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A hero in need

NS Ahuja narrates his tryst with the Bollywood actor, Dilip Kumar during one of his trip to a fashion show.

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NS Ahuja
NS Ahuja

We were at an exclusive fashion show that was being held next to a swimming pool. The twinkling lights in the calm waters, a ramp in the middle and the beautiful models in their sartorial elegance provided a perfect ambience.

Even as I tried to concentrate on the figures flitting by us, a speaker’s loud voice, far too close to my seat, kept pounding my eardrums. Thankfully, after a while, a short break was announced for the guests to either recharge their glasses or drain the merriment out of their system. I focused on the latter. By the time I located the rest room, a long queue had already formed. Slightly under the influence of some beverage, I stood swaying impatiently to do the needful.

As I was about to reach my destination, someone from behind me tapped my shoulder. I turned around. I couldn’t believe my eyes. There, right in front of me, was Dilip Kumar, the living legend of Hindi cinema. Was it an inflated bladder-induced illusion? No, it was Dilip Kumar all right, Mughal-e-Aazam’s Salim in the flesh.

“Excuse me, do you mind if I go first? The pressure is too much, you know,” he pleaded with a sheepish smile. It wasn’t his blood pressure that Dilip Kumar was referring to. So here was an all-time great asking me for a favour! Could I have said no? Never. I would have laid a red carpet for him all the way to the required furniture even at the cost of my (rising) discomfort).

"S-sure... b-by all means... please,” I answered. Before I could digest the scene, Dilip Kumar had jumped the queue and was up and away inside. I looked at him. There he stood, an icon, looking, at that point, so helpless and fallible. How physiological needs make us all equal.

On his return he looked relieved and cheerful. Recovered partially from his charismatic presence, I casually remarked, “Zaroorat sabhi ki!” (Everyone needs it!) He smiled, “Yes friend. Zara nawazi ke liye shukriya” (Thank you for your kindness). He shook my hand and gave a smiling nod to all. The next moment, Prince Salim was gone!

First Published: Feb 28, 2007 00:25 IST