Since 2007, I've been writing freelance for magazines. Mostly, I meet and interview celebrities - both local and international - and write about them from my HDB apartment.
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Not long ago, I became an indie bookseller. My company Booktique sells books to writers. .
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This is my first Bollywood coverage and my first red carpet experience too. It was quite memorable in many ways.
The event held at Resorts World Sentosa kick-started with a press conference that was scheduled at 2.45pm but only started about 2 hours later. The sofas in the background were removed at the last minute as I overheard the crew that the cast preferred to conduct the press conference like a standup comedy.
(Caption: Two of Bollywood Superstars: John Abraham (1st on the left) and Akshay Kumar (in sun glasses).
I met a few Indian women from the media. They were here for John Abraham. I was the only writer who got to speak to John. And after that, an Indian girl who resembles Priyanka Chopra came up to me excitedly and said, “you spoke to John!”
John was trying very hard to catch my questions. I thought I was loud enough. Anyway, it was nice to see him and interview him. I started watching his movies after the romantic comedy, Dostana.
This was a big press conference with too many cast and crew on the stage. It was hard for everyone to get a chance to speak. When the press conference ended, Akshay Kumar was the only one who stopped by the stage to take photos and sign autograph for the media. He’s truly a superstar.
The red carpet is scheduled at 7pm. As we still had some time to kill, we were escorted by RWS staff to a room for refreshment. At about 6.45pm, we made our way to the red carpet area which by now was crowded with fans and media. Again, the stars arrived more than an hour late. After the long delay during the press conference, some of the media were getting impatient.
When the first starlet appeared, she was led to one side where the big media were. Until a photographer shouted “This side please!” then we caught the attention of director, Sajid Khan who was escorting her. There was so much pressure from photographers from our side that Sajid was urging her to come over fast. She turned around to Sajid, looking frustrated. I thought I heard she said something to him. Mind you the speakers were blasting the soundtrack of Housefull 2 and I could still hear her voice from the other side. As more stars walked in, the fans went crazy.
(Caption: Bollywood frenzy: Shreyas Talpade trying to shake hand with a fan who thrust his hand out from the crowd).
By the time big brother, Akshay Kumar and John Abraham appeared, they went straight up to the stage bypassing the media pit. There was no closeup opportunity for two of the biggest names in the cast. One photographer commented that the fans had a better position than the media. At least, they got up close with them. How ironic!
Their presence on the stage was brief. The focus was on Akshay and John. One lucky woman at the side of the stage got a photo moment with John. When another male fan tried his luck, he was stopped by security. Media on our side were unlucky too. We were blocked by a female photographer near to the stage and two stocky security guards. One photographer hurled vulgarities at her. I saw her turned around, stared at her abuser and continued to snap away. Another photographer shouted “hey you! hey you!” to a security guard who blocked his view. The guard turned around, stared at him and pointed his finger at him. Later, I heard the photographer complaining to a RWS staff on duty.
When John was about to leave the stage, the media on our side were shouting out his name to get his attention. I was shouting like crazy to pop a question or two to him. My photographer was backing me up. He didn’t turn around to acknowledge our calling. He just made his way down the stage to the auditorium where the world premiere of HouseFull 2 was about to start. How could he not hear anyone of us or other media who were calling him?
With John’s exit, I ended my long day work. It was a tad frustrating with the delay for the entire event and disappointing that I couldn’t ask him more questions. But I’m happy to have my first Bollywood experience.
Housefull 2 open at cinemas on 6th April.