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Fringes of fame aka star selfie ‘autograph’

A few months ago on my trip back from Kolkata, I was sitting in the lounge hunkered over my laptop furiously dashing off a few ideas and responding to emails… I heard the dulcet tones of a vaguely familiar voice however ignored, absorbed instead with processing the packed three days spent with my client and team.

As I boarded, our eyes met and she exclaimed “Hey! I know you!” Even I took a second to make the connect via mutual friends’ of my partner… Sweetly she commented “Such a different context! So sorry I didn’t recognise you earlier!”

Honestly, I looked quite different from when we last met and while we certainly socially connected several times, we don’t really know each other so well. Both of us can be forgiven for not immediately recognising.

But here is the kicker – there are a lot of people out there that think they know her.

As I walked out of the airport, there was a full bank of paparazzi. Egads?! Was that for her? Could that be possible??

And it struck me how we’ve always met within the closed ranks of an ‘inner circle’ of our mutual friends’ homes, in relaxed known environments where you can simply be yourself.

Flashing Fahad at Flash Point

Paparazzi at the Flash Point book launch

I’m lucky. My partner is known but primarily within certain circles and environments. He has a chameleon like quality… many roles he does are so completely contrasting that recognition doesn’t get in the way of every day life.

Not so for some folks we know. With a few, I’ve learned to pick certain restaurants or places to meet where there will be less of the “Sir! Can I just have a photo with you?” In most cases, socialising happens either in homes or closed events.

Because selfies with someone famous is the new ‘autograph’. And I’ve unfortunately witnessed the mobbing that can take place with demands for brushes with fame.

Circa 2004

Saif Ali Khan + Carissa Hickling, circa 2004

So do I fall prey to this malady? Generally no… at least not with folks I genuinely know.

However, don’t laugh, I will confess to one ‘star pose’ taken more than a decade ago when we both were dashing late for the Mumbai – Delhi flight, sharing the bus across the tarmac together…. Emboldened by the fact I knew folks that worked in New York and India on his recent (then) hit film (Kal Ho Naa Ho), asked for a pic together. My little annoying ‘fan’ moment was never to be revisited. I assumed.

Except a funny little thing happened a couple months back. We met again… He was chatting with my partner as they were in a film together and we spent a most enjoyable evening at the opening of the Prithvi Festival. This time, I took the photo and spared us both a repeat of a star-struck selfie!

Lilette, Denzil & Saif at the Prithvi Festival opening

Lilette, Denzil & Saif at the 2015 Prithvi Festival

Clearly this isn’t just an Indian phenomenon. When Justin Trudeau became Prime Minister of Canada, all over Facebook popped pics with the new PM to the extent that it seemed that practically everyone I know in Canada has ‘met’ him!

What do you think? Is the ‘star selfie’ the new ‘autograph’?

Related posts:


Personalising Bombay’s Paparazzi – Fahad Samar’s Flash Point

When you think ‘paparazzi‘, you think of mad shutter bugs hounding celebrities going about their everyday activities…

However Mumbai’s breed are rather more civilised. “Please sir… just one more sir! Thank you sir!”

Before I met my partner, I was completely oblivious of Mumbai’s paparazzi.

With him, I discovered there is often a warm symbiotic relationship between photographer and photographee. What isn’t captured on camera are the greetings by name, teasing exchanges and general camaraderie. (more…)

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