Kehte hain agar kisi cheez ko dil se chaho toh puri kainaat use tum se milane ki koshish mein lag jati hai – Om Prakash Makhija (Shah Rukh Khan, in Om Shanti Om)
I first met Shah Rukh Khan in 2010, at a fashion week in Mumbai, where I was seated several rows away from him. As big a fan then as I am now, it took me ten minutes of contemplation and courage-mustering to get up and approach him. This was the same year and day that Shah Rukh Khan, Hrithik Roshan and Amitabh Bachchan did their little jig at the Karan Johar/Varun Bahl’s show and fashion week’s front row was sparkling with stardom. He was speaking to Saif when I went up; Kareena, Amitabh, Abhishek, Jaya, Hrithik and so many more Bollywood stars were all there. But on hearing that I was from Karachi he immediately stood up and greeted me warmly. It was a charming, friendly chat in which he gave me a hug and offered a photograph. Smartphones hadn’t come into our lives then (at least it wasn’t in mine) and with my friend Huma having disappeared I didn’t get my photo op. He offered me an interview if I would meet him after the show but as it ended and he was swept out of the venue by a swarming human shield. It didn’t happen.
I’ll take no shame in admitting that a Shah Rukh Khan interview has been foremost on my to-do list since then. Several (unsuccessful) trips to India later, I last year vowed only to return when I had a confirmation on an SRK interview. This should be a note to all writers/journalists: never give up. Impossible is nothing and then refer to the SRK quote mentioned above!
Tapu, Fareshteh and I at Dubai Airport, something like 2am on the morning of March 19.
But ‘barre barre shehron main aisi chhote chhotebaatein hoti rehti hain’ or in this case, ‘chhote chhote jahaz girtay rehtay hain’ – Raj Malhotra (SRK in DDLJ)
Our travel plans were doomed. The trip was confirmed on March 12, when I was in Lahore for fashion week. I applied for visa on March 14, when I got back to Karachi. The visa got caught up in some document confusion and on Tuesday, March 15 I was told that my papers were void. I applied again and the visa came through on Thursday night, the night before we (Tapu Javeri, assigned to photograph the interview and Fareshteh Aslam, best friend-moral support and Encyclopedia on all things SRK) were booked to fly out. In the next 24 hours Fareshteh’s dad fell ill making her travel plans dicey, a private Cessna plane crash landed on the Karachi Airport runway, shutting down the airport for a good 10 hours and the Emirates aircraft we were scheduled to fly encountered some technical fault. Our flight, originally scheduled to depart Karachi at 2pm PST left at 11pm on Friday night and we arrived in Dubai on Saturday morning, 3am, the day of the interview. It was quite an uphill task.
Shah Rukh signing our copy of Anupama Chopra’s biography for us.
I got my interview at precisely 8:30pm in Dubai, after observing Shah Rukh Khan on the press-set for over three hours. My slot lasted for around half an hour for the interview, photo session and general tête-à-tête in which I got a birthday wish autographed, Fareshteh gifted him a cook book from Pakistan, Tapu gave him a copy of Tapulicious (which he sat down and went through). And eventually, as all good things must come to an end, it was over.
– You can read the The Shah Rukh Khan Experience in Instep this Sunday…