Hosting an award function is probably the most difficult and challenging thing I have ever done. It’s challenging for me because I am petrified of stage. I know, it may sound strange knowing that I come from a political background. I made my debut on stage really early. I would listen to speeches at the time when no words made sense to me and I couldn’t even utter a single word.
Many years later, I must admit I did try and muster courage to stand up in front of the mike and speak. Even after being totally prepared, I was always at a loss of words. After a few honest attempts, I retired. I knew the stage wasn’t for me — a thousand eyes staring at you could have you speechless.
Many years later, I started acting, and after a few years, I got an offer to host an award function. All the ghosts came back to haunt me. A stage, thousand eyes and having to talk were reasons enough to turn down the offer. A chance to host our own industry at an award function was a big honour, and my own fears had lead me into not accepting the job. I knew I had to fight these ghosts on my own. For the next one year, I kept psyching myself that if I ever get another chance, I should just grab the opportunity. It was the only way to battle these bhoots.
A year passed, and I accepted to be the host at IIFA-Bangkok. I was most relieved to know that Bomsey (that’s what I call Boman Irani) was my co-host. I knew I was in safe hands. I remember pouring all my fears into his cup when we met for coffee. Few years of being shameless in front of the camera had helped me gain some confidence, but Bomsey was the man who took the lead.
He guided me on how to conduct myself on stage, how to throw my voice and to make sure there was clarity in what I said. He made me rehearse the script a thousand times. The D-Day arrived. My knees were shaking as I heard our names called out. I walked in and time just flew and everything worked to clockwork precision. With the overwhelming response we got, I thought I didn’t do badly at all. Finally, I had won my first battle.
After Bangkok, I hosted the IIFA at Macau and Sri-Lanka and this time, we had the company of the gracious Lara Dutta (how can God give someone so beautiful so much of confidence, and when it came to me, he suffered from amnesia!). In these three years of hosting I realised one thing about each of us.
No one can be as confident as Lara on stage, no matter what function it is.
All those thousand rehearsals Bomsey did with me were more for him to get over his nervousness than to help me.
I killed my ghost to become a host.