Sunday, February 8, 2009

Meeting Aamir Khan- Luck by chance


This post has been selected by BlogAdda as one of the top posts for the week's 'Tangy Tuesday Picks'- link: http://blog.blogadda.com/2009/02/10/blogaddas-tangy-tuesday-picks-feb-10-09#more-338

There is a scene in “Luck by chance” where Konkana and Farhan are in a supermarket where there is ‘write a slogan and win a refrigerator’ contest on. While Farhan wants to fill the form, Konkana is quite cynical about such contests. They have a conversation about this before he fills the form, which loosely translated in English sounds like this-
Konkana sarcastically asks- “Do you think if I fill this form, there is a chance that I would win the fridge?”
To which Farhan responds-“I know that if you DO NOT fill the form, there is NO chance that you will ever win the fridge”
I watched “Luck by chance” on the night of 4th Feb and this particular dialogue lingered in my mind the whole night- and will always- whenever I encounter a similar situation of filling forms, writing captions, etc to participate in any contest or lucky draws.

I had an afternoon flight to Hyderabad on 5th (Thursday) and was scheduled to travel to couple of other places, returning to Bangalore only on Sunday.

I landed at the Hyderabad airport and was on the bus to the arrival terminal, when I switched on my phone to call up my wife. But before I could dial her number, the phone rang up. It was an unknown mobile number- I thought it was the driver who had come to pick me up. But a female voice greeted me. I suspected it to be one of those spam credit card/loan kind of marketing calls and didn’t pay half attention to it. It didn’t help that the signal was also poor. Her voice was cracking and I couldn’t make sense of anything that she said.

As I was stepping out of the bus I heard her say something like “he wants to meet you”.
I exclaimed “Who?” and then I added “may I know who is on the line?”
She started all over again “I am Aamir Khan’s assistant and I got your number off the blog. You are one of the short listed candidates that he would like to meet. How are you placed at 4.30 PM tomorrow? Can you come to IIM Bangalore campus?”

I was numb with excitement, all I could manage was “whattt…how…wow”
Taking a deep breath I pulled my self together “are you sure?” “ya” she said in a very matter of factly manner, “so can you make it?”.
“Yes, yes” I almost screamed as if the opportunity was slipping out of my hands “I mean, I am supposed to be travelling tomorrow, but I will cancel all of that. Ya…ya I will be there. Thank you so much. I can’t believe it”.
While she wanted to hang up, I foolishly let my suspicion out “I hope this is not a kind of prank call or something, because I am cancelling my travel and rescheduling my whole trip”.
“No. It is true and you can bring along a person with you. Only one” she said in a tone that you can add a smiling face to.

After this, I wanted to call the whole world to announce my luck. Didn’t know where to start. The first call was to Tanu, my wife. Before she could ask me “have you reached?” I mumbled out “We are meeting Aamir tomorrow?” “Stop kidding” she said. “No. God promise. Keep yourself free in the second half. I have to make couple of calls, I will call later…Yahoooo” I screamed like an excited kid

I walked out of the arrival gate with a spring in my step and in all my excitement missed out the cabbie who was standing with a board displaying my name on it.

For the next hour and half or so that I was in the cab, I was busy on the phone. The driver’s name was Ali and all this while I could see him intermittently glancing at me in his rear view mirror- especially each time I mentioned “Aamir Khan” in my phone conversations.
When finally his curiosity crossed the threshold, he asked me “Sir, are you talking about the cine star Aamir Khan?” “Yes” I replied proudly.
“But why does he want to meet you?” he asked me in an offensive way- like what has such a big star to do with a looser like you. “Just like that” I acted snotty.
“Sir, who apna bhi favourite hai. Apne Ghajini dekha kya? Ekdum mast acting kiya hai. Apna bhi salaam bolna usko” “Bilkul” I said thinking about how movies connect each one of us, across geographies, religions, languages and economic backgrounds.
I reached my hotel quite late that night. I was completely exhausted and had an early morning flight. Even a hot shower could not put me to sleep. Random thoughts about the upcoming meeting kept playing in my mind.

I wanted to revisit the place where it all started. So I switched on my laptop and logged on Aamir’s blog. I have been reading him since the beginning, but he is quite an infrequent blogger. Like with movies he posts after long gaps. Thankfully, unlike movies the gap between posts is just in months.

His last blog is titled ‘Thank You’ and was posted on 16th Jan. where he thanks the readers for liking Ghajini and credits the audiences for making it the biggest grosser of all times. He also apologises for writing after so long and tries to explain how busy he has been. Then he goes on to talk about his stay on the IIM Bangalore campus and how he enjoying it and finally getting some time to catch up on his sleep.
What was interesting and kind of news making stuff was what his closing lines said. I am quoting them as they appear on the blog-

“Would like to meet some of you who live here in Bangalore. So post me your contact details if you are up to it and I’ll try and work it out”

Almost instinctively I wrote a comment on the post- “Hi Aamir, Congrats for the success of Ghajini- though it is not one of my favourite Aamir Khan movies. I am glad you like 'India after Gandhi' and more so about the fact that you like to read on varied topics- its people like you who have redefined the way we look at actors. I would (and more importantly my wife) would love to meet up with you. If your schedule allows you, please do call me on xxxxxxx. All the best for your future endeavours”

There were some eight thousand five hundred plus comments on this post, thousands of them had people leaving behind their contact details and pleading Aamir to meet up with them.

I knew Aamir is an avid reader and has a keen interest in History. Next morning, I picked up‘The Life of Mahatma Gandhi’ by Louis Fischer from the Landmark bookstore at Hyderabad airport. On the first page I wrote this small note in my best possible hand writing- “Be the change, said Bapu. And you are one of the very few ‘change agents’ of our generation. Love and luck”

Aamir spent over an hour and half with us. Sporting a schoolboy-ish haircut, dressed in an ‘ed hardy’ kind of pink t-shirt and loose faded sky blue jeans he could easily pass of as one of the students of the institute.

The first thing he said was “yaar lets sit closer, these chairs are too far pull your chairs closer”- that really broke the ice.

As it was his last day of shoot in Bangalore, his in-laws were also there. He affectionately introduced them as “amma” and “appa” and ordered chairs for them as well.

One thing which I noticed about Aamir is his ability to connect with his fans. He made the whole setting so comfortable and casual.

We bombarded him with questions about three idiots, slumdog millionaire, rahman’s oscar nomination, movies that he is very proud of and not so proud of, fitness tips, about his stay on campus, his next directorial plans, upcoming movies, politics, his thoughts on a sequel to Andaz apna apna, his dream team to work on a movie, and many more.

Interestingly, he wanted to know our views on what worked for and what did not work for Mangal Pandey. While we were talking about Mangal Pandey, I got a feeling that he really felt for the movie and wanted it to work.

He also shared his interest in the epic tale of Mahabharata. We all got a taste of his perfectionism and importance he assigns to preparation and research when he said “A story of that scale would take at least five years for research and prep itself”, before he could finish, all of us unanimously screamed “Noooo… we want to see you at least once a year, please don’t deprive us of that”

I don’t think I can put down Aamir’s views on all these things, but what I want to tell is the fact that he was brutally straight and honest in his opinions. Not even once, during this whole session, did he mince his words or sounded guarded. He even jokingly asked us “I hope none of you is a journalist here. Yaar yeh sab kahin likhna mat. Hungama ho jayega”

All this while I was thinking about this parallel-y “How much has this industry changed. Five years ago could we even think of meeting our favourite superstars, let alone like this? Technology and blogging in particular have changed so much. What is more interesting is that the established stars like Aamir and Amitabh have embraced it so well. This is definitely the changing face of the Indian cinema, a new era and I am so lucky to be witnessing this first hand”

I got his autograph on Ishan’s flipbook. He read my quote on the book and gave me a modest smile.

Aamir has a very special way of making people feel important, for instance, when he asked us about our suggestions to improve his blog. He listened to each one of us so carefully, as if taking a mental note of all that we are saying. His genuine desire to make the platform more useful for us could be felt effortlessly.

It was a dream come true for a movie fanatic like me. While we were walking back to the main gate of the institution, it suddenly stuck to Tanu “Oh I forgot to ask him- among thousands of mails how did he choose to meet the ten of you? I am thinking what must have been the selection criteria or was it a kind of lucky draw”.

“I know the answer” I said, “How?” she was curios.

“Luck by chance” I believe.

15 comments:

Lalitha.S said...

Gurudevji--Thanks for your lovely blog post on your meeting with Aamir. I'm a book buff plus lover of good cinema---which is simply one of the reasons I'm a fan of Aamir.I'm a nationalist too, quite like him, more middle classy in attitude, not elitist--quite like Aamir. To me the man is much more than an actor.
Once again, thanks for your latest piece. Will now follow up on your other posts.

Incidentally, I too blog[infrequently] at www.lalipond.blogspot.com. If you visit it you may notice that I have written a favourable review of Mangal Pandey, a film I and my husband loved[and so did some friends], despite a few negatives.

I need to blog there more often and also tell my pals about it. Most of the time, I'm writing on messageboards all over the web.Incidentally
I've been at Aamir's blog right from it's beginning as lagaandvd.com.

kamal said...

I hope this is a wonderfull day in your life...

Keep going buddy, this is just a beginning, one fine day your dream will come true and you may make a movie with Aamir khan .....you are in the right track....nothing can stop you.....God bless you.

Cheers !!!
Kamal

Vikrant said...

Well ... if i could think of one person who completely deserved to have any such meeting with Aamir (or for that matter any film star) - it would be you.

More than calling it 'Luck By Chance', I would call it 'Luck by Choice!' 'cos you made it happen!

Keep it going mate!

- your blog fan!

Anonymous said...

Hello there!

I read about this blog on Aamir Khan's blog.
Enjoyed reading about your meeting with Aamir very much.
Also, you're a gifted writer. I think I'll bookmark your blog. :-)
Well done!

Saiyed Saamir Hasnain said...

I reached Delhi on 4th Feb'09 at around 9:30 AM and found my cell was missing (I lost it while changing Bus).Mummy was getting admitted to AIIMS that day so did not waste time in looking for it. I believe you might have tried calling me as well as you normally do. Well you made it by chance and missed it by luck. I know that you use to be a die hard fan of Salman Khan since starting but always use to like Aamir's work too. You have very distinctive knowledge of our film Industry, you are a perfect critic.

I see this incident as an initial step towards the your dream.

Hope you cherish that moment!!!!

nick said...

Bro.....awesome experience....i also had a glimpse of Amir and Raju Hirani when i was coming out of the class last week at IIM. This is a real good experience after when we have njoyed Andaz apna apna hundred times. hahahaha....hope to catch u up on the wekend!....take care... Happy

SALONI said...

It was so good to read to read this post on your blog. You have written your experience so well!!!
I am sure it would have been very memorable and a wonderful one for you!!!

Prabhash said...

I ask the same question that I ask so often- does interesting things happen all the time to some people or do some people make anything interesting? Great piece. Not because it is about Aamir Khan, because it is about you.

Cheers,

Prabhash

gurudev prasad said...

@ Lalitha: Thanks for dropping in. You write very well. You should write more often

@Kamal: Thanks for the encouragement and wishes brother.

@Vikrant: What can I say sir I am humbled

@Anonymous: Glad you liked the post. Do you blog as well?

@Nick: It’s long since we met. Let’s catch up brother.

@Saloni: I am impressed- you write on so many topics. Keep the ink flowing.

@Prabhash: You said it all- it’s not about Aamir, it’s about me- an ordinary guy meeting his favourite star.

gurudev prasad said...

@Smair: Bhai, my happiness is incomplete unless I share it with you. I will pray for ma.

PS: I used to love Salman as a kid, its sad though that today he does everything except acting

Bhavik said...

Nice to read such a lovely experience...i jst read it 1st time your post...BlogAdda gave me your link...thx to it and thx to you for narrating this in a nice glueee way...

Shree said...

Thanks for sharing one of your memorable days with us Guruprasad.
You are very right when u say 'Aamir has a very special way of making people feel important'. His blog and his efforts to arrange the bloggers meet says it all! Am a big aamir fan too and hang around on his blog. got this link from there. Cheers :)

Shazia said...

Hi Guru,
Got the link of your blog from Aamir Khan's blog. You surely are a lucky guy that you got a chance to sit and talk to him. I met him earlier today (for the second time) while he came to attend the Lang Lang concert at the Homi Bhabha Auditorium. He is just amazing.

Arcopol Chaudhuri said...

Loved the post. I'm really happy for you and its surprising, I don't even know you. Not for one moment did I feel jealous...;)

Its amazing what things blogs can do, and you just experienced it. The web has clearly crumbled all walls between stars and humble earthlings. :)

Its not Luck by Chance.

It is written.

;)

gurudev prasad said...

Hi Arcopol,

Thanks for the comment. I can't agree with you more that "The web has clearly crumbled all walls between stars and humble earthlings"

I loved what you have written in the "about me" section of your blog.

Keep writing.