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The art of celebrity spotting

When face to face with an icon, it’s tough to play it cool

brunch Updated: May 19, 2018 22:24 IST
Rehana Munir
Rehana Munir
Hindustan Times
celebrity spotting,Beatles concert,fangirl
Celebrities don’t just provoke hysteria in crazy fans but also strange reactions from regular people(Photo imaging: Parth Garg)

Shrieking teens at Beatles concerts. MJ lovers passing out at the sight of the Thriller. Janta by the busload standing outside the Bachchan bungalow for their Sunday darshan. Celebrities don’t just provoke hysteria in crazy fans but also strange reactions from regular people who encounter them all of a sudden. Except on rare occasions, like in Notting Hill (1999), where the superstar played by Julia Roberts isn’t recognised by the stockbroker played by Hugh Bonneville, it’s the privilege and the curse of popularity. I don’t really count myself as anyone’s diehard fan, but I’ve surprised myself and perhaps scared a celeb or two in chance encounters.

Sachin bowls a bouncer

It was over a decade ago. I was meeting a friend for chai at the still-new Olive restaurant in Bandra. As I walked to the loo, I saw that unmistakable mop of curls and cherubic face. (No, I don’t usually infantilise sporting legends. Sachin is different.) I’d never met him before. I returned to my chai companion, breathless like one of the aforementioned teens at a Beatles concert, and rang my younger sister, who appeared instantly. Together we tried

I’ve swooned over Sridevi. Giggled at Leander Paes. Fumbled around Arundhati Roy. Celebs, beware

to approach the man-boy-legend. And discovered that we’re what bouncers are for.

When our bill was finally presented and we had to leave, I decided to hang on outside anyway, hoping to say hello when our stalkee departed. (Snigger all you like. I’m an ’80s kid from Mumbai.) After what seemed like an eternity the restaurant manager opened the little blue door a crack, saying “he” had finished dinner and we could now meet him. And so we did. I remember saying, “It would be an honour if I could touch you.” Yes, I said that. Yes, I was sober. It didn’t feel like that once I left the restaurant.

No reservations

Usually one is better equipped to handle sudden brushes with icons. My sister and I were once waiting at the airport to pick up a friend when we noticed a tall, rakish fellow appear, cigarette dangling from lips. It couldn’t be! Gourmet chef of the wicked charm and New York swag, swigging off strange bottles and slagging off pretentious connoisseurs. Anthony Bourdain, at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport. What were the chances? We’d play it cool, we thought. Instead we rattled on about that episode of his show where he and his brother return to their native France, commenting on a particular shot where he stands by a fence. Sheesh. No. Some of us are never equipped.

Then there’s the shameless ogling. The minute I set foot in Sri Lanka, I began to look for Sanga. On billboards, I mean

Another time, I was returning from a Goa holiday when I noticed a familiar apparition in white, standing quietly among those waiting to receive travellers at arrivals. Propelled by a mad love for his poetry, I charged in his direction. “Thank you, Gulzar sahab, for making reality a little less mundane,” is what

I should have said. Instead, I mumbled something unintelligible as he graciously shook my hand and then patted me on the head. A high point in my literary journey.

Serendip – The island of lucky finds

Then there’s the shameless ogling. The minute I set foot in Sri Lanka (the old Arabic name for it is Serindip, the root word for ‘serendipity’), I began to look for Sanga. On billboards, I mean. He was curiously absent from most. And then at a beach near Galle, there he was, live. Kumar Sangakkara on holiday with family. Swimming in the same stretch of the Indian Ocean as my friends and I. All weekend. Occasionally seen on a yellow surfboard. Enough said. This time, I was on foreign shores. I curbed my enthusiasm and said to him while shyly posing for a selfie: “I’ve been hoping to see you ever since I arrived, I should have asked for world peace instead.” I stay up at night wondering what I should have said instead. Sanga, if you’re reading this, I was trying to be cool. Forgive me.

Then there’s the time I spotted Sonia Gandhi at Heathrow. Luckily for her, she was walking briskly away, and I had no time to give chase and say something utterly idiotic. I’ve swooned over Sridevi. Giggled at Leander Paes. Fumbled around Arundhati Roy. Playing it cool is clearly not my forte. Celebs, beware.

From HT Brunch, May 20, 2018

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First Published: May 19, 2018 21:05 IST