By Aamna Haider Isani
Fashion photographer, RJ in the Dark Room, academic and overall persona grata, Tapu Javeri also turned out to be quite an ‘attractive’ travel companion on our recent trip to Dubai. Here’s what he attracted…
“Oh my God, are you Brandon?” a young girl with an American accent gushed, as we waited for our boarding passes at the Emirates counter at the Karachi Airport. Tapu, Fareshteh (my friend and much-needed Encyclopedia on all things SRK) and I were travelling to Dubai as I had to interview Shah Rukh Khan, on a promotional trip for Fan, and Tapu was to do the needful visual coverage. We were going to meet the world’s biggest megastar but Tapu, it turned out (with his Anglicized appearance), was quite the star himself. The first fan we encountered was this girl who thought he was Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York fame. He had to disappoint her but delivered it with such a charming “I’m afraid not” that she didn’t seem too upset.
Several selfies later (we were stopped by at least two young boys), when we approached the Immigration Desk, a smartly dressed (female) Immigration Officer recognized him and easily started a very flirtatious conversation on when he would take the time out to photograph her. I must say Tapu was quite flabbergasted in the situation and so I helpfully chipped in, “Tapu why don’t you begin by taking a picture with your phone?” He did and she immediately offered her number and asked him to send it to her WhatsApp chat. It was quite an experience; we were whizzed through Immigration though we weren’t given the upgrade that we were secretly hoping for! Waiting in the lounge resulted in several more selfies.
We got to Dubai after an excruciating delay caused by crashing Cessnas and technically faulty Emirates aircrafts and by the time we got to our hotel we were absolutely knackered. However, the post TOIFA party was full-on and we managed (through our heavy eyelids) to spot Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Kanika Kapoor and Ronit Roy (who we did not recognize at first). It turned out that Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone and several other Bollywood stars were staying there. We of course knew this when we were booking!
“I saw you and thought to myself you must be a star too,” a scantily clad Indian girl breathlessly ran up to Tapu as we made our way to through the lobby. I have to say that Tapu is actually better looking than your average Bollywood actor and we contemplated – for a second – the kind of benefits we could enjoy if he pulled out a pair of dark glasses and pretended to be one. Sheer exhaustion got the better of us.
The next day was well spent on set and I have to say that the effortlessness with which Tapu moved from room to room, at equal ease with German, Lebanese, Egyptian and Arab TV channels, was mighty impressive. While ominous looking guards protected every set – barring us from even watching/listening – Tapu was allowed to photograph freely and one producer actually came up to me for permission to have Tapu photograph their shoot too!
No one else had the foresight to get a professional photographer on board; I’ll take credit for that! So he befriended the six-feet tall Egyptian and Lebanese achors who wore their skirts short, their heels high and their tattoos proudly. He networked with producers of different channels and at the end of the day he even managed to get Shah Rukh Khan smile for the Something Haute cover image.