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When the Big B was on 'standby'

The tension in the air on Saturday evening when we entered the Marriott, to attend the book launch of Additional Commissioner of Police, Brijesh Singh's 'The Quantum Siege', was palpable.

“Has Mr Bachchan arrived?” we’d enquired of the doorman. It was 8.30 pm and we had been told that Amitabh Bachchan and Rakesh Maria would jointly release the book at 8 pm. We had rushed across the city, braving many a traffic snarl, only to arrive terribly late.

After all, it was well known that AB arrives on the dot of the appointed hour. But our hosts looked sheepish. “Well, er, actually Mr Bachchan’s on standby,” they said, “Mr Rakesh Maria has been delayed. He’s on official duty with India’s Home Minister Rajnath Singh.”

Brijesh Singh, Rakesh Maria and Amitabh Bachchan. PIC/SATYAJIT DESAI
Brijesh Singh, Rakesh Maria and Amitabh Bachchan. Pic/Satyajit Desai

We pinched ourselves. This was the first time we had heard a statement like ‘Mr Bachchan’s on standby’. And we were sure it would be the last. After all, how often would one of the world’s most legendary personalities, be kept waiting?

But such is the graciousness of the star, that he waited patiently at his home across from the venue of the book launch, and when he was informed of the Police Commissioner’s arrival, he’d shown up. All six feet two inches of mega star voltage, wrapped in an off white shawl.

Hussain Zaidi
Hussain Zaidi

From then, it was lights, camera and action as Maria joked that he was now alarmed at the prospect of granting leave to his officers for literary festivals, given their literary ambitions.

Humour apart, you have to hand it to the dashing, newly turned author Brijesh Singh, who managed to burn the candle at both the ends while wielding his lathi. He had written Quantum Siege (a book about the Lashkar-E-Taiba) in two months flat.

As his friend and comrade-in-arms, the renowned crime writer and publisher Hussain Zaidi, whose imprint Blue Salt was co-publisher recalled, “He is that rare creature who can wax eloquent on ‘the chaos theory’ where the beating of a butterfly’s wing could cause a tornado in Toronto, even as he rues about juggling the demands of being an author on a deadline, after putting in a full day’s work at the office.”

Delivering in 16 days
An interesting nugget that emerged from Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar’s meeting with the leading lights of the Film and TV industry at the Sahyadri on Saturday, was that when the minister met Mahesh Kamath, head of the soon to be launched Epic channel, who complained of the abject inaction on the part of the UPA government while granting Epic its license said, “Whereas the previous regime took 16 months to deliver results, I will promise action in 16 days.”

Anand Mahindra Prakash Javadekar Mukesh Ambani
Anand Mahindra, Prakash Javadekar and Mukesh Ambani

That’s all very fine and good, we say, but isn’t Epic jointly owned by no less than Mukesh Ambani and Anand Mahindra, two of corporate India’s most celebrated biz men? Did they really have to face such apathy for their worthy enterprise at the pervious regime? The mind boggles.

Girls just wanna take selfies
Thursday night saw us bring in Hi Blitz Editor and glam girl Shalini Sharma’s birthday at her art-filled apartment in Bandra in the company of some of the city’s luscious ladies.

One of the many ‘selfies’ taken at Shalini Sharma’s dinner
One of the many ‘selfies’ taken at Shalini Sharma’s dinner

From Ekta Kapoor, Poonam Mahajan, Chhaya Momaya, Sarita Rai, Arti Surendranath, Rohini Iyer, Queenie Dhody, Malaika Khan, Poonam Dhillon and Krishika Lulla, amongst others, they were all there-sassy, successful vivacious women bonding over gossip as spicy as the Hyderabadi kebabs and conversation as sparkling as the champagne served.

And the highlight of the evening? The amount of selfies taken. Get a dozen attractive women together and guess what they’ll do all evening? Yes, shoot pix of themselves! Better than shooting each other down we say.

Humshakals and other tortures
Nothing can bring home the abysmal impact of Humshakals than our friend, writer and image consultant Aroona Bhatt’s hilarious account of seeing it over the weekend in the company of the movie’s star Esha Gupta at a local cinema.

Esha Gupta
Esha Gupta

“Four of us ladies mustered our guts and went to watch Humshakals - only because we got free tickets,” she says. “The theatre was occupied by Esha Gupta’s family of seven and a half - and us 4 - clear idiots.

We laughed and laughed through the film - at nothing but ourselves for what we had done to our Saturday night,” she says about her folly, adding: “Much to our relief, the movie ended and all of us - seven and a half + four - descended to ground level where all our cars were parked.

Aroona Bhatt
Aroona Bhatt

Now comes the real joke. Esha dives into her waiting BMW, like the paparazzi would tear her apart and the fans would grope her till she tore. Four of us, looked around to see if we had missed a crowd hidden somewhere by beefy security guards!

Of course, there were none, writes Bhatt, adding “Well done #EshaGupta. May your dream come true. May you truly be given occasions to dive into your car with REAL fans around, not us - 4 ladies who had nothing better to do on a Saturday evening!” Ouch!

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