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Stars In Public Places

I enjoy meeting Akshay Kumar.  We haven’t  met  for some  time.  He hasn’t  changed at all over  the  years that I’ve known  him.  We’ve gone through our share  of ups and downs.  But  Akshay is still there.   He has a  sense of humour about  everything  including his career. Akshay knows  , to last  long  in  the industry you’ve to be  able to laugh at  yourself. 

But Mumbai without Kareena  Kapoor  is  no  fun. I still  remember  the  first time we met. She had  just landed  in Mumbai after a long stint  abroad.  I expected  to  see  a jet-lagged child-woman    when I landed. Instead  my eyes caught this mesmerizing  beauty running across the terminal with flowers  in her hand. 

       A sight meant   to be captured for posterity.

Not  everyone is as bold  as our spunky Kareena.  Other stars who  come to receive me  at  the airport  generally stay  in  the car hidden away  from the public  while their drivers stand  vigilant  at the terminal.

 The  problem with being seen with stars  is  that  you  inevitably end up being embarrassed  by  the attention they attract. I remember  a rendezvous with Kareena and Shahid at  the Marriott   when they were  couple.(I haven’t met her with Saif).

      A star-stuck gentleman  came and asked  me  if the super-couple would mind  posing with him and  his family for a picture.

  Kareena and Shahid  happily  obliged.   But the demand grew. The  star-stuck gentleman  then wanted the pair to pose  for his friends  by the swimmingpool, etc.

  The  trouble  is we are a  star-struck  nation.  Some of us enjoy the stars openly. Others  do it surreptitiously. Eyes  follow  me as I lunch with one of my favourite humanbeings  Jaya Bachchan. As  I head to the loo, I’m accosted by a  well-dressed overweight lady who wants to know  how   I know THE Jaya Bachchan.

 How? I wonder how  I should  answer  that  question. I’ve known  her since  I was THAT high(on cinema).  Before I can frame  an answer a  barrage of other queries follow. Is she  a warm person? A good wife and mother?  Er….yeah yeah,  I mumble and I run out.

  Another memory….tv tycoon Ekta Kapoor sits  down to lunch . She doesn’t touch a morsel while I tuck in. Ekta is on a diet  before she  leaves for Mauritius  to   shoot  for a serial. “You wouldn’t want me  to look FAT   in an alien land, would you?” she dares me  to  contradict her as I  dig into a scrumptious  chocolate dessert  .

Who  would dare to  cut short the Ekta  Kapoor? I tell you, my star-friends are such poor eaters…Except Urmila Matondkar who’s  always a  delightful  host. In her  spick-and-span home(done up almost entirely  in  white beige and blue)  we sit on  her spacious terrace, jab till  our jaws drop, bitching  about  the entire world (all off the  record, of course).

    At dinner she serves as good as she eats. And for  the dessert  she  serves up the best kulfi  civilization has ever invented.  

     It’s always  more fun to  meet  your star friends at home.  When  you catch them  in their home ambience they are far more relaxed and  their natural self.

 Alas, most  of  the stars are so  busy they’re hardly home.  Some   like Karan Johar are able  to cope with prying eyes and  probing queries  far better than  others. My  once-dear friend Ekta Kapoor (we don’t speak any more)  is not  that good at  facing  the  crowds.  I realized it when we sauntered  into lunch and  middleaged lady and her mother accosted her  in  the middle of  the restaurant.

   “Ekta Dear, my mother doesn’t miss any of  the serials. So tell us what’s going to happen  next in  Kyunki Saas…”

  Ekta mumbled  her thanks and beat a hasty retreat.

Is  there any  place on earth where stars are given the space to be   themelves? Yup, at home.  That’s where the defences are down.  Or maybe it’s just  the food. Ghar ka khana  always  brings  out  the best in anyone. Take your pickle.

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