Shah Rukh Khan’s Raees is the first hit of 2017 and, as is tradition in Bollywood, the cast and crew celebrated with a party at a five star hotel in Juhu, Mumbai.
The party was set to begin at 8.30 pm and I walked in at 9.20 pm to find big hoardings of the film everywhere along with a Twitter mirror (common at many events these days).
By 10.20 pm, Shah Rukh, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Ritesh Sidhwani, Rahul Dholakia and Sunny Leone made their entrance on a jeep to cheers, whistles and confetti. Songs from Raees played on loud speakers and the gang wore black T-shirts emblazoned with dialogues from the film. Sunny was the lone exception donning a stunning gold dress instead.
The team then held court with the press for some time. SRK was in his element, witty and charming, zinging the media’s obsession with box-office figures. When the emcee quizzed Nawaz on his role and his chemistry with SRK, the actor revealed that while shooting film’s climax, he felt reluctant to cause any harm to Raees because he was enjoying watching him so much. To which Shah Rukh mischievously said, “Aisa mooh dekh ke toh lag nahi raha tha!”
Soon after, the stars were escorted into a VIP lounge. All the other guests outside swung into action, jockeying for a face-to-face with SRK. The PR guys, as accommodating as they were, couldn’t help everyone. The only way of getting past the bouncers was to know someone who was already inside. Extreme vetting was the mantra, to quote a certain leader of the free world.
Understandably, I didn’t make the shortlist and retreated to a corner of the regular lounge, where I awkwardly wedged myself between two senior media persons. While one of them openly complained about the selective preference given to a few journalists, I dug into some of the sumptuous spread which included two variations of paneer, chicken curry, mutton and a live pulao station.
One female guest caused a minor brouhaha when she mistook the kheema for a vegetarian dish. I was wrestling with nervous energy of my own - unsuccessfully stabbing away at my kulfi, even as I wondered if would manage to catch a glimpse of SRK. So far, the night was not following the script I had in my head.
Taking a cue from others at the party, I tried my hand at the Twitter mirror. It’s a simple idea: tap the surface to click a photo, tag yourself and send out a tweet using the hashtag for the event.
Shah Rukh was spotted fiddling with the mirror too accompanied by the director of his upcoming project Anand L Rai.
After dinner, I contemplated making another attempt at entering the VIP Lounge. I could channel my inner emotional drama queen, pull at the bodyguards’ heart strings but better sense prevailed. Just when I thought the evening was a wrap, I was swept into the room by a group of people.
I took stock of the room. Sunny Leone and her husband Daniel Weber were there, surrounded by admirers discussing her song “Laila” from the film. Nawaz was in another corner, smiling sweetly at everyone who came up to praise his performance.
Shah Rukh was, as you would expect, in good spirits. He casually chatted with a group of female journalists who were effusive about his performance in the film. He hugged one of them and then turned his attention to me. We exchanged pleasantries and, in a show of warmth, SRK even kissed my head. Then he was gone, leaving me to celebrate my own little success at the success party of his latest film.