The words “Rendezvous” and “Meeting” are in my honest opinion thrown around too much. So to be disruptive, let’s anglicize and use the word “Mulaqat.” Most of my batch mates have some idea about the story that is about to follow. This will be new for my juniors. Nevertheless, here’s a complete account of my Flashback story ………
Rewinding back to November 2014…….it was the month before all SCMHRDians fully got into the EAT.SLEEP.NEEV.REPEAT mode. As a matter of fact, a number of small, fun events were organized to promote the flagship event “Augustus – The Best Student Manager” within campus. I had won Augustus’ online short story contest earlier, with the prize being a non-fiction book which I’m yet to complete even now (Only 10 pages done!).
Augustus’ next contest was a 20-minute, 20-question online cricket quiz on November 17, 2014. And at the end of it, what do you know?! The winner’s prize was getting..……wait for it…..*taking deep breath*……..a day to play cricket with ‘Singham’ Ajay Devgn himself! And what was even more unbelievable?! I was declared the winner, or rather the “Lucky One.” I simply couldn’t believe my luck. I was finally going to meet a BOLLYWOOD STAR face-to-face. The very STAR whose movies include: Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Khakhee, Company, Deewangee, Major Saab, Singham, Ishq, the Golmaal series and so many more I’ve seen (with subtitles) since my childhood. Forget disbelief, my mind floated away into one bubble of a daydream. One that was as ideal as it could get:
<DREAM> I would meet Ajay on a beautiful lawn behind a bungalow, from which he would step out strolling toward me with his trademark “shy smile” as I would like to call it —— Devgn is hardly one for public appearances as many people know.
He would put his arm around me and then say, “Chalo Suraj, cricket khelen?”
I would bowl left-arm spin to him and get him out. We’d both share a hearty laugh. </DREAM>
I just couldn’t wait to meet him. The next day, I was asked by NEEV to get in touch with one of the journalists named Harshita from Lokmat News (A NEEV-Augustus Sponsor organizing this Ajay Devgn event) who would brief me on the travel plans to-and-fro Kolhapur (She had booked my bus ticket) and on the itinerary for November 19, 2014, which was the day I’d get to see Devgn. So I spoke to her right away and she explained to me everything that I needed to know. The best part was all my travel expenses was to be reimbursed by Lokmat News (Came to nearly Rs. 2,000!). More importantly, my own expectations had crashed upon hearing the following:
- It would NOT be about Cricket, but it would be Gilli Danda (a local variant of cricket involving two sticks and a ball) that Ajay Devgn was to demonstrate as part of promotions for his home production Marathi film “Vitti Dandoo.” So then, why did Team Augustus mention that I would get to play cricket with him?? Seriously misleading!
- The time I would get to spend with him would be as good as momentary, let alone having any conversation for that matter. After all, could I really capture this Star? I could only wish upon it quite literally. 😛
I had to collect my bus ticket from the Lokmat office near F.C. Road in the evening —– a long travel and an equally long story which I don’t wish to get into. Anyway, I had to leave that night itself to catch my bus at 11 in the night (which came an hour later actually!) at a Bus Stop almost 20 kilometers away from SCMHRD! I certainly did not want to go in a cab there knowing how much I had to shell out! Well, I was saved in the last minute by a certain buddy. I owe it immensely to Jay Pathare for taking me all the way on his bike, that too without any demands or fuss. Thanks again Jay if you’re reading this! You certainly deserved a mention!
I reached Kolhapur at 4 AM and headed straight to the Lokmat Guest House by auto rikshaw. I could then sleep in peace in a pretty neat room, knowing that I had made it alive and ‘theft-free’ to a new, unfamiliar place in the dead of night!!
The following morning around 9 AM, 3 other students from across Maharashtra had come to the Guest House to meet Devgn like me. So I was not the only one after all. Another expectation had gone to the dustbin! Nevertheless I had some companions, calling us the “Lucky Ones.” LOL!
It was 12 PM at Sanjay Ghodawat Group of Institutes, where over 1,000 students, every single faculty member and even the gardeners had gathered at the Academic Block Hall to see the Star himself. I was sporting my SCMHRD jacket with the belief that I was representing my college in true spirit. Ajay Devgn was expected anytime around then…..apparently NOT! And I was hungry! None of us “Lucky Ones” got breakfast earlier!
FINALLY At 1:30 PM, a helicopter had landed. My hunger had subsided! The crowd roared even louder in anticipation! The Singham theme track was booming across the hall! We the “Lucky Ones”, being seated in the front-most row, were really chilled out amidst the frenzy of desperate people trying to catch even the slightest, proximal glimpse of Ajay, much to the dismay of the organizers who had to urge people to give the Star his space for him to make his way to the stage along with a minister and bodyguards. Decibel levels had burst through the roof! He had entered the venue in Badshah style! He was sporting a cool hairdo and beard, along with a black “Vitti Dandoo” (emblazoned in Devanagiri) collared T-shirt and blue jeans! Let me not forget to mention the red tilak on his forehead, which gave him a Baba look; and his filmy navy blue aviators, which he soon tucked on his shirt’s button line! I was just dumbstruck beyond any feeling! All of his movies I had seen flashed in my mind instantly like a fast-forwarded PPT slideshow! Luckily, my presence of mind allowed me to snap his pictures right from the time he passed me to his time spent on the stage, including a silly selfie from my seat capturing him during his speech on the podium. 😛
Soon after the program’s inauguration and the speeches of the minister and Ajay, it was time for us “Lucky Ones” to go up on stage and get our Ajay-autographed, black “Vitti Dandoo” T-shirts and the movie soundtrack album from him. To shake hands with ‘Singham’; to ask him “Aap kaise ho sir?”; to receive his shy smile with minimal eye-contact from him (he is truly NOT a public person!); then to take a spontaneous group selfie with him (he was almost caught unaware!) ——– all in all, these remain the most cherished moments for me. Of course, to stand next to this Star surely made me conscious of my lack of muscular build. However, it was of some solace to discover that I was ‘marginally’ taller than him. 😛
Later on, we the “Lucky Ones” made a mad hurry to the Institute sports ground in close pursuit of Ajay, who was leading the way with a horde of VIPS from the Group of Institutes, security people, bodyguards and a few media persons. Again, there was a nearly uncontrollable frenzy at different security checkpoints, where it was ensured only the “Lucky Ones” could accompany the Star to the ground. Ajay demonstrated a single shot of the Gilli Danda game and left the ground with the same set of people before I could even catch my breath. Oh well, that was the last I saw of him in person. I couldn’t have been more content given my tailored expectations —– thanks to Harshita of Lokmat News. To this day, I am thankful to Lokmat News, NEEV and Augustus for this rarest of rare opportunities.
Soon after, my hunger pangs struck back. At long last, the “Lucky Ones” got an awesome buffet lunch at a Lokmat newspaper factory after which we went for exploring a bit of Kolhapur and enjoying its street food. Post all of that, it was time for me to bid adieu to these day-old friends and to a city that felt a lot like my hometown Trivandrum in appearance. Too bad I have been unable to try some authentic Kolhapuri Chicken Biriyani. Well, perhaps next time!
Upon returning, everybody in college was curious and eager to know what it was like to be with the “Singham” himself and moreover what all we had spoken about —— of course, nothing! Not even the popular “Aata majhi satakli!” More often than not, I had to share the long story short. Now, I’ve finally gotten to tell the short story long……
Here’s the FB link below to see the selfie taken. Hope it works! Else, go to my FB cover photos.