Zizzle was lucky enough to get invited to go and meet some Bollywood Royalty at the beautiful new Oberoi Hotel, King Khan himself, Madhuri Dixit and Yo! Yo! Honey Singh were in town for their Access All Areas Concert.
As I walked into the room I had butterflies in my stomach, I was so excited to meet Shah Rukh Khan(SRK) again and Madhuri Dixit, true legends. I remember being a kid and trying to dance like her with my cousins. I guess with such opportunities, my ideal scoop is finding out what inspires and motivates people like them. So many people told me how lucky I was to get such a chance and I am indeed very lucky but I also believe in creating such opportunities for myself. I think most successful people aren’t just lucky, they are driven and that’s what I wanted to talk about, I wanted that inspiration to share with my readers so that maybe one day we could have a fraction of their success. I wanted to talk about reality, challenging moments and things that matter rather than the usual gossip.
I took my seat in the front row, amazingly most other press took back seats which was definitely lucky for me! As we waited I sat chatting to the Editor sitting next to me who was randomly from my hometown in London, small world or what!? Then the countdown began…SRK, Madhuri Dixit and Yo! Yo! Honey Singh walked in and rather than the normal crazy cheer there was just silence and cameras clicking, It was only me who clapped…perhaps they were all star struck. It’s not surprising, Madhuri was a vision, so elegant and poised in her gorgeous outfit.
“Assalamu Alaikum!” exclaimed SRK, “We are back in Dubai to do what we love doing which is to entertain as many people as possible, there’s the music from Yo! Yo! here with his dancing and cool stuff and he’s become all UAE” He was referring to Yoyo sporting a mustard dish dash and headgear, he joked “His show is going to be in Punjabi Arabic”. He had so much charisma and although you could see that he is a natural born entertainer his ability to connect with people comes from his humility. I know he is incredibly humble because I once bumped into him in London having a day out with his family and he waited for me to go and buy a disposable camera so that I could have a picture with him. It resulted in me directing a photo-shoot where I made him pose with various gun games and motorbikes in London’s Trocadero and he totally went along with it and we hung out for a couple of hours, he even called my grandma who actually told him to stop being silly because she didn’t believe it was him!
He went on to introduce Madhuri as “the greatest actor of our time and perhaps all times…Some of the greatest moments of my lifetime and moments that changed my professional life were with Madhuri, I’m so glad she has worked and consented to work with me on so many films, it made me look much better than I am (laughs) and tomorrow night at the concert will be even more fun! We have done a few shows, we performed in Australia and we all stood backstage and watched Madhuri Dixit dance, she has an audience on the stage and also behind the stage so thank you for being here!” It was clear how much he respected and admired her and she too was so gracious of his compliments.
She addressed us, “Salaam Alaikum! It is wonderful to be here in Dubai, the last time I performed here was in 95 and it is my pleasure and honour that I will be in a show with Shah Rukh Khan the King! Thank you for all your kind words Shah Rukh, all I can say is we promise you it’s going to be a great show! It’s going to be fun and you will see a face-off between me and Shah Rukh Khan which I’m sure you will enjoy very much. It’s so nice to be here and congratulations on your 42nd National day and also on the Expo! 2020 will be a year to look forward to so all the best and I am really glad to be here!”
He’s clearly a big fan of Dubai and kept saying how excited he was to perform, “I feel very happy here, I feel relaxed, it’s a great city where you can do anything that you want. There’s a great mix of people, with great places to eat and lovely places to stay, you can get out of a room and decide what you want to do in 10 different directions. I think for Indians culturally it feels very close to us, I feel at home here, it’s less crowded and less traffic I really like coming here, I have my house here and my kids love it too! My genuine feeling and Madhuri who has also performed all over the world is that we never get a better audience then when we are in Dubai! The show looks and feels better because of everyone here, I am told to expect 20,000 people which I’m looking forward to, sorry to the 40,000 who didn’t get tickets (laughs jokingly) I am really excited about tomorrow!
It was question time and lucky for me everyone else was silent, I think they were definitely just star struck, or maybe they just did not want to go first, so I jumped in with “I want you to think back to the beginning of your careers, I can imagine an international concert with such a huge audience was just a dream once upon a time. When you faced challenges in your careers, what drove and motivated you to keep going? What helped you achieve your dreams?” Shahrukh and Madhuri passed the microphone back and forth until I interrupted them saying, “I had to go first too you know, to which they laughed and Shahrukh replied with ok “Ladies first”, She took the microphone from him,
“I think your own ambitions your own goals and the fans, they are so supportive and love you unconditionally which gives you strength to go on. Also your own goals, you want to do a certain thing a certain way, when I do anything I put my best foot forward, I want to be the best at whatever I do and all these things keep me going when the going gets tough, well the tough gets going they say (laughs) you have to be really tough!” She passed him the microphone, “We have all had these instances in our career, Yoyo is young and inshallah he will never have to face that and will carry on going from strength to strength but I have had moments, in fact I’ve experienced them with Madhuri in a film we have done together and even separately, where you put your best foot forward and it wasn’t good enough. You just have to bend down pick up the pieces and brush yourself off and try harder. On Monday you take a bath and say “I’m going to work harder and make the next one better!” On Friday you release a film and it becomes one of the best films ever made and you take a bath and say “I have to make a better one still” it’s as simple as that, you need tunnel vision and focus and you have to believe. I realised in the last five years, that if I cannot touch the lives of my final consumer whoever, however, wherever that may be, if I’m not able to change those people’s lives for a couple of hours, then whatever I do is completely redundant. So I dance, I sing and I jump, I have 16 year old kids who may think I am foolish, many people think that the things we do are not classy enough or intellectual enough or smart enough or good enough and so be it but you need to make sure that for those couple of hours like this show, we will try to change your life or your mood, hopefully to a better mood (laughs). We want to touch your life, and if we can’t do that then there’s no purpose for us working so hard. Once that is the purpose, nothing can deter you, not even failure and that is what keeps you going!”
I think his keywords were “You need tunnel vision and focus and to believe!” its a formula many successful people I’ve met have, and one we should all adopt. Yo! Yo! began, “Hopefully this is just the beginning, I am so young and in such a short space of time I got here and I’m so honoured to have the support of Shahrukh which I know he never had. After Shahrukh took me to Australia I always wanted to be next to him to learn, I am still learning and I am really lucky to have the support of these legends. SRK playfully takes the mic from him while smiling, “Yoyo has simple logic, if he fails he beats up people around him (all three start laughing). There are times when, I don’t know if Madhuri remembers this or not , but there were films that were not done well and as much as people love you and praise you, there are people to bring you down too and its hurtful. Actors try to ignore it by smiling and wearing a pleasant face but..it is hurtful to hear what you tried didn’t work out, it’s the kind of field where things can go wrong. Madhuri got the best actor award for that year, and she stood on that podium and simply said “I stand vindicated for all the hard work that I do” I was in the audience and I clapped the loudest, I was so moved and touched and I became braver that day to see Madhuri Dixit say that. She can go wrong and things can go wrong for her but when she comes back, she comes back with a force that cannot be denied, you learn things from people you work with, I don’t know if she even remembers that I was there but I was all there!
The touching thing about speaking to SRK is that he is so real, he did explain that he is shy and feels nervous even now and we joked about how he must be a good actor then because you would never know. He explained, “People misread acting, they say actors wear masks but it’s actually completely the opposite, I call it the nudification of the soul. If you sat down with Madhuri, or YoYo or anyone in the industry who you look up to for their confidence including myself, we are extremely shy people. It’s very difficult for us to even open up at a party, not because we are stars but I used to hide under a bed in my house if there were more than five people there. It’s one of the most difficult things to do live or otherwise, even when we shoot there are around one hundred people. We nudify our souls and say do you know what, you can appreciate me, unappreciate me, like me, dislike me but this is who I am, it’s very difficult. People look up to us and think we are a certain way and life is good, and Mashallah it is but I remember doing a film with Madhuri called Anjaam, it was the first or second time in the history of Indian cinema that she recorded the whole song in one shot, the song Barson Ke Baad was played and Madhuri danced. She had to dance for 3-5 minutes, focus, stay on her marks, consider lighting and all I had to do was sit in my wheelchair and be paralyzed and I was so scared that I would move and spoil her shot (they laugh together). I remember when she finished the song she sat down and I wanted to go and hug her and say congratulations, it was one of the finest shots I have ever seen in Indian cinema for as long as I have been working and she was so overwhelmed and she was crying and wanted to be on her own because she at that point had just exposed every part of the metal that she was made of to the world and that is difficult. The reality of acting is very raw, from the stupidity of dancing around trees, people laugh at that. I’m 48 and dancing around trees, ask your dad would he do that? (we burst out laughing while I imagine my dad dancing around a tree)
You have to just say to yourself, this is a job about giving, it’s the job of a jester or monkey where you just go out and say if it makes you happy I’ll do it and I mean that with respect, whether we are singing or dancing or acting it’s a difficult job and it’s all about giving yourself.”
The next day we were front row at the concert and it was amazing, it was actually like being in a Bollywood film. The Access All Areas concept behind the concert was that the cameras also go backstage where you watch the actors in their dressing rooms with their endless racks of costume changes rehearsing and doing their pre-performance rituals. There were so many backing dancers and fireworks and extravagant costumes, they certainly fulfilled their purpose and changed our mood, here are some snaps for you to enjoy!