Stage is set. Crew members have taken their position. Security guards have been alarmed. The queue is getting longer every second. Meanwhile, I am standing at the gate. Nervous. I have been invited to witness everything and to blog about it. A girl comes out and shouts my name. I go to her, she gives me a badge which says Roadies 9 – Press. She explains the whole scenario to me and I nervously nod to everything she says. “4000 people have already entered the center and it’s only 11.15 AM!!” she says.
I say, “So Ma’am, where should I start?” She replies, “Just call me Upasna. And you are free to go anywhere you want and talk to anyone you want. You can start from wherever you like,” and passes a lovely smile. Nervousness increases.
I am standing inside the premises of the expocenter. Everyone looks crazy. People are standing, walking, running, shouting, screaming and scolding. I gather my confidence and suddenly Suchit Vikram Singh, from Roadies 8, walks by me. The crowd standing just outside the premises, which has glass doors, shouts “SUCHIT!!! SUCHIIIIIIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SUCHIT????????SUUUUUUU…..!!! AUTOGRAPH PLEEEEEEEEEEEEASE!!” He stops. Smiles. And walks out to acknowledge them. I stand there awestruck. Like everybody else, he was my favorite Roadie too. Not knowing what to do, I decide to enter a hall which is producing the maximum noise. My jaws drop. Crazy crowd. There is a stage on which a female anchor is trying to bring some fun in the hall but people are going nuts for the Group Discussion round. No body looks tired. Many have done much homework to look different. Some have a visibly big tattoo, piercing, weird clothing and hairstyle. Most of them are busy filling their forms. I find one guy very interesting.
“Hi” I say.
“Hello Sir” he replied. I look back to find out who he is replying to. I can ’t find anybody.
“You work for MTV?” He asks while looking at my badge.
“No! No, I don’t. I am here to observe everything and to blog about it.”
“Oh! So you actually are the press. My name is Akash. Nice to meet you.” He offers handshake. I feel embarrassed .
“How long have you been waiting here?”
“Aah, I have been standing in the line since 3 AM. Finally I’m in for the GD.” He looks very excited. I smile. I take his form from his hands and glance through it. He is from Bhopal. He must have traveled all the way, I presume.
“Feeling confident about the GD?” I ask.
“Yes! Yes! Of course. Are Raghu & Rajeev here already? Very excited. Hope I clear the GD so that I can sit for the interview.” He actually looked confident.
“Ohh yes. They are here.” I lie.
I move on to the backstage area. I see 5 verrrrry long queues. Guys are sitting and going through the forms again and again. I see many confident, nervous, weird and idiot ‘looking’ guys in those queues. I decide to take a walk through them and I get to hear ‘not so alien’ stuff:
“Arrey hamaari photo bhi le lo, kaha chaapoge?” | “Arrey media waale hain, pose do kal akhbaar me aa jaoge.” | “Bhai saab, kaha se hain aap? MTV?” | “Rannvijay aaya hai kya? Milwa do please! Ek petis (patties) khila dunga.”
On hearing the fourth statement, I stop. I walk towards that guy while controlling my laughter and the moment he sees me walking towards him, he feels intimidated.
“So, you’ll make me eat petis if I let you meet Rannvijay?” Hearing this many guys turn around to look at me. Then they look at my badge and start paying more attention to what I say.
“Yess Yess I will buy a petis and I will gift you.” He says.
“Okay, I’ll make sure you get full attention during the GD.”
“Arrey nahi nahi sorry sir!” he shouts.
I pay no attention and walk away. Feeling victorious. Feeling proud. Feeling priceless.
Suddenly my phone rings and I am called for a meeting. I quickly walk past everything to go to the place I am called. I see all the bloggers who were invited by blogadda.com to cover the auditions standing there. I shake hands with all of them. Then we are invited to a room. I’m standing last in the line and walking slowly. I turn back to check if anybody else is there. And I find Raghu standing behind me. I let out a huge sigh. He notices my nervousness , passes a smile and says, “Keep walking.” My legs start to shiver a little.
There is a circular table inside the room. We are asked to be seated.
Rajeev: “So you people are bloggers.”
We: “Yes Sir.”
Rajeev: “Come on. This is not a class. Don’t say yes sir, no sir, present sir.”
Rajeev: “So how come you people blog?”
Pin Drop Silence. At this point I am wondering if we look too foolish to blog or too intelligent or too young or too..
Rajeev: “Okay leave it. What do you blog about?”
I finally speak. “Anything that catches my fancy.”
A fellow blogger laughs. Rajeev has that ‘I can penetrate you’ look at my face. I feel like hiding it.
“That means you only write about girls, right?”
Raghu laughs. The other bloggers and Rajeev join him. I got to get my nerves back..I got to be smart enough to match the level of the conversation that has thus begun.
The blogger sitting beside me takes out his video camera and starts recording. I, then, take out my cell phone and open the video camera. I feel very, very excited and nervous. We ask the clichéd questions and they both reply each and every one of them, over and over again, politely. God! They should be known for their patience too!
Suddenly Rajeev gets a call and he tells the guard to open the door. In walks Karanvir Bohra ( of ‘Kasautii Zindagii Kay’ fame), and Raghu is immediately ecstatic. He says, “Guys, Karanvir has just given a GD by being a mock participant after standing in line for hours and he is the right one to talk to. “ Karanvir waves and says Hi. We say hi in return. Hopefully some more interesting stuff!
Karanvir speaks, “Standing in line was exhausting and tiring. Kudos to all the guys standing out there. Filling the form felt like I am back in college, and I felt a bit nervous. But then the GD was mind blowing. There were 19 girls and just one guy. Why so Raghu?” “You were nervous while filling the forms?” Raghu laughs. We join him. “Yeah, I don’t know why. I mean I am also a human.” “Hmm. Its Delhi’s reputation. We can’t take even an iota of chance with security. So we feel it’s better to let the girls do the GD and everything quickly so they can go back in good time.” Raghu speaks. We nod. I am an awestruck guy who is impressed too. I hope that makes sense.
“Okay, yeah. Right. So the topic for GD was, ‘Should Prostitution be legalized in India?’ and I was in favor of the question, and there was this Jaat Girl who literally road rolled us on hearing I am in favor of the topic. She started shouting and we got scared.” Karanvir continues. Involuntarily, I give out a quick loud laugh. Silence follows. Karanvir looks at me as if I’m some sort of a criminal. Raghu and Rajeev look at me and then at each other. I feel sweat down my forehead in the air conditioned room and gulp. Everybody bursts into laughter.
Raghu then points at me and says, “Any questions?” I stammer and ask, “What would you say to people who say that Raghu & Rajeev only know how to abuse and insult others?” He points his middle finger and says in a stern voice, “F**k off!” I feel like running towards the toilet. Hands of the blogger sitting next to me, begin to shake. He quickly removes his video camera form the table, that has been unabashedly recording all our moments for posterity till now, as if a student has been caught cheating ‘red handed’ by his examiner! Everybody who was not looking at Raghu, stares at him dumbfounded and everybody who was looking at Raghu, doesn’t know where to look. Raghu finally smiles , “No, no. Don’t get intimidated. ” Skeptic smiles return everywhere!
An hour long session with Raghu and Rajeev comes to an end. My graph for that hour would have shown an extra ordinary range of emotions in my brain. But man, I can’t have enough of them!
We go out to receive the Roadies 9 merchandise. I get a T-shirt and then Gayatri from MTV asks us if we want to leave. I choose to stay back as I want to explore more.
I take out my camera again and walk to the hall. I see Vibhor Sharma, Renee Dhyani and Suchit Vikram Singh along with Raghu and Rajeev giving an interview to a news channel. I see lot of people surrounding them to get one glimpse of their favorite Roadie. I wait silently. After giving that interview, all the ex-Roadies come inside the hall premises. I walk towards them and shake hands with all three. I congratulate Suchit for winning hearts and for being the star, Renee for just being herself and for showing the guys what girls can become in extreme conditions and finally Vibhor to be the youngest and toughest guy on the show who had won Roadies battleground after winning the final task where he had to arm wrestle with John Abraham.
Suchit is called by Raghu, Renee goes outside to acknowledge the fans. Vibhor is busy with a phone call. I wait. I plan. Just then Vibhor hangs up the call, and I turn to him and say, “So how’s life after Roadies?” “Good. I feel redeemed. I have no fear of anything. I simply go to college and now that Roadies 8 fever is long gone, not many people recognize me and gather me. I can walk around anywhere not being recognized and still feel amazed at my achievement.” He replies. I smile. Renee joins us. She looks at my press badge, “So whom do you work for?” She asks. “I am here to witness the auditions for I have to go home and blog about everything.” She smiles. “I’ll look forward to your blog post, do mail me.” She smiles and gives me a hug. Does the world know she just might be a warm person too? I feel more confident. I ask both of them, “So when people say that Roadies is scripted and everything, how true are they?” Vibhor shots back, “I used to feel the same when I used to watch it on TV. But believe me when I say this, nothing is scripted on Roadies. Everything is impromptu.” I feel satisfied. “The Video blog you see in between the show of each Roadie is the only thing where each Roadie is speaking the truth and doesn’t feel like lying. Crew members ask us questions and we speak everything on camera.”
I do my ritual. I get a picture clicked with them.
Suchit comes out. I turn to him and ask, “So how’s life after Roadies?” (Please don’t accuse me of being cliché! In fact I have far more sympathy and empathy for all those ‘how are you feeling’ journalists on our daily TV, after my stint today!)
“It’s great. I mean people now recognize me and pay respect and many of them call themselves my fans. I feel both nervous and amazed at my achievement. I plan to come again on camera soon.” He pats my back and smiles.
Suddenly we hear a huge roar from the hall and everybody runs to see what has happened. I decide to leave after waiting for few minutes as I feel quite exhausted. I call Gayatri to handover the badge and take her wishes for the future. I, then, go inside the hall, to bid goodbye to all three ex-Roadies and wish them all the best.
I walk out of the center feeling satisfied and proud. I am a changed man. I make myself a promise to start losing weight.