I’ve never made a conscious effort to try to follow what's trendy. But more often than not, I've caught myself in the midst of something popular.
My earliest memories of a trendsetter that we were all mesmerised by would have to be Michael Jackson, who I think has been the biggest pop icon I’ve seen in my lifetime. I was jealous of Ashwin Shetty's ringlets because there was a one per cent chance of his family allowing a 10-year-old to grow his hair to MJ length. We all wanted our pants a little shorter, wanted to wear that one glove. And every one of us has tried to do the moonwalk.
A close second for us boys would be Jackie Chan. If only we could find his kimono as easily as we found Spidey suits, we would dress up for all his films. I think all the karate classes that originated at that time owe him royalty. Ashwin and I would break into a mock fight after every one of his movies, and run around screaming “Heeee-yaaaa!” drunken style.Speaking of running around, how many of you have run around in a circle lifting your legs high enough to hit your backside? Just like Monty in Om Shanti Om from Karz — another hit at that time.
Movies have always played an important role in showcasing the next most popular, well, anything. Back then I didn’t have the slightest idea that some of that ‘anything’ would one day model itself on me.
It started with Hip Hip Hurray in 1998. Eleven years later, people still come up to me and say “Hi, Mazhar!” That was my name in the series that every kid aspiring to be ‘that 12th grader’ watched. Why, a bunch of 25-year-olds sang the title track of the show for me while I was singing I will survive for them at the shooting of that party sequence in Rock On!!
From there on, strange things started happening. Channel [V] wanted a boy next door and they saw him in me. Professionals were hired to get me in tune with different trends from across the globe, and the next few years with them felt like Trinity’s helicopter lesson in The Matrix.
Films crept up to me somewhere in-between that time with Channel [V] and before I knew it I was three films old. Initially, I was just testing the waters and believed that all you needed to make it in the movies was acting talent. Somewhere along the way I had forgotten what Rishi Kapoor had done for me in the past, but it all came back with Rock On!!, from the styling to the camera work to the music to the sound and set design. I was part of the trendiest and most popular film of 2008.
I’ve now set sail on the mother ship of trend-setting, as related to me by the guiding light for this editorial project. I’m not taking that too seriously and am going to allow my subconscious to take captaincy. I’ll just be myself and loyal to what inspires me, and enjoy being caught in the middle of something popular. Yet again.