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.