Have you run into celebrities with no premeditated calculations? It has always been interesting to observe how people react in different ways when they run into celebrities. A few recognize them straight away. A few brush past the celeb only to wonder if they had failed to recognize him or her because of lack of make-up or casual clothes. Then there are people who stalk them to catch a glimpse or to get their autograph or a quick interview and chatter excitedly about the chance encounter. There are yet others’ who even though they recognize the famous figure continue with their lives unmoved except for the initial flicker of recognition and flutter of excitement.
Years ago, when I was employed by a prestigious institution on the hills, with no deliberate planning or intention I became a spectator to a film shooting. The film was titled ‘Jodi’ and even though I did not know it would be a bilingual one, the cast caused quite a stir among the locals in Ooty also known as Udhagamandalam or the Nilgiris. Simran, the latest heart throb was the heroine and Prashanth, a popular south Indian actor with his own strong fan base, was the hero. During my free period on the first day of the shooting, I watched the crew from the window of the English Staffroom of Ooty Government Arts College with another female colleague. They had transformed the institution into a music college for the film and the heroine sat with a few friends waiting for her shot before she could pack up. We could not help but admire her curvaceous figure despite the envy that welled in us for some unexplained reason. I checked out the heroine’s co-star in silence as I did not want my colleague to judge me. Clad in black and white track suit, Prashanth did not look any different from how he looked on screen. The director gave the orders, the crew members shirked lethargy and knew what to do. As the hero made his way into the principal’s office, the extras were made to walk here and there in the quad to give a realistic touch to the setting. As the retakes bored us, we busied ourselves with what we had to do.
Later that day when I ran down the stairs during lunch break I think to make quick trip to the hostel, the man whom I was gazing at for almost an hour, through the staffroom window, came in the opposite direction through the door way. In a fraction of a second we crossed each other’s path and resumed our activities for the day without a backward glance or replay of the moment in our imaginative mind. I was wearing a mustard or sandal wood colour high neck blouse with half sleeve, same shade chiffon saree with small white flowers in it. As I was working as a Lecturer in English, I had combed my hair upwards and braided it with an elastic band worn at the end of the plait to hold it in its place. Ooty being a hill station, had the climate of England and hence it was necessary to protect the skin with moisturizer. Liberal application of cold cream made my skin oily in appearance; besides this kajal or eyeliner, bhindi and a dash of lipstick were the usual finishing touches on my face.
It is strange that to this day I remember ‘the-half-a-minute-face-to-face-encounter’ even after twenty years gap though there was no significant exchange or interaction between the celebrity and I. Besides this actor, I have had the opportunity of meeting other celebrities who were invited as chief guests or had run into them at other venues and politicians, during elections. Since I have a theory about everything, I think that what makes us cherish these chance encounters is that they belong to a world that we fantasize about and are beyond our reach.