Column: Brushing Shoulders with Celebrities

(Please note: This is my weekly column that was published in The Goan on Saturday)

Mumbai is well regarded as the financial capital of India. It may sound clichéd, but it is indeed the city of dreams. It is a city that has hosted and will continue to host celebrities who’ve made their way into tinsel town from different parts of the country. In fact, Bollywood has elevated Mumbai to international fame with its entertaining films. So, when I go to Goa for a vacation, I am quizzed by family, friends and neighbours who are curious to know if I’ve met any celebrities during my stay in this metropolitan city. The answer is – yes, a lot of them.

When I was still in college, I had taken up an internship with a production house that used to make television series including Dill Mill Gayye. In between sets, I used to find myself chatting with actors from this soap opera. Aspiring actors and actresses would often visit the production house for auditions. Some, I recognized and made a conversation, but to a lot of them, I just delivered a smile.

Earlier, I would be excited every time I spotted an actor. I was thrilled about seeing them in person. Back home, these guys were only limited to a television set or a movie theatre. Now, they can easily be spotted. There was this one time I saw Arjun Rampal and went speechless for the next one whole hour. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

If you love hanging out around Bandstand, you should never miss the crowd that desperately waits for Salman Khan to come to his balcony and wave to the public. They hope to get a glimpse of the star for real, and many a times, a lot get lucky. In Bandra, it’s also Shah Rukh Khan’s Mannat that attracts loads of people. Come towards Juhu, and its Amitabh Bachchan’s mansion that gets captured in photographs along with happy, smiling faces.

A few weeks ago, I stepped into a beauty store and the lady next to me was a small screen actor. I spared her a glance and then another one. The second look exchanged a smile. It was my way of saying, “Hey, I’ve seen you on television”. The most recent celebrity encounter was when Imtiaz Ali entered the same restaurant as I for a Sunday brunch, and sat at the table next to mine. I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to smile, but I eventually did. The director initiated a conversation that was limited to the food we ordered. I couldn’t stop smiling, and spent all evening narrating the story to my friends.

You don’t need to be working with an agency to meet actors and actresses in this city. Often, they will be walking beside you in areas such as Bandra, Four Bungalows, Lokhandwala, Goregaon or even Malad. Most of them go unnoticed simply because they look like any other Mumbaikar. So the next time I come to Goa, you know I would have seen and met many more celebs.

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