What is being ‘fashionably late’ for a Bollywood star? Well, it might mean being late for an event, show or a press conference by 20 minutes to as much as four hours.
When it comes to punctuality on the sets, most new-age producers have managed to drill it into a celeb head that time is money and being late for shooting means losing money. Since money is a language that Bollywood understands well, it seems to have had a desired effect on a star’s behavior.
But sadly, what the stars can’t do on the sets, end up doing at events or press conferences. Hence as an entertainment journalist, I have spent more work hours waiting for a star to make an appearance than interviewing him or her. I am sure people in my fraternity are also living to tell the same tale.
However, some stars have surprised me with their professionalism and punctuality and I am going to write about my interaction with those stars today. These stars respected a journalist’s time and because of that, my respect for them went up many notches.
The superstar was supposed to meet the press in Dubai before making a red carpet appearance at the Dubai Film Festival. The UAE press was ready with dictaphones and cameras at the swish Al Qasr Hotel and weren’t surprised when informed that Amitabh Bachchan’s flight was late.
Waiting for a star has kind of become a norm these days and when it was Amitabh Bachchan I am sure we were expected to wait longer than usual.
Soon news trickled in that Bachchan’s flight had landed. I looked at my watch and thought that maybe we would have to wait for an hour and a half more because he would check in, freshen up and then come to the press meet.
Amitabh Bachchan was at the press meet within 20 minutes.
He walked in straight from the airport, apologized for the delay and got on with the one-on-one interviews.
I went back to office with dollops of admiration for the Bollywood icon and a beautiful nostalgia piece on his experiences in Dubai three decades back, when it was more a desert and less the city it is today.
SAIF ALI KHAN
The actor was making an appearance in a nightclub in Dubai and I was invited by the PR to interview him.
I had just walked into the lobby of the hotel when Saif Ali Khan also walked in from the airport and went to his room. The PR took me to a lounge next to his room and asked me to wait. I was gearing up for a long wait because I have almost never seen a star step out of the room immediately after a flight. They only step out after make-up is in place, hair is done, tea’s finished and phone calls attended are to.
But even before I had settled down on the sofa, the door opened and Saif walked out in a simple T-shirt and denims, sans any make-up. He welcomed me to the corner table in his room with two chairs. He sat down in one of them resting his chin on the back of his palm and gave me one the best interviews of my entire career.
He looked tired but never for once did he try to hurry me, he answered all my controversial questions without attempting any diplomacy and talked animatedly about Kareena and told me that he felt she was a bigger star than him.
I profusely thanked this Khan for his time and for respecting mine.
I have had the opportunity of interacting with Raveena and number of times and she is one person, who never likes to keep a journalist waiting.
Once I remember I knocked on Raveena’s make-up van while she was shooting for the TV serial Sahib, Biwi, Ghulam in a studio in Kolkata.
Raveena was having her fruit break at that time but she quickly invited me inside, offered me some sliced kiwis and said: “It’s not fair to keep you waiting outside because I am eating.”
I think I have to write another post to tell you more about the real Raveena I know, but right now let me talk about how the actress is a stickler for time.
This incident happened way back in 2000 when Raveena was at the zenith of her career and she was doing a campaign for soap brand, visiting the homes of the winners of a competition.
As usual her flight was late (wonder what’s with this delayed flights and stars) and all the journalists and photographers were waiting to catch a glimpse of her before she embarked on her journey of visiting the homes of the contest winners.
When Raveena arrived, the organizers wanted to whisk her off to her room but she said: “The Press is waiting. Let us get the photographs done first.”
Much to the reluctance of the organizers and happiness of the photographers she cheerfully posed and accepted requests to “turn that way and look this way”.
Raveena floored all with her humility that day, so much so that more than a decade later I reminisce that day so fondly.
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