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Spotting the stars

Step into these coffee shops and look around, you might just see the next Shah Rukh Khan. This is where Bollywood meets, greets and hangs out.

entertainment Updated: Jan 20, 2011 15:50 IST
Serena Menon

Everybody loves a success story. And Bollywood is notorious for breeding one too many. Apparently, Anil Kapoor lived in a chawl; Amitabh Bachchan was labelled an awkwardly tall actor with too deep a baritone; Akshay Kumar was a chef; and Shah Rukh Khan came to Mumbai when he didn’t have even the money to pay his chaiwallah outside Jamia Milia Islamia Institute, Delhi.

Frequently thought questions — who first spotted them? Did anyone actually spot them? Were they even worth spotting? Well, no one’s sure what happened back then, but we do know of locations tucked into tinsel town revealed only to those from the metropolis. Here you stand a good chance of spotting tomorrow’s Shahid Kapoor, if not Luv Sinha.

Those who aren’t already acquainted with the infamous lanes of Mumbai’s Bollywood-glamour-central suburb — welcome to Andheri! Against the mass misconception, Bollywood stugglers don’t visit these places to get noticed.

Popular hubs
Joints like Café Coffee Day (CCD), Barista and Mocha in Oshiwara, Olive in Bandra, Prithvi in Juhu and Costa Coffee in Andheri are hubs for meeting people, and offices for artistes who don’t have one. “There is a lady who remains seated at a table at the Barista in Oshiwara. She comes in the morning with a laptop; meets people all day and leaves in the evening. The coffee shop also doesn’t mind as whoever comes to meet her ends up drinking a cup of coffee,” says Karan Agarwal, who once worked as a creative consultant writer for a TV production house located in the area.

These places are ideal for a young woman of 23 from Delhi to visit when she is asked to attend a ‘Bollywood business meeting’. “I’m not sure if I would want to go to a producer’s house or office. I’ve heard tales about these situations; I’m safer at a coffee shop,” says Ankita Parol, a struggler from Delhi (name changed).

To be spotted
Even in Madhur Bhandarkar’s film Fashion, which tried replicating the Bollywood struggler’s life, Priyanka Chopra was seen strolling into this iconic coffee shop (CCD). Places like Olive, Bandra are for strugglers with a good bank balance. At places like these, starlets and young aspiring hunks stand a chance of bumping into Salman Khan or Ranbir Kapoor, if not a producer or director. The idea is to be seen; not necessarily noticed, but spotted.

“Usually strugglers go to coffee shops for meetings. But they also go to places like Prithvi theatre to chill. They’ll randomly spot a director conversing with competing newcomers and intrude, happy to get a role,” says starlet Neera Wadhwa. Just Around The Corner in Bandra too used to be a popular spot until it shut recently for renovation, while Aarey Milk Colony is audition central. The Mocha coffee shop in Andheri, located in what is called the ‘Sykes gym walah building’, is for the well-off strugglers. The Barista adjacent to CCD at Oshiwara is a popular spot for TV strugglers. Ekta Kapoor has been seen here a lot.

Paying a visit to such places teaches onlookers a lot about this breed called ‘actors’ — they’re in love with themselves, they think they’re already stars and always have their act on. After all, they do stand a chance of being seen on the big screen tomorrow by this very audience. Even if only one-in-a-million.

Fave Bollywood struggler spots
Barista and Café Coffee Day, Oshiwara: Both these coffee shops double up as offices for up-and-coming actors.

Prithvi Theatre Café, Juhu: The cafe is where you’ll find directors engrossed in talks with budding actors and actresses.

Olive, Bandra: Here, newcomers expect to be spotted by the upper crust of the industry.