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Call yug ki kahaani

Ashok Rai writes on his most horrifying and delightful phone experiences and how easy it is to organise star mulaqats.
Hindustan Times | By Ashok Rai, Mumbai
UPDATED ON APR 07, 2008 06:32 PM IST

Some are born with silver cell phones in their mouth, others aren't. But friends, sleek cells or not, we're all insaan log.

Surprise surprise, so is the star set. They have their blacker than coal moods and use language ranging from the Emily Post-like politesse to the unadulterated mc-bc.

To disclose a secret, a heroine with a barfi-sweet, gharelu image is an expert gandigaaliwaali. You get the picture then.

I’m just dialling into the subject: about how to organise meetings with heroes, heroines, directors. It’s all done through the phone to the interviewee, straight, direct, since most secretaries are more occupied in turning into film producers themselves. Not many do.

Accha, so I’ve detected a pattern in setting up these star mulaqats. First, you must possess a phone — there was a time when MTNL was very MEANTNL about allocating lines — and then you must possess the star’s phone number.

Mobile numbers are far preferable to landlines which are only answered by yells, “Khaaaali peeeli, idhar phone nahin karne ka kya. Bola na madame.. saheb.. nahaa rayela hai.. kya?.. alag ya saath mein? Tere ko kya, saala halqat.”

Receiver banged. It’s infinitely better to go to cell and back. Never mind if stars are unreachable, mostly. As for the sms route, you may be stranded in the Antarctica snows or being roasted for a meal by cannibals, but your msgs for emergency help always draw a blank. The only response may be from my Bhojpuri superstar pal Ravi Kissen saying, “ Ham dulhania ke lagey jaibo jaibo.”

No use crying over unanswered connections, no? Just for the record, I will tell you of my most horrifying and delightful phone experiences.

Great connections
Undoubtedly, the Bachchans were rumoured to have the best phone manners in the show world. Leave a message with the operator, and your call will be returned, if it is of any consequence.

Now, he’s best contactable on the sms and after all the perils he’s been going through, can’t even spell as well as he used to. Sad.

Source of constant amusement, a domestic help at Asha Bhosle’s Peddar Road apartment sounds as angry as the Mangeshkars do about the flyover. When I call, she renames me, “Asokraa.” Of late, she hasn’t been picking up the phone. That’s why I haven't been calling up Ashaji either. Shah Rukh Khan, he may be in any part of the world, but on a special day, he’ll get in touch, and make me realise I am not alone. Never.

Ego boost
Rishi Kapoor, after a couple of sunset Patialas, will always tell me what a good person I am, how he liked something I wrote, and that I deserve the entire crate of Emilion wine which will turn to vinegar, if I don’t drop by soon. Whenever I’m low, Chints boosts the shreds of my ego.

Kareena Kapoor, hot on the sms front, will respond “my dr hw u whr u luvz ksses, bk in a wk frm KlLmpr vmst mt sn”, but has never kept her word. But at least, she sends hrtwrmng endrments. Tabu, not regular, but when she does sms it’s with no agenda, no nothing, just keeping in touch. How u. How she?

Accessible quotient

Horror of horrors. Abhishek Bachchan, Katrina Kaif and Neha Dhupia are the wildest exceptions in the annals of phone history. They pick up the phone as soon as it rings and insist on yakking for the next two hours if not more. Not fun since they’re so accessible. Celina Jaitley, again more on sms than direct conversation, but yeah, we both know we’re just a phone call away. Bliss.

Rekha. Leave a message on the landline. If she cares for you, she’ll dial back, as real as life. Ram Gopal Varma. Suddenly rings up before he goes off to the gym, at 10 am, to say, “Gaaru, nothing.. nothing..was just missing your voice. So I called.. bye.. drop by when you’re in the suburbs.” I just hope he doesn’t say this to 10,000 other journalists.

Urmila Matondkar. Speaks with jaguar speed, has a blast laughing, disconnects, calls back on realising she didn’t give me a chance to get a word in.

Frustrating connections
Sushmita Sen and Aishwarya Rai are the uncrowned queens of Miss No Phone Universe. Anyone who can touch base with them, on first try, deserves to be garlanded with marigold garlands at a public function. Instead of Ms Sen and Ms Rai, Sister Neelam and Mr Hari singh will attend. Respectively.

Bath bath mein
Priyanka Chopra is never just a call away.. because she’s always having a bath. In a tub I hope. Her man Monday-Monday says, “Madame is busy in bath!” Sounds, well, strange.

Viveik Oberoi, accessible only a week before a film’s release, to talk about nothing but the film's release. Yawn.

Govinda. Tere mobile ki battery mari to main kya karoon?

Circa 8 pm, a man in Dilip Kumar’s bungalow, will say, “Just hold on.” The longest pause since Dilip Kumar in Devdas follows, you hear some shuffles, clashes of pots and pans in the kitchen, hours pass, it’s nearly dawn before the man says, “Saab toh so rahe hain.” At 4 am, I should think so.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali will talk only a day after his film’s release—or of his Paris opera’s —- only to those who have gone eclairs and toffees over his masterpiece. And that, in very brief, is yeh Call Yug ki kahani.

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