While campaigning for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Darjeeling, Hema Malini had a strange experience - passing through a snaky mountainous road, the actress-politician was stunned to suddenly hear a man's voice call out her pet name 'Hemu'.
"Just a few people very close to me call me that. I haven't heard anyone outside my family address me as 'Hemu'," Hema, who was campaigning there Sunday, told IANS.
"When I heard that name being called out in the crowd, I quickly turned around to see who it was. But the man had vanished. Woh parbaton mein kho gaya (he disappeared in the mountains)," she added.
Since that old private name has been called out in the wilderness, Hema is haunted by the unique experience of the warm intimacy of a stranger reaching out to her in a crowd. "It was like someone I knew in the past calling out to me," she said.
Hema says she longs for people around her to loosen up and be relaxed with her.
"After so many years in the film industry I'm tired of being called 'Hemaji' all the time. So boring! Not that I want strangers and acquaintances to act over-familiar with me. But there's a fun side to me which only those very close to me know. When I'm with my daughters on a holiday I become one of the girls instead of their mother," she said.
At 60, Hema remains unimpressed by her aura.
"I've been campaigning round the clock for my party and I am amazed that people still come in droves to see me when I am no longer that beautiful. But that aura you talk about bores me. I want to have fun. Instead of Hemaji I want to be Hemu."