfie with me and signed an autograph for my husband, who is a huge fan. Looking outside the window again, the actor pointed to the driver of a Maruti van who was spitting on the road. “Man kar raha hai ek thappad maroon! (I feel like giving him one slap!),” said he. Hygiene has to be on his mind, after his last film, I said to myself.
The star seemed to be particular about time and I could see the uneasiness on his face as he was running late by a few minutes for his next event. He was constantly asking me and his manager, sitting in the same car, how long it would take to reach the venue.
In the course of the conversation, he advised me to learn self-defence. He insisted that I stay back for the event at the mall which was his next halt, and made sure that I tagged along with his team.
I realised not all actors have airs — some have their feet firmly on ground too.
Our rating for this fellow: four stars