For the Dubai resident Shruti Ambekar, one of the Shah Rukh Khan fans who won Radio Mirchi UAE’s My Name Is Fan contest, the prize of meeting Shah Rukh Khan is as good as winning an Oscar. Khan is in Dubai for a month-long shoot, creating hysteria among diehard fans as he is glimpsed in various locations – he was recently spotted romancing his co-star Deepika Padukone at The Dubai Mall’s ice-skating rink – while filming Happy New Year, a forthcoming romantic drama by the filmmaker and choreo- grapher Farah Khan.
Ambekar, 30, who can rattle off dialogues from Khan’s movies at the drop of a hat, says her biggest fear is that she will be tongue-tied when she meets him tonight at Atlantis The Palm.
“I am a romantic person and he is the baap [father] of romance. Words do not even begin to explain how I feel right now,” she says.
Radio Mirchi UAE, owned by Abu Dhabi Media (which also owns The National), ran the My Name Is Fan contest in collaboration with Western Union from mid-August until last week. Listeners had to call in or send messages during various radio programmes – Mirchi Mornings, Mid-day Mohabbat, Total Filmy and Bumper2Bumper – and prove to the RJs that they are diehard Khan fans. Another 25 individuals were selected based on codes they received while using Western Union’s services.
Ambekar, who always listens to Mirchi Mornings on her daily commute to work, was asked to recite movie dialogue on air and she chose one from Baazigar, the early 1990s film that set the stage for Khan’s meteoric rise to stardom.
“Aur haar kar jeetnay wale ko baazigar kehte hai [the one who goes from loser to winner is called a gambler],” she says in a fair imitation of Khan’s quivering voice.
“When I was in college, I used to skip class to catch his movies in the cinema. I also subscribed to film magazines, which were banned at home.”
Surbhi Sachdev, 20, another fan, watches all Shah Rukh Khan films on the first day of their release. The psychology student at Heriot-Watt University in Dubai says she is taking her mother to meet Khan tonight.
“I used to live in Toronto and he is big there,” says Sachdev, who is from New Delhi. “I also volunteered at the IIFA [International Indian Film Academy Awards] awards but did not have a chance to meet him. Now I have another chance. I’ve been going shopping everyday to find the perfect outfit to wear to dinner with him. I am so nervous, I’ll probably faint.”
Sachdev also narrates an unusual birthday she celebrated outside the actor’s house in the Mumbai suburb of Bandra. “My friends and family know how much I love him, so we went to his house, which is called Mannat, and cut a small cupcake outside,” she says, giggling.
Khan, who owns a house in Dubai and is often in the city, said at a press conference last week that the emirate provided the glamorous setting needed for shooting Happy New Year.
“It’s like when you’re choosing a city for the Olympics. For us ... there’s only one city that fits the bill and that’s Dubai,” Khan said.
The buzz around Happy New Year, expected to hit cinemas next year, follows Khan’s latest blockbuster Chennai Express, India’s highest grossing film of all time.
Geetanjali Kelath, 22, from the southern Indian state of Kerala, says she has watched his 1998 superhit Kuch Kuch Hota Hai “like a million times”.
When the competition to meet the star was announced, she decided to register several times to increase her chances of winning.
“I also entered the radio station’s online contest,” she says. “And then I got a call last week during the Mid-day Mohabbat show. It was wonderful.”
Her mother, who has followed the actor’s rise to fame from his television days – he was the top draw in a drama called Fauji – is equally excited about meeting him.
“My mum likes him, too,” says Kelath. “I guess we will be speechless when we see him. But maybe I’ll sing for him.”
Devanshi Narang, who is from Mumbai, won on the Total Filmy radio show after she correctly identified, on hearing a song clip, the name of the movie and the character Khan played in the 1998 Dil Se.
“I’ve often dreamt about meeting him,” says Narang, who has a three-year-old girl.
“This may sound silly, but in my dreams I meet him and introduce him to my daughter. And now it is coming true,” says Narang, who will be accompanied by her husband.
Her obsession with the actor goes back to when she was a teenager and used to save up to buy posters of the star. “I was in a hostel and would put them up in my room, and also at home. My dad used to scold me for it.”
Her family has never missed any chance of getting a glimpse of him whenever he is in the country.
“When he is performing live, I watch from a distance and pray: ‘Please call me on stage,’” says Narang. “I think the first thing I’ll ask him when I meet him is: ‘Can I touch you?’”
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