I have always believed that you should never really wish to meet your favorite celebrity; for you don’t know how they might behave with you. One moment…just one moment with them can decide everything. I am a big time fan of Shah Rukh Khan. I hear a lot of things about him, everyday, some good, and some bad. I don’t care. I admire him, period. I’m not gonna change my opinions on the basis of things I hear.
When you have an elder sister who has contacts in big hotels in New Delhi, and she knows people….big people, and also has the caliber of fixing a meeting with your favorite celebrity, would you let go of the opportunity? I guess, you wouldn’t. I came to know SRK was in town for a couple of days for some work and was staying in a hotel I knew my sister has contacts in. That was it. I had to go crazy. I had to irritate her to a point where she had to say, ‘OKAY! I’ll see what I can do! Happy?’
And here I am. Waiting in the lobby. Waiting to meet my favorite star. Nervous. Shaking legs. Adjusting my hair. Wiping the sweat off my face. In short – Anxious. Am I really gonna meet him? Will he actually shake hands with me? Will he get a photo clicked with me? How much time am I gonna get? What am I gonna say? Will he listen to me? Answer my questions? Such are the heights of my craziness.
‘Mr. Naman?’ I hear a voice. ‘Yes!’ I reply back, surprised. ‘It’s time for your appointment. Sir has to leave in about half hour and he is waiting for you in his Suite.’ Waiting? For me? In his suite? No way!
I follow him. My hands are trembling. He is just a normal human, just like you. Stop over reacting! I say to myself.
‘This way, Mr. Naman. Here you go.’
Adrenaline courses through my body. I hear the footsteps approaching. Don’t meet him. Just run!
The door opens and I see someone.
‘Hey! You must be Naman, right?’ Red colored rim spectacles, black t-shirt, blue jeans, glowing and a very familiar face passing that classic smile….I almost collapse.
‘Relax, dude. Usually it’s the girls who give me this kind of reaction. Come on in.’ He smiles. I can see him. Shah Rukh Khan. In his personal Royal Suite. Right in front of me! And guess what? He calls me by my name the moment he sees me. AWESOME!
‘Come sit. Wanna have something to drink? Tea, coffee, soft, hard… anything?’
I am too starstruck to speak. He laughs.
‘You alright?’ He pats my shoulders. I am stoned. Why am I behaving like this!
‘Hi, sir. I am a big fan of yours.’ I finally manage to utter out the most clichéd words in the world. Disappointing.
‘Haha. Really? That’s it? I expected more from you.’ He winks.
‘No…No! I mean, I am really a big…big….bigggg fan of you.’ No sooner do I complete my sentence than I look above and notice the ceiling, the walls, the lighting, and the decoration. What an arrangement! I wish I were a star.
‘Oh, is that so? How big a fan are you? Tell me.’ He rests his back on his sofa and folds his hands, starts smiling and waits for me to speak.
I am in Shah Rukh Khan’s personal royal suite! I shout in my head, again.
‘Oye, kaha kho gaya?’ He starts laughing.
‘I don’t know. I have seen some of the shows where they showcase your fans. I don’t do that kind of stuff. But yeah, I admire you a lot.’ I am amazed by the clarity of the long sentence I just spoke.
‘Hmm. Okay, forget all this. Tell me, do you buy the music of my movies or do you just download?’ Again, that sinister laugh. He knows he has caught me.
I freeze. Totally.
I speak nothing and look down. Even more embarrassed.
‘Call yourself a big fan, huh? Haha. No worries. People rarely buy. They always download. Not a new thing.’
I keep fiddling with my fingers anxiously. Clueless about what to say next.
‘I’ll start buying from your next movie.’ Shit. How can I be so dumb!
‘Yaar tu itna dara hua kyo hai? Mai samajh gaya. You are the biggest fan.’
I look up and notice the glow on his face. I suddenly think of something.
‘Why do some people say you’re rude to them? I was scared about the same before coming here. I comforted myself with a silly thought - since this is a proper appointment, you wouldn’t be rude.’ The conversation is all going wrong. My legs shiver.
‘See Naman, I never have any intention of being even remotely rude to anyone. It all depends on the situation in which they see or interact with me. If I am in a crowded place and surrounded by people, I cannot pay attention to everybody. If I am in the middle of the shoot, crew members won’t let any fan come up to me. They get disappointed. The worst part is that I don’t even get to know of most of those happenings. I know many get irritated and change their viewpoint about me, but, that’s life! I move on.’
I smile. Feeling satisfied.
‘But then, people say much more things about you; which I feel, are inappropriate. I guess you must be aware of some of those things.’
‘Media waalon ki tarah kyo baatein kar raha hai! Ha-ha. Arrey, I know everything they say about me. It’s been 22 years. Ab toh zada farak bhi nahi padta. I feel, if you don’t irk at least 50% of people surrounding you, you’re not doing your job right. On the other hand, if someone speaks negative about you, you can easily make out whether it is genuine or jealousy or out of personal grudge. People keep calling me idiot, old, worn out, cheesy, narcissist or even gay! It doesn’t affect me now. People will always say things. It’s your choice to listen to all that bullshit or ignore.’
‘Really? You are aware of each and every damn thing they say about you… even sometimes about your role in the movies?’
He passes me a curt smile. And then, winks.
‘I know where you are heading. The point is that I have done so many movies, and played really, really difficult characters in some. Now that I have reached this level, I feel I should experiment. I don’t care whether those efforts will be appreciated or not, whether the people would want to kill me or not; I just feel like experimenting. And, I am not gonna stop. Love me or hate me for it.’
I just feel short of words. He looks serious. Should I ask him for a photo?
‘Achha ek kaam kar pehle. Pareshan mat dikh. Chill! You mind if I smoke in here?’
‘As a matter of fact, I do!’ I speak immediately with such confidence that he actually stops before lighting his cigarette and looks at me with raised eyebrows. God, I really hate smoking.
‘I’m sorry. But I really hate your habit of smoking. You do know how harmful that is. Fir bhi? Aur movies me kehte ho nahi peena chahiye, log mar jaate hain.’
‘Chal tere ko ek baat batata hun. Sorry, haan, is cigarette ke liye.’ He throws it in the bin kept nearby. Brings in a serious look and speaks. ‘There are two types of people in the world. First, who have the ground and are rooting for the sky. Second, who have reached the sky but lost the ground quickly. I happen to be the latter. I lost my Dad when I was very young. I only had my mom to take care of me. My younger sister was ill. And, I had to go to Mumbai to fight for the love of my life. I tried my hand in TV & movies; and by the grace of god, I started to succeed. And then I got to know about my mother’s demise. That was very saddening. She used to call me her hero and always believed in me. She wanted me to win an award in acting. And, she left me as soon as I won my first award. I couldn’t even show it to her. I had no one left, had to take care of my sister, had to fight for my love and had to make a living. Smoking bahaut gandi cheez hai. Mujhey kisi insaan ne nahi balki akelepan ne shuru karayi. Chhod raha hun yaar, dheeme dheeme. Maaf kar de.’
He smiles. I try to recollect and remember everything he just said. Whatta man! Seriously.
‘May I ask you more about my doubts?’ I make an innocent face and look at him. He checks his watch. ‘Abhi toh time hai. Pooch le. Nahi toh tu bhi bolega ki sanki hoon aur bhaav khata hoon.’ I silently thank my sister, and speak.
‘One of my friends dislikes you. He says your prime has passed; you used to be brilliant but have now become irritating and repetitive. He also says you’ll end up being like Michael Jackson by the time you hit 50. It shows in your face.’
‘You sure you’re a fan? Khaali maarne me laga hai jabse aaya hai!’
He and I share a good laugh.
‘I am 46 years young, Naman. The way I am living and speeding, I’ll only stop at 150. Not at 50. Don’t worry. Na mujhko gum hai, na mujhko parwaah. Kaun mera dushman hua. And talking about the face? Umm…I know I am very sexy!’
It takes enormous amount of guts and confidence to speak good about oneself. Not all can do it. He is full of confidence and style! I wait for a while. My legs still shaking anxiously, and thinking what to say next. I am still a little starstruck to actually listen to what he says carefully. I just want to blurt everything out I always wanted to ask and tell. But then, I smile. Not sure of the reason.
‘Tell me, did you see Don2?’
‘Oh, yeah. I did. I did. I certainly did.’
He chuckles. I look down and laugh over my reaction.
‘Hmm. How did you like it?’
‘I loved it. You were awesome. I liked and appreciated you in Ra.One too. But…’
‘Aa gaya line pe, makkhan maarne ke baad. But kya?’
‘Nahi, aisa nahi hai. I don’t know whether I should actually say it….There was a problem in Ra.One. Maybe, in Don2 as well.’
‘Aah. Maybe I know what’s on your mind.’
‘You could have at least chosen a better script for Ra.One. That way it could have earned some appreciation from critics as well.’
‘Tumhe ek pate ki baat batata hoon. Jab script saamne aati hai na, toh vo tabhi achhi lagti hai agar sahi me achhi hai toh. Everyone liked it when it had taken the final shape. I don’t know if something backfired during the shooting and production. We really did put in a lot of effort. Everybody! Yes, I agree something was wrong, but then it’s okay. I mean I just wanted to show people that they don’t need to run to Hollywood to get ‘quality’. Everything can be produced in India now. As far as roles are concerned…I don’t sit around and complain. I can play Rahul a 100 times and still make him look different and lovable each time. Rahi baat Don ki, apna apna nazariya hai logo ka. Film achhi bani. Logo ka toh kaam hai kehna, kuchh kuchh toh kahenge hi.’
‘A 100 times? And people around me blame you for repetition. I am tired of explaining things to them.’
‘Dekh. Simple sa funda hai. For every 5 people who say I suck at acting and should give up…blah..blah…blah; there always are 500 people who love me for what I do. Their love supports me and encourages me. Aur yaar log unnees aur bees ki baat karte hain, main toh paanch aur paanch sau ki baat kar raha hoon. I’ll die the day they stop recognizing me, mobbing me or loving me. That’s what I live for. That eternal love of my fans has made that misery of not having parents go away. I owe my life to them.’
I smile. I am confident now. He is answering all my doubts, queries and questions without any hesitation. Again, I repeat, the star sitting in front of me is the same Indian who is mobbed every time he makes a public appearance and has the maximum number of fans globally. And, he is talking to me right now.
‘ You know, now I keep quite whenever I hear anything against you as I know they are unaware of your greatness.’
‘Arrey bol liya kar bhai. Kaisa fan hai! Vaha kuchh nahi bolta aur yaha aakar dialogue maar raha hai. On a serious note, look. First off, I don’t even pay attention to all those stories and opinions. I am here to do my job, i.e., to entertain people as long as I can. Let people say whatever they want. I will keep loving them and doing my job. And yes…2011 was nothing; watch out for 2012’
He winks, lays back, folds hands and passes that evil grin. He, sure, has his way.
‘Chal yaar. It’s time. I need to leave. All the best for all your future endeavors.’ He stands up. Adjusts his specs and hair. I prepare to leave.
‘Achha, aajtak laakho fans se mile hoge aap. Koi yaad bhi rehta hai?’
‘Tu bas ye yaad rakh, tere ko nahi bhool raha main. And if I’m not wrong, you’re the best sensible fan I can ever have. Baaki toh saare khaali autograph aur photo ke liye milte hain.’
I am about to take out my paper and phone for the autograph and a picture but immediately stop. I don’t ask him for those things. Instead I have a better memory of meeting him.
‘Chal yaar, Naman. It was nice meeting you.’ He shakes my hand and passes a smile.
‘I hope to meet you again if I ever come to Mumbai seeking any help from you.’
‘Sure! Here, take my card. This is my secretary’s number, and here you go. This is my number and email id.’ He scribbles his details at the back of the card. I am awestruck. Too many unbelievable things happening at the moment.
‘Aur koi shikayat?’
‘Nahi. Nahi. Don is the best bad guy in the world.’
He and I share a last laugh. And I leave his suite, walk past all the rooms and everything.
I just met SRK!