Experiencing the Hrithik Quake

Published On: 2012-05-06

Author: Komal Nahata

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Experiencing: The Hrithik Quake!


A first person account by Komal Nahata

What happened at Bombay‘s Santacruz airport was just a curtain-raiser to what was to happen at Ahmedabad‘s Vallabhbhai Patel airport an hour later. The ground hostesses of Jet Airways were fighting over who would escort Hrithik Roshan to the security check. The security guys pretended to be more restrained than their excitement could permit them - they were, perhaps, thinking of the stories they would narrate at home to their kids, of Hrithik, the heartthrob of generation today. The co-passengers couldn‘t believe their eyes and luck. Was it Hrithik they were seeing in their midst? Was it the Hrithik? 

Autograph seekers rushed to the new icon with whatever pieces of paper they could lay their hands on, for the signature that could be worth more than Rs. 2 crore in the film industry. After all, Hrithik Roshan‘s debut film, Kaho Naa...Pyaar Hai, had hit pay dirt. In fact, it was for the 100 days‘ celebration of the film that Hrithik and dad Rakesh Roshan, the producer and director of the biggest hit of the year so far, were flying to Ahmedabad on 14th May. The celebrations were scheduled in the evening at one of India‘s best cinemas - the City Pulse multiplex in Gandhinagar.

On the flight, star-struck stewards and high-on-Hrithik hostesses went through the routine of serving refreshments to the passengers with alarming speed. For, they had a more important job on hand - to take Hrithik‘s autograph for themselves, family members, friends, distant relatives, may be, even foes! To the air staff‘s good fortune, physique-conscious Hrithik chose not to eat or drink anything on flight and utilised all of the 50 minutes to sign autographs and chat with them.

Thousands of eager spectators had dotted the airport boundary to have a look at the hero long before the flight touched base. Sensing the mob excitement, Ashok Purohit, the owner of City Pulse, had very thoughtfully arranged for a car to pick up the Roshans from the tarmac itself. The cool drive to the hotel close to the airport was a welcome change after the initial 15 minutes of the flight when the cooling system had failed. Hrithik used the menu card to fan himself even as fans of all age groups in the aeroplane fanned his ego.

The scene in the hotel lobby was equally crazy. Young girls and boys with their mothers and fathers in tow let out shrieks of joy as Hrithink descended from the car. One little boy could be heard chanting, ” Lithik(sic)..... O mummy..... O mummy.....,” clutching his sister‘s hand tight lest he fainted. The one-film hero waved out to the crowds, shook hands with some of them and took the elevator to his spacious suite on the second floor of the hotel. 

Papa Roshan complained playfully, ”First, at least some people used to ask me for my autograph. Now, once they get Hrithik‘s autograph, they don‘t even bother about mine.” Of course, the well-meaning pride in papa‘s voice is there for all to see. Then Roshan Sr. goes on to relate an incident that had taken place at the friendly cricket match between Sachin Tendulkar XI and Hrithik XI the previous day in Bombay. A little boy, barely four years old, unable to reach Hrithik Roshan for an autograph, had pushed his autograph book into Rakesh Roshan‘s hand and pleaded, ”Uncle, please sign Hrithik Roshan!”

Before the star and star-maker zip off to City Pulse to make an appearance in all the three cinemas in the multiplex, Ashok Purohit feeds them with figures over tea and biscuits. Hrithik orders for sandwiches as Purohit announces that KN...PH has already grossed Rs. 6.5 million in 17 weeks at City Pulse alone. ”My desire is to touch the Rs. 10 million mark on the silver jubilee of the film,” says Purohit to the beaming Roshans. Incidentally, this is the highest collection a single film has grossed in the year-long history of City Pulse which opened in May ‘99. It may not be possible to add another Rs. 3.5 million in 8 weeks to reach the target set by Purohit, but it would still remain the highest grossing film so far at the multiplex.

Hrithik informs about his portal which father-in-law-to-be, Sanjay Khan, plans to launch. ”It will take some time to be launched, may be four or five months because I‘ve got to sit and understand the whole thing,” he explains. But will the busier-than-the-proverbial-bee actor find time for all this even as every producer and director worth his name in the industry approaches the Roshans with a script that‘s ”written only for Hrithik”? The teenage sensation answers that indirectly when he reveals later in reply to a question whether girlfriend Suzanne gets disturbed by the unprecedented female adulation that‘s come his way, ”She is not disturbed by the female fan-following but she definitely gets disturbed because I don‘t get any time for her. She comes to meet me at the gym at night when I am working out. That‘s the only time we get to see each other.” He pauses for a while and then rues, ”What a place to meet no, the gym?” When will the wedding bells chime to the breaking of millions of hearts? Hrithik is more honest when confronted with this question on a one-to-one basis than when the same question is thrown at him at a press meet in Ahmedabad, with dad seated next to him. Perhaps, his embarrassment because of his father‘s presence by his side makes him mumble at the press conference, ”Married, I will definitely get, but not now.” The same question gets a more specific reply when dad is not within hearing distance. ”Marriage will be some time next year,” blushes very-much-in-love Hrithik.

Back to Kaho Naa...Pyaar Hai and the crowds of the capital city of Gujarat. There‘s heavy security at City Pulse pulsating to the beat of Hrithik mania. It‘s 9.30 p.m. but the crowds, mostly comprising youngsters, refuse to take their seats in the three halls, all screening KN...PH. Today, they‘ve come to see Hrithik, not the film. They want to see him in flesh and blood, they want to touch him, they want to see how much like them he is, they want to see how he walks and talks in real life. They want to get a darshan of their new God! The City Pulse management, in a bid to bring about a semblance of discipline, announces that Hrithik will not make an appearance unless the audiences take their seats. Shouts of ”oh no!” rent the air but the well-behaved crowds take the hint - and their seats too. The film show begins. There‘s restlessness in all the three halls. Outside, in the foyer and the huge compound leading to it, there‘s an air of festivity. Even the live band that plays in the compound every weekend evening is more charged that particular evening.

And then....and then.......the unbelievable happens. Hrithik and Rakesh Roshan come out of the car and people spring up as if from nowhere. Word has spread that the darling of the nation is here and ladies rush out of the auditorium, not bothered about where their children are. Fathers know, their children don‘t have the time to wait, they‘ve reached ahead of them, maybe, they‘ve been lucky enough to even touch Hrithik! Heavy security and police bandobust notwithstanding, it is well nigh impossible to control the crowd that‘s surging ahead, shrieking, yelling, shouting, waving, smiling, screaming, pulling, pushing, jostling, falling on the ground, tugging. Some enthusiastic girls even venture out to shout, ”Hrithik, we love you.” Hrithik, wearing a body-hugging white T-shirt, brown jeans and a 1000-watt smile, blushes a deep red. He waves out to the crazy crowds and tries hard to make his way through the crowds and into the first cinema. 

He is mobbed again inside the auditorium and it takes a while for him to reach the dais. Rakesh Roshan makes a small but effective speech, lauding City Pulse and owner Ashok Purohit. He thanks the audience and the public for making KN...PH a super-hit. He adds, ”Anything done honestly cannot go wrong. We‘ve made Kaho Naa...Pyaar Hai with the utmost honesty and the results are for all to see.” Hrithik takes the mic and even before he can begin to talk, the crowd goes into a frenzy. He smiles, then laughs, blushing all the time. As he had remaked on the flight a little while earlier, ”I can never get used to this mass adulation. I can‘t handle five people at a time, five thousand are too many.” Papa Roshan had added, ”Yes, Hrithik continues to be shy. Even after this success, he finds it difficult to open up before people.”

”Hrithik, dance, Hrithik, dance,” the crowds sing in unison. The dancing sensation looks questioningly at them and the projectionist has already played the super-hit Ek pal ka jeena song on the loud-speaker. The crowds have taken to their feet and are already swinging while shouting. Hrithik gets into the mood to oblige - and also to dance - and does the by-now famous dancing step with one palm pointing upwards and the other downwards, his knees bent and grace oozing out of his elastic body. Deafening screams, thunderous applause and before the crowds can rush to the dias, Hrithik is whisked out of the auditorium amidst tight security and taken to the second cinema. The scene is no different there. The same shrieks, the same public demand, the same dance and the same blush. Ditto in the third cinema.

Back in the hotel, it‘s dinner time. But the strict disciplinarian that Hrithik is, he will not have dinner before he has worked out. His secretary whispers into Rakesh Roshan‘s ears, ”He will join us later. He is presently working out in his hotel room.” Only thing, Hrithik‘s Suzanne is not there to chat with him in the hotel suite-turned-gymnasium. Cellphone, anyone?!?