In this day and age of Global connectivity, Bollywood stars seem to have developed the strangest cell phone etiquette. They want to be in touch with the world, but at the same time they prefer to remain aloof. This correspondent takes a look at this strange phenomenon.
Gone are the days when the yesteryear stars used only a landlines, which was always manned personally by them, when at home. So much so that even their secretaries or houseboys hardly dared to meddle with their telephonic chores unless their Sahabs or Madams were busy shooting outdoors. And those days the outdoor locales extended only as far as Kashmir, Shimla or Darjeeling.
Thankfully the technological revolution has made it possible to track the stars even if they are shooting in a remote corner of the world. Yet, they never felt as insecure as they do now. This has made the task of the film scribes very difficult. The first thing they have to do to break the communication barrier is to get the latest cell numbers of the stars, which keeps on changing..
Time to unravel the starry cellular secrets. Beginning with Jackie Shroff aka Jaggu Dada. He is the only star who has not changed his number after going mobile. Also, he makes it a point to answer all his calls with the same standard opening line, 'Haan bol biddu, kaise yaad kiya?" He could be at the other end of the globe, yet he patiently answers all his callers and assures that he would do the needful only on returning back home.
One actress with an unusual phone phobia is Bipasha Basu . When yours truly, after several attempts, finally managed to track her on phone, she avoided prolonging the conversation saying: “You have caught me on a wrong day as I have been hospitalized for a serious ailment. I generally don"t take calls, but if it"s necessary just send me a SMS. I will definitely get back to you." Definitely, Ms Bips!
The story repeats for her hunky better half John Abraham. Every time I managed to get him on the mobile, he would give a similar excuse no matter what the time or the date. “You have caught me on a wrong day as I am in a hospital attending to a friend who has been hospitalized for a serious ailment. Besides I have made a conscious decision of not giving any interviews till my next release comes up." Now, now guys you can put two and two together and draw your own conclusions. Okay!
Then there are two other stars, who never take their calls directly Sunjay Dutt and Suniel Shetty unless they know a scribe on a one to one level. But for first timers and strangers, they see to it that the caller"s message is not only delivered to them, but action is promptly taken. Sunjay Dutt"s Man Friday not only receives the call, but also fixes up a proper appointment for you and rests only when he plonks you right in front of the Deadly Dutt. And the same holds true in case of Anna Suniel Shetty. Of course with his own Man Friday gracefully coordinating the whole affair.
Queen Bee Rani Mukherjee and the ravishing Raveena Tandon too never answer their calls directly. The former makes her mother and the latter makes her secretary to do the needful. On the other hand the gorgeous Bollywoodian diva Rekha"s Man oops Woman Friday Farzana does gets back to you only when you send her, first a detailed SMS and then your detailed requirements or rather the core of your story and that too funnily enough both on her pager! Oh! Both of them still seem to be living in Stone Age!
While former Miss. Universe Sushmita Sen"s houseboy really gets on your nerves as he always cradles the cell phone and delivers a cliched round the clock reply.
“Memsaab so rahi hain ji."
Next, when I had tried to contact Faffy dear oops Aftab Shivdasani, he was holidaying alone, or so he wanted me or every caller to believe, in South Africa. So naturally his mobile had a recorded message.
“Call my mom on….." I did and then thankfully his mother Joyce Shivdasani not only attended my call, but also delivered my message on the South African hotel number of the 'Mast" and 'Masti" bhara actor. Who promptly called me back from his overseas sojourn and instantly fixed up the interview session for the day he would land up on the home terrain. So once he reached Mumbai he called me up on my cell and asked me too meet him up at the airport. The interview was done in his car on his way back home.
But then trust Akki aka Akshay Kumar for his constant cellular pranks. The moment I dialed his number 'His Masters Voice" boomed in my ears, “ Hi! I"m Akshay Kumar and you know what to do?" Yes. I knew. I left a message for him in his voice mailbox and forgot about it. The next thing I knew was that his Woman Friday Ms Pooja started hounding me on my cell phone that too at unearthly hours for 'fixing" up an interview almost akin to a match-fixing syndrome. But alas! The interview never happened until I was on the verge of tearing my hairs apart. As in the meanwhile the action hero had safely left for one of his foreign shoots. And finally before I could heave a sigh of relief, Akki Baba gave me a midnight jolt by making an overseas apologetic call with the option, “Can we do a telephonic interview now?" Since I was already bugged by his pranks, I politely declined his generous 'overseas" offer then. The reward: An excellent vibing with him since then with no more mobile pranks repetition.
Last but not the least is the father and son duo of Suresh and Vivek Oberoi in tandem with their joint Woman Friday. So just as an absentee student lands up in school with a medical certificate first she and then Papa Oberoi always return my calls with an excusable cellular medical report on behalf of their always-recuperating Jr. Oberoi"s sickly state of affairs. Until I had finally caught up with the healthy looking Vivek at a Mumbai premiere. Oberoi Baba clarified, “Don"t you trust them? You see I have now been nicknamed a china doll, by one and all, as I keep having this great humpty dumpty fall." Needless to say I was dumbfounded.
So the ultimate analysis of the Bollywoodian stars Cell phone phobia is that after all these and more 'accidental" and typically funny, filmy cellular encounters.