x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

'We are eternally silly over celebrities'

Teenagers' obsession with stars - and blood sucking fictional characters - can become maddening sometimes.

Hrithik Roshan, the Bollywood actor, is a favourite among teenage girls.
Hrithik Roshan, the Bollywood actor, is a favourite among teenage girls.

It's like they say: teenagers are the same the world over. Now that they've got wax statues of the Twilight star Robert Pattinson in Madame Tussauds' museums in London and New York, it's added to the list of Robert Pattinson cross-stitch, chocolate Robert Pattinson and Robert Pattinson Halloween pumpkin. What Madame Tussauds has to worry about now is that the hundreds of teenagers touching the wax figure with their warm hands is going to melt the statue. I would love to see that happen, if only as proof that teenagers' obsession with stars - and blood-sucking fictional characters - can become maddening sometimes. Vanessa, a friend, has a Pattinson calendar in her bedroom, on which she painstakingly drew hearts and kisses the day she got it. She did the same to a poster featuring Edward Cullen, which is the first thing you see when you enter her room. It's not just her, either - we teenagers shall remain eternally silly all over the world.

I remember when I visited Madame Tussauds in Amsterdam and a youthful group mobbed Robbie Williams and the Spice Girls (the statues, not the real deals). Imagine: there was a time when teenagers made public their like for Robbie Williams without qualms. When Shah Rukh Khan, the uncrowned king of Bollywood, had his statue unveiled at the museum in London in 2007, ticket sales went up considerably for the next few weeks. It makes you wonder what the attraction of it all is.

Khan paid Dubai a visit a while back, presenting us with an excuse to dine at Atlantis. Extremely witty and charming, he answered all sorts of questions put forward by the audience and, in turn, did his best to embarrass spectators with his questions. When the thousand-strong audience was supposed to be asking him questions, someone stuck her hand up and pleaded for a photograph with him. "I'm not supposed to have photos taken now, but if someone as lovely as you asks for one, well ?" was Khan's reply. Buttering up much? He agreed to let her family be photographed with him, too. The girl ran up to Khan, followed by what were, I assume, her parents. A gaggle of siblings followed, then cousins and friends. Finally, all sorts of people joined in, eager to have their photo taken with the most popular actor in Indian cinema. They assured the girl that they were distant cousins of hers, which was why she hadn't recognised them, but they still counted as family.

We had another getting-in-touch-with-our-roots moment the other day when my dad arranged for us to see Hrithik Roshan, the hero of Bollywood blockbusters such as Koi Mil Gaya (I Found Someone), who was visiting Dubai. Every teenager from the subcontinent to the Middle East has heard of Roshan, and even my staunchly book-loving family had watched him on TV in the rare moments we switched it on. What I hadn't quite appreciated was exactly how much of a sensation he had caused by visiting this part of the world. Talking to a cousin in India on the phone, I mentioned that we were going to see Roshan that evening. The scream that ensued resulted in the system going bust again like it does every few hours, and two minutes of crackling.

When I managed to get her back on the line, I was told that I was her saviour because I could now be the medium through which she would meet the Bollywood heartthrob, make him fall in love with her, have him chase her through trees like they do in all Indian films, and marry him. Fifteen-year-olds dream big. He must be at least 50. OK, 36. When we did go to see him at an event in Media City, I forgot to take a picture but I plan to obtain a photo of my friend's dad, who also sports the unshaven George Clooney look like Roshan, and send it to my lovesick cousin.

I have a bet running with Mum that my cousin won't be able to tell the difference. When Roshan did come into view, he was in a golf buggy and surrounded by security personnel. I had planned to secure a few autographs to sell and make a tidy profit of a few hundred dirhams, but the wall of fans mobbing him proved too thick - and rowdy - to penetrate. The lengths some young people go to show how much they worship a celebrity makes for excellent entertainment - better than the movies the celebrities make, in fact. I've just finished downloading my friend's unshaven dad's photo on to the computer. I've added my signature silly horns and goatee for good measure, and given that it's been vandalised I think it can pass for Clooney as well as Roshan. All that's left to do now is to think of ways in which my cousin can repay me for her personalised photo of Hrithik Clooney.

* Lavanya Malhotra is a 14-year-old student in Dubai