Sunday, September 4, 2011
I am Salman,You are Salman,We are all Salman!
This is the 'Jhoola' picture , shot by the late Mitter Bedi, that hangs in one of the large Celebrity Windows in the corridor of the Taj Mahal Hotel. I am very proud of it... it is an honour to be included with the likes of international greats - Pandit Ravi Shanker,Sunil Gavaskar, Amitabh Bachchan, The Beatles, Richard Branson, Presidents, Prime Ministers, Sports Stars, Movie Stars,Kings and Queens.You like???
This appeared in the Sunday Times, but for some inexplicable reason, the people in charge of making the page changed the headline to a less naughty one : New Supermen of the Besotted Masses. BORRRRRIIIIINGGGG!
Khair, it's their prerogative. Just like it is Naseer Hussain's prerogative to call our cricketers 'Donkeys'. Harsha Bhogle.... really!!! How could you take that lying down?
I am in a feisty mood this drippy sunday. Must be the modaks I had at lunch. Our home experiment wasn't too successful... but the effort was sincere. Am kicking myself for not having asked my mother for the exact recipe when she was alive.
Today is the last day of the Society Collections. I am tempted to go back for the third time and pick up some more Diwali decorations.
However, I did very well at Reena Bodani's Design Quest ( it's her virgin show at Design One, which starts on the 8th ). I love Reena's design sensibilities and splurged on her elegant stationery ( she's happy to personalise it for customers).
I also enjoyed shooting for Ahlan's Special Issue, India's Hot Hundred, with my daughter Avantikka and grand-daughter Anasuya Devi.Once we were done with the shoot in the Rajput Suite of the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel (imagine! it was in the same suite that my iconic 'Jhoola' picture was shot, 40 years ago!), we went down to the Sea Lounge and celebrated Anasuya's premiere visit to our favourite hotel. A tiny chocolate cake sent across to the table, marked the occasion. Such a 'Taj' touch!
How did we mark the end of Shravan? Well, Arundhati, who observes it with me, was away in Leh on a camping trip, and broke hers at an altitude of 15,000 feet. I was at Avantikka's home and raised a glass of sparkling wine!Alas, at sea level.But that single glass made me feel I was at 30,000 feet. That's what I call a real 'high'.
Now for our annual darshan of the magnificent Lalbaugh Chha Raja!
I am Salman,You are Salman,We are all Salman…
Feel the punch.Feel the heat.Feel the kick.Feel the powerrrrr!
Feel it? If you just did, it’s called the Salman Hangover.And those are lyrics from the title track of Salman Khan’s latest release ‘Bodyguard’, which has smashed all box office records on the first day of its perfectly timed Eid release. Incidentally,it is a monumentally ridiculous film.Does that matter? Salman’s myriad admirers are on a high.So are Anna’s (even after ‘pack up’ was called at the now deserted Ramlila grounds).These men do not have fans, they have devotees. After two consecutive superhits, Salman’s producers were hoping for a hat trick with ‘Bodyguard’. Their only worry was the stupendous success of an earlier production that was running to a packed house and had virtually captured every available sub-continental eyeball watching television, 24x7. The script of that particular production changed by the hour and was compelling enough to keep a billion Indians riveted for close to a fortnight. It was a unique and original script, though a few ‘khadoos’ critics insisted it was a remake of Richard Attenborough’s ‘Gandhi’. So what? ‘Bodyguard’ is a re-make , too. Audiences don’t care, so long as they get their money’s worth. The Ramlila verion of ‘Gandhi’ guaranteed ‘houseful’ shows and was fully paisa vasool. Its canny producers ( Team Anna) realizing its potential as a national and possibly, an international blockbuster,had gone flat out to leverage its popularity, with marketing gimmicks that generated shock and awe. Caps, flags, placards and soundbytes were neatly in place, as were pre-booked slots on popular tv programmes including a reality show that enjoys high ratings. The positioning and placement of the ‘product’ ( Jan Lokpal Bill) was shrewdly calibrated to appeal to the target audience ( same as ‘Bodyguard’s’). If Katrina Kaif was sweet enough to help out good friend Salman with an item number ( feel the heat, you guys!), Team Anna was fortunate enough to have Kiran Bedi dancing a daily jig on the dais ( could have done with better choreography, though). The music of both productions was mediocre, though Team Anna scored with live performances, a few of which drew top stars like the other Khan – Aamir.
But just like Salman devotees don’t really bother with the side shows and are there solely for Salman, Team Anna’s core group understood it was Anna who attracted those mammoth crowds – just Anna.That’s what real superstardom is all about. It knows no logic and there’s nothing remotely rational about the hysteria it triggers off. The Wave is everything – and professionals know exactly how to time it, ride it…. just like competitive surfers. But no matter how cold bloodedly minders try and manufacture the magic or capitalize on a craze, at the heart of such madness lies something entirely ephemeral. It is called love. And that cannot be manufactured. People love Salman and Anna. Unconditionally, at that.It would appear these two men have absolutely nothing in common. One is a 41- year-old, pumped up movie actor whose specialization lies in the many and highly innovative ways of removing his shirt on screen( a water hose does the job in ‘Bodyguard’).The other is a bird- like 74- year- old who may have never worn a shirt ( except in the army).But both men are seen as avatars of ‘Superman’ by besotted followers.One performs unbelievable physical feats on screen ( Salman single handedly slays no less than fifty baddies in ‘Bodyguard’), the other does so in real life (fasts for 13 days without a single sign of fatigue).. Their stupendous success defies the odds. Their undeniable charisma sees them through life’s most daunting tests. Salman plays a simpleton in ‘Bodyguard’ – an innocent, trusting person called Lovely Singh ( you read that right!). Anna is such a person in real life. Both men are single, though Salman is ever ready to mingle. India is their extended family. And such is the fanaticism of their followers, one word spoken or written about either, generates an avalanche of abuse. Clearly there’s zero tolerance for criticism.Allegiance is everything and camps are closed to ‘outsiders’. Interestingly enough, Salman’s last hit, ‘Dabbang’ was launched at a time when his only rival was Baba Ramdev (I had written a column on their similarities in this space). Ramdev’s fortunes went downhill right after. Today, it’s Anna Hazare, and he is still going strong. But it is Salman Khan who leads a charmed life and seems indestructible.
It’s got to be that shirt trick!