Seven cities, 12 hours. Abhishek Bachchan emerged on the other side of his record-breaking publicity tour tired but elated. HT City was with him all through.
12:05 East Delhi Mall, Ghaziabad Bang on time, Abhishek starts his marathon. “I’m excited, but as the thought starts sinking in that I have a record to break, I might get nervous,” he says. Also, in our Mercedes van are Sabbas Joseph, Andre Timmins from Wizcraft.
On the very first leg, he gets questions on the mixed response to Delhi-6. But like father, like son. Abhishek fields every question with a sweet smile. “That’s the power of the public. Films are made for them; they have the right to criticise. At least people have seen the film, and were moved enough to raise a debate. That’s bigger,” he says.
12:56 Spice Mall, Noida “Thanks for coming and that, too, on a Sunday afternoon,” Junior B waves at the crowd. The crew tries to meet his demand of mints and M&M candy.
13:55 PVR, Faridabad Ten minutes gone for a faulty lift. “Let’s climb the stairs,” he says. “North India has a different energy,” he adds.
15:16 PVR Saket Abhishek rues the “time lost in Faridabad”.
16:30 Ambience Gurgaon It’s a mela of girls screaming their lungs out. Abhishek darts in and out!
17:15 Airport to Chandigarh Sitting inside the Hawker private jet, provided by Bjets, we await ATS to give the green light as Abhishek scans through his mobile. “It surprises me... how is she [Aishwarya] managing to SMS me every 30 minutes saying ‘Have you eaten? How is it going? Please have water’. Same with dad [in Hyderabad] and mom [in Delhi],” he adds.
19:15 PVR Chandigarh The last hop as he creates a record by covering six cities in less than 12 hours. And the first call goes to his wife. “Wow! You’ve done it. Please wish everyone working on it,” he conveys Ash’s message, in her style, too!
22:15 Mumbai airport Cellphones off, seat belts in place, door locked... he’s the disciplined ‘first officer’. So what does luxury mean to Abhi? “To be able to play with my niece and nephew, to be with my loving wife, to have dinner with my family.”
22:45 PVR Juhu “Delhi-6 to Mumbai-7, we’ve made it,” grins Abhishek as the entire cast of Delhi-6 welcomes their hero. So what’s next? “A three city tour,” says Abhi. “Delhi-6 ain’t over yet.” But first, “a hot shower and ghar ka khana.”