x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Desi girl: Those unsmiling Bollywood boys need to lighten up

The Middle East Film & Comic Con was a relief from Bollywood - I got my fill of celebrities who didn't act like God's gift to mankind.

Despite my love for all things Bollywood, there is one thing I have never been able to understand: for an industry with a penchant for ridiculous showmanship (catching bullets with one’s teeth or riding two horses at once, for example) the actors take themselves far too seriously in real life.

I’ve been to enough Bollywood film promotional tours and conferences to be on first-name terms with their bodyguards, all with biceps the size of tree trunks. It’s quite amusing to find them creating a no-go zone around some twinkie who is just one film old but acts as though she is the hottest property out there.

But wait until you find yourself near an established Bollywood star. We’re talking about sunglasses that don’t come off indoors and requests for green tea with honey (no sugar!) and green (not red!) apples, peeled and sliced into quarters.

That’s why the Middle East Film & Comic Con (MEFCC) last weekend was such a relief. I got my fill of celebrities who didn’t act like God’s gift to mankind.

The star I was most looking forward to meeting was Sean Astin, who played the hobbit Samwise Gamgee in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. He is taller in real life – much taller. I was also keen to meet Ioan Gruffudd, known to most as Dr Reed Richards from the film Fantastic Four. Both proved to be total gentlemen with no airs whatsoever.

And then there was the gorgeous Alan Tudyk (from the TV series Firefly and the movies Serenity, Death at a Funeral and Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story), who winked at me when I bumped into him. It reminded me of last year’s MEFCC when I got winked at by John Rhys-Davies – Gimly from The Lord of the Rings.

Can you imagine a Kapoor or a Khan winking at someone in good spirit? Oh no, those guys are too cool for school. Well, they all ought to take a leaf out of Manu Bennett’s book. He is the last celebrity I will talk about today and all anyone is talking about after the MEFCC.

I ran into him on his way to an autograph-signing session. Bennett of Spartacus fame did a double take when he saw me. An appreciative head-to-toe-and-back-again scan was followed by a “Nice costume!” in his Kiwi accent.

OK, I admit it wasn’t I who caught his eye, rather my Cosplay attire as Lady Thor. Could I imagine John Abraham in his place? Hardly.

There was a little after-party at the venue for the entire MEFCC crew and special guests. Just as we all got ready to let our hair down, rain started pouring down and the sky lit up with giant bolts of silver. It was almost as if a higher power had been waiting for the crowds to go home before he opened up the skies. I had spent the day dressed as the Norse God of Thunder, so a lot of eyes looked accusingly at me as everyone hustled to find cover.

That’s when Bennett seized the day. He loped out into the rain, whipped off his wet T-shirt and treated us all to a Kiwi haka dance. There were cheers and claps, whoops and whistles, and everyone fell in love with this ridiculously good-looking and almost equally good-natured man.

One can only hope that the Bollywood boys take note.

The writer is an honest-to-goodness desi living in Dubai

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