I met Anupam Kher at the just concluded Emirates Literary Festival. What a man! Sitting amid the glamorous and eloquent Shobha De and a hi-profile moderator – the Indian Consul-General Sanjay Verma – he not only held his own, but did it with elan.
Those of you who know him, may wonder why I was surprised? Possibly, I expected a Bollywood star… though I always believed he is an Actor. This is after considering his body of work that includes a few mindless craps that passed off as comedies, too. And which, he says, he will continue doing.
He was there as the author of ‘The Best Thing About You Is You’. Infact, he was the best thing that happened to that panel discussion.
Consider this: At one point, when he failed to get the right words to express himself in English, he checked with his co-panelist Ms De. He couldn’t have given a damn for his image for seeking help in public. He was just being himself, as he professes.
Similarly, he was all hands and feet, driving his points home, as Ms De was perched with poise, replying measuredly with that occasional wave of her manicured fingers and Mr Verma sitting imposingly with one of his feet resting over his other knee, throwing one-liners at regular intervals.
When Anupam Kher recalled how he discovered media clippings about himself in his father’s old trunk, I heard the box creak.
The entertainer in him couldn’t be shoved under the microphone!
When he described how he enjoyed paratha and egg, he just stopped short of licking his fingers. Interestingly, the context in which he said the paratha episode needs a mention. Apparently, he finds some people on Business Class on flights ‘comical’. “They will sit beside me, holding an Economic Times copy, ordering black tea without sugar and ignoring me for the whole duration of the flight only to give themselves away with a daft query at the end ‘So you are going to Delhi’?”
So, he loves being recognised and is not ashamed to say so!
And yes, I couldn’t but notice his radiance. A self-confessed positive person, I’m convinced he practices what he says, for only a free spirit can command such respect and adulation with serenity in public.
Exchanging a word with anyone who wanted to speak to him and posing patiently for pictures, he obliged all his fans at the venue. When he accepted my book, he asked , “Where’s my name?” Hesitatingly I addressed the book to him and signed as fear gnawed my insides shouting at my audacity to surpass my station. But even as his staff urged him to leave and the crowd was getting more demanding, he stood still and read what I scribbled, in the worst handwriting I’ve ever written, teaching me a lesson. Believe in what you do!
Disclaimer: [For those of you who doubt the reason for my opinion thus]: I would have written this piece as is sans the last interaction. I owed myself one from the day I watched his autobiographical play ‘Kuch Bhi Ho Sakta Hai’.