My bua in Delhi is crazy about Bombay for just one reason…film stars. And she is way up there in the family hierarchy. So any time she is visiting us, we HAVE to make sure that she gets to witness at least a couple of “stars” and go back to Delhi all giggly and gushy.
So the year was around 1994, and here she was again with her loud kids (my cousins) jumping joyously from the fact that she had just spotted Johnny Lever on the plane! What can I say…she is easily impressed. After a few days, I received the illustrious duty to take the whole noisy lot to the Filmistan Studios where we hoped to spot someone a little more…eyeable.
Entering a film studio is like entering a high-profile prison…with its guarded steel entrance door, the high walls…and a general air of secrecy surrounding the place. Once inside though, it’s a different world altogether! A flurry of activity greets you and you are immediately sucked into the excitement! I was always a movie buff but never a hero/heroine worshipper…so this whole act of seeing them in person did not fit in too well with my nature. Although still a reluctant tour guide…once inside, even I was taken in by the whole atmospherics…but my cousins and bua were totally frenzoid!
Look!…there rests Pappu Pager!…oh!!! look look!! there goes the extra who has been a doctor/lawyer/ coolie/sarpanch in a million movies…hey!…is that blind guy Kader Khan??? ouch! what gaudy clothes these woman dancers wear…nicely cut though…hehehe…everything is so colorful…and it seems like EVERYONE is walking around with make-up on their face!!! Whoa!!! Suresh Oberoi with a broad… yikes!!!…she is yesteryear’s queen Rakhee!!! Are they having an affair???
By now, we were all giddy with excitement and started walking around the whole complex searching and hunting for known faces. It’s a bunch of ugly looking concrete buildings and not a pretty sight really. Since you need a different sort of permission to enter each building (which we didn’t have)…we were content with just prancing around the paths linking the buildings…hoping to catch glimpses of famous filmi people walking in and out of these so-called sheds.
Then, we spotted a group of young kids and their families…much like us… standing and chatting noisily between two buildings. We hurried in their direction to find out that the shooting for a song-scene of the movie “Hum Aapke Hain Kaun” was about to begin in the building on the right…and the make-up room for the main artistes was in the building on the left. And so far…no one had passed through yet. Yipeee!!!!! My Bua and cousins whooped with joy at the prospect of seeing Salman Khan in living flesh!!! I really wasn’t all that thrilled as I had already seen the dud a couple of times earlier…unceremoniously chewing channa in his balcony. I was wondering who the heroine was when suddenly…a maddening collective shriek emerged from the crowd…and I saw Shortie Khan come out…dressed in all white! The children, including my bua, just swamped the crap out of the little guy with their tiny autograph booklets. But he graciously handled them all and signed as many of them as he could and actually returned the pen to its owner before he managed to reach the other end into the safety of the studio. He also winked at my bua who nearly collapsed. I was impressed.
Minutes later, junior characters like Laxmikanth Berde and a few others followed but did not create much of a ripple amongst the kids…who by now were getting restless and impatient…waiting for the heroine to come out.
And then…she glided out. The angel…the most beautiful face my memory can ever remember. Madhuri. I expected the kids to crush her anytime with their books…messing up that beautiful purple saree…screwing up all that delicate make-up. But something magical occurred. All the murmuring came to a complete halt and there was absolute pin drop silence. As she approached, the crowd blocking the entrance parted slowly to make way for her. Just like apna Moses. She did not once look up…but had a constant shy smile on her face…gracefully holding her saree so that it doesn’t touch the floor. There was still complete silence as she took her first steps to cross the freshly created path. She walked as if the hot concrete path was made of soft fragrant flowers…her each and every delicate move possessed by a charm and grace only goddesses possess. I could smell her from where I stood…and I got goose bumps in more places than I’d care to admit. Everyone had their eyes glued to that face…that smile…that allure…it was as if there was a halo surrounding her entire being. She shone…with a splendour not of this earth. As she floated across the short pavement…holding time hostage to her whim…every living being was frozen there…even an impoverished cat…staring from above an abandoned staircase. The moment passed…and she crossed into the studio on the other side. The silence continued for a while… broken finally by the exhaling of air from all of us who were holding our breath. Gorgeous…magical…a priceless moment. We all oddly felt very humbled…and the loud noise and chattering of before was replaced by hushed tones and whispers.
Main Madhuri Dixit banna chahta hoon…not because I am a cross dresser…but because I wish I had a personality like hers!