This weekend I went to attend one of these fancy book-launch events in JW Marriott. (pregnant pause while you soak in my intellectualism). The occasion was the unveiling of Kapil Sibal’s second book of poems, “My World Within”. The event was being sponsored by the noted producer, Firoz Nadiadwala, so more than the Union Minister or his book, the main attraction was the high profile Bollywood stars who were expected to grace the occasion.
Now the million dollar question is what was I doing there? I am not into poetry or Bollywood stars, neither do I like Page 3 events. Of course, the obvious answer is the free food and the alcohol. And like a typical wannabe, I was there at 7:25 p.m. (hey the invitation said 7:30), so that I can “get the best seats”, and guess what, I was one of the first ones there, with other loserly wannabes. There was no sign of Kapil Sibal or even worse, any alcohol and starters (like I was promised).
After twiddling my thumb for an hour, I could finally see people trickling in: fashionably dressed, hair in place, towering heels and fancy clutches. To think in my rush to be punctual, I had even forgotten to wash my hair or accessorize and of course, since I was taking public transport, I had to wear sensible shoes. But then I saw Javed Akhtar, Om Puri, Kedar Khan, Anupam Kher, Rishi Kapoor among a host of other Bollywood personalities, so I heaved a sigh of relief, knowing that nobody was going to pay any attention to ME.
Finally, Mr. Sibal himself walked in, but strangely, even at 9 p.m. there was no sign of any ‘book launch’ or any alcohol. By now, I had given up, and was just waiting for the main course, though I could not fathom the reason behind the delay. I even heard Mr. Sibal walk to Nadiadwala (note my proximity to the main stage, given the ‘best seats’) and tell him, “We should get started now”. However, a few minutes later, I figured out that we were waiting for a certain ‘Aamir’ to show up. Yes, it was the same Aamir Khan that I adored. I almost burst into laughter when I heard that. It only happens in Mumbai that a Bollywood actor can keep a minister (who was incidentally the chief guest for whom the event was organized) waiting to launch his own book!
I also saw an extremely dolled-up pretty woman, with layers of make-up walk in with some hippy guy with a ponytail. While all eyes turned to her, nobody knew who she was, including Mr. Nadiadwala. We figured out she was some struggling actress trying to make her way through Bollywood, and given she was at a BOOK LAUNCH, she must be really struggling! Anyway, Aamir (since I ALMOST met him, we are henceforth on first-name basis) was apparently caught up in traffic (didn’t he go to college? That’s the lamest excuse in Mumbai, for which you would NEVER be given attendance), so we had to start without him.
As for the book launch, it was almost a non-event. He recited parts of the book, and while he was a good orator, as a writer, I found him to be strictly average: the same clichés, the same themes and the same platitudes that all mediocre poetry is made of.
10 p.m. Still no sign of the food. Disappointed and almost suffocated in the claustrophobia of fake smiles, sycophancy and the putrid smell of money and power, I escaped (‘best seats’ notwithstanding), heaved a sigh of relief as I trudged my way out of the Marriott, got into an auto and stuffed myself at the roadside Lucky Biryani.
My first and hopefully my last Page 3 party: strangely, the only thought I left with was that of the dolled-up struggling actress.
I had escaped, but she was still there, twirling her fake curls, and adding yet another coat of the hideous red lipstick.