Once I was thrown out of a film shoot because Aishwarya Rai (she was not Mrs Bachchan then) would not stop talking.
I had been promised an interview with Ash and had dashed to Andheri Sports Complex where Khakee was being filmed a little past 6 pm. She was closeted in her make-up van. She emerged a couple of hours later, and was immediately whisked away to record a cancer awareness message.
The chase continued for a good couple of hours before Rajkumar Santoshi called for a ‘break’. Ash sank into a chair opposite me, out of breath, but not out of words. I only had to ask one question. Her answer covered the next five that I had jotted on my memory page.
By the time I was able to ask a second question, the AD was hurrying her up for the next shot. I prepared for a ‘break’ in our conversation. But she was in no hurry to return to the arclights. She continued to talk.
‘You better leave,’ the AD was back after a while. Ash nodded to indicate that she was on her way. But continued with our interview.
The harried publicist who had invited me over, then butted in to tell me that Ash was wanted, pronto. I’d have to continue my interview later.
“No problem,” I shrugged. “I’ll wait till she finishes with her shot.”
“Why don’t you return tomorrow?” he suggested.
“No, wait, I’ll be back soon,” Aishwarya urged, as she strolled away.
I settled back for another long wait. The late publicist, the still-mourned Rajendra Rao, almost hauled me out of my chair. His usual smile had been replaced by a dark frown. “Why did you keep her away from the shoot?” he snapped.
“I didn’t stop her, she chose to wait and answer a few questions,” I snapped back.
“Well, I hope Rajji (director Rajkumar Santoshi) waits. He’s so exasperated that he was threatening to walk out. If that happens, Keshu (producer Keshu Ramsay) will strangle you. You better leave,” I was told.
Since I had been sitting with my back to the camera field, I had no idea what was happening behind my back. But Rao’s ominous words had me scurrying home without any arguments.
I called the next day to enquire if the shooting had continued. It had, Rao assured me, but advised me to stay away.
I had to go into print with half an interview but given Ash’s elaborate answers, I didn’t fall short of matter.
Sadly, in the six years since, Ash’s deluge of words has dried to a trickle even without an exasperated Rajji on the scene. She doesn’t like mailers or phoners. But a rushed schedule around the globe doesn’t encourage long chats. One-on-one interactions have made way for free-for-all press meets and robotic replies.
So the wait is on…