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Mangalore: 'Am Gonna Miss Kalam a Lot... Katrina a Little...'
by Divvy Kant Upadhyay

July 26, 2007

A Lil' Bit of 'Divvy'-ation

Salam, Kalam Sir

Seeing a celebrity from close quarters has always been exciting beyond any doubt. Especially if the celebrity is a 20-something female who is stunningly beautiful and gorgeous.
Bollywood beauty Katrina Kaif was in town on Wednesday, July 25, 2007 to inaugurate a brand new gold shop. Now a town like Mangalore, though has seen many high-profile visits recently, it still does not really have such big shot celebrities coming every second day.
Being an amateur journalist, I hadn't been ever before to a celebrity's press meet, though had seen several on television. So a little excited and obviously charged up sitting across someone as hot as Katrina in a superbly air conditioned hall of a luxury hotel, I jumped to put forth the first question as soon as the meet was thrown open to questioning.

The sound technician immediately handed me a mike and told me to switch it on. When I did so, the mike still didn't work and I looked in the direction of the technician making some signs like a mad man, for something so simple. For a second I thought was I really star-struck?

'Just relax, dude,' is what I told myself but before I could think anything else, the velvety voice of the actress crackled into my ears for the first time since she entered the hall… "I guess we can hear you even without the mike," is what she said.

'No doubt sweetheart', I exclaimed to myself silently. After all, I was sitting hardly five metres away from her, right in the centre of the very first row of seats. But then as it always happens, the mike started working and I put forth my question looking at her, trying hard not to get dazzled by the enormous amount of gold which still failed to outshine the glow her skin had.

"Madam, Let's imagine you get a chance to vote for the presidential election and there is APJ Abdul Kalam on one side and Pratibha Patil on the other…who would you have voted for?"

Though I was excited, I did realize that for those few seconds every eye in the room did turn to look at the me for having asked such an out-of-context question at a press meet called by a jewellery outlet opening its new showroom in the city.

Katrina Kaif, slightly taken aback, actually first reconfirmed if the question was directed towards her. When I nodded my head, she thought for a moment and said, "I would have probably voted for Pratibha Patil." Now whether that was her womanly instinct speaking or not, one might not know, but she did frankly admit that she wasn't very politically oriented or too interested in such matters. Katrina, then quickly added that she also appreciated APJ Abdul Kalam. In fact she even recollected having met him once.

I had actually asked the question with a hell lot of expectation, wondering what a public celebrity like her would opine about the just-concluded controversial presidential elections in the country. I thought most people in the nation would have read former president Kalam's farewell speech to the parliament or at least would have seen and analysed his brilliant farewell address to the people of this nation in which he envisioned a better time for our country and our people. The same vision in which he saw a balanced growth happening in our country that would take our nation cruising ahead to become a developed nation.

Personally, it actually saddens me to see Dr APJ Abdul Kalam leave the highest office of our nation. But everything has to come to an end, just like 'Life' itself. I am too young to do a critical analysis of president Kalam, but one thing is sure, I have felt extremely proud every single time I have seen him as the president of this country. We, the so-called intellectual and educated class in India, did make him a popular president, but we still failed to use the opportunity provided by him to separate politics from governance. My feelings might be childish, but I really feel, distinguished teachers and thinkers ought to be at the top most positions of this nation.

Now getting back to the beautiful lass, Katrina….well with my first question being shot down, I rapidly put forth my second question. It was the first time I was at a celebrity conference, but trust me I was feeling as if I was in one of those press conferences where prime ministers and presidents are bombarded with questions. So already myself on fire, I fired the second question, "Ms Katrina, you have today come to the city which is considered home to a colleague of yours in the film industry, Shilpa Shetty…Recently she was awarded an honorary doctorate by a British university. Any comments ?

All Katrina did was give that million-dollar smile and confess she did not know a thing about that fact that I just mentioned.

I was under the impression that most people knew about this 'great' achievement by one of the perhaps most famous Indians in the United Kingdom today. After all, racism got a whole new meaning and limelight after the much-hyped reality show. How much reality it could actually infuse across the world, I hardly understood. When I had heard of our Big B get some honorary doctorates, it simply suited him. Someone who can remain the most talked about and appreciated personality for over three decades might certainly deserve a doctorate.

But personally I was shocked to see India's new face in UK, Shilpa Shetty, being bestowed with an honorary doctorate by a well-known British University. I had seen that news item on television along with the other news in which the British and Australian prime ministers were talking of stern measures to crack down on anti social elements, especially the very lethal and dangerous ones.

Imagine an honorary doctorate being bestowed by a distinguished University upon a young Indian actress, well endowed (perhaps, thanks to surgery) but with mediocre talent, basically a mere entertainer. The doors seem to be opening for the Indian movers and shakers; whereas, at the same time, the same doors are being closed for qualified healers.(Some, in fact many of the well-qualified Indian healers are, if reports are to believed, actually responsible for strengthening the NHS in the UK a decade or two back.)

I guess this is the time in this world where all that matters is what sells. People are making millions by the minutes. The same minutes within which, as some reports claim, the lives of a few children in our country are lost owing to treatable diarhhoea or respiratory infections. The same minutes, in which women are still being raped, be it the posh localities of the country's capital or the dusty roads and lush farms of some far-off village. Families and brothers still split over property inheritance or bank balances. Politicians are making sure that caste discrimination remains if they have to remain in power.

See how easily yet another cunning minister played his pro-reservation cards and brought the youth of the middle and upper middle class of India on the roads. We have seen enough and more fanatics professing destruction; is it really plain idealistic to dream of fanatics ( or eccentrics like APJ Abdul Kalam) who can possibly, just possibly take the nation to greater heights?

All right, too much of talking I guess...right? Actually that's exactly what I thought after Katrina broke into that million-dollar smile for a second when I had asked her my second question. I simply decided not to ask anything else, lest I get kicked out of the posh hotel for traumatizing our cute damsel with irrelevant-to-the-occasion political questions.

Hell has been raised over the arrest of Dr Haneef in Australia. Confusing reports come every day. All one could perhaps do is pray for the best for mankind, be it Glasgow, Sydney or Mumbai. It is certainly important for Dr Haneef and his family that the case and investigations get over fast, yet fairly. But every aspiring medico in the country today knows that damage has already been done to the profession, generally considered to be the noblest of all.

Personally, according to me, world over, it would be mankind's greatest tragedy if words like Healers and Doctors get associated with Terror and Death.

Back to the conference…So, while the young lady, our very own dear Katrina, was answering and shooting down other questions fired at her, I suddenly got stimulated towards the fag-end of the questioning round, to ask her yet another question ..

"Ma'am.. any comments on the Dr Haneef's issue …," I let my voice trail of. She smiled looking at me ( at least I think so!! ) and I shrugged my shoulders holding the mike. (at that particular time, apart from other things I realized I was PERHAPS, the only fool in the conference to still use the mike.)

Anyway what she said next with that cute smile and quick wink had the whole hall laughing like crazy. Actually after I put forth that question to her, Katrina took the mike and said "…looks like you have come with a very serious mood today; I guess we will discuss and have a chat later about those kind of questions." As soon as she said that, everyone in the crowd including me had a hearty laugh.

Deep inside I was still worried if I would actually be kicked out of the hall.( though people who know me and have seen me personally know very well it's next to impossible to kick out a mass as heavy as me ! )

Well, the organizers then called for an end to the meet and invited all the journos to the showroom for the official inauguration… Being closest to the podium and very naïve in interacting with celebrity actresses, I went up to the dazzling beauty and asked her innocently "… do I need to take an appointment prior to meeting you in case I want to interview you.." This time one or two of the organizers or her personal staff actually came up very close to me and I thought that was the end of it, but then came the punch-line.

That's when the tall beauty with fairer-than-the-fairest skin, who is certainly a beautiful example of the beautiful exceptions found in the fairer sex, floored me with her reply. She said, "Don't worry; we'll certainly meet some day. Believe in destiny. We'll certainly meet some day and then we can have that chat that you want to. Trust me I have that charm in me."

Now that's what Katrina Kaif told this amateur journalist. Since there was so much crowd and noise, I actually did not hear the last word carefully, whether it was 'Charm'.. I am certain she is one irresistibly charming personality. Or whether the word was 'charge'… I bet she has that 'charge' in her to ignite a million passions…Anyway I couldn't care less about that last word. I was practically in seventh, perhaps the seventeenth, heaven when a Bollywood actress, steamingly hot and beautiful, perhaps my age, or maybe even younger to me, certainly million times richer than I am, told me to have faith in destiny.

I wonder what destiny holds for our country. Almost all of us are so talented, energetic, even patriotic, but still for ages we have been lamenting over either this issue or that issue, still nothing happens and we are mute spectators to all that happens in governance and politics.

What destiny holds for this city is exciting. Going through a growth boom, it is seeing development at rapid progress. Malls, Cineplexes, Designer showrooms for everything under the sun and high-profile shops like this jewellery one that opened just oon Wednesday. You name it and its happening in this city, already known for its business and educational opportunities.

But what about the roads? Even the time when we would hear someone say 'swalpa adjust maadi' has gone. How come are we racing ahead with so much development when the roads we move on have more potholes than the number of people in this country…Katrina and all those celebrities who come to Mangalore, please start a campaign for better roads by complaining to those big shots you people know and keep meeting here and there…whether here in Mangaluru or Bengaluru… maybe, just maybe, they will give heed to your complaints or rather advice…!

Well, that was it. I guess I am gonna have one helluva sleep tonight with the sweetest of dreams one can ever see… Katrina telling me to believe in destiny, I still can't believe it !

For a second, I was afraid my cheeks would be brightly red, even more than the beautiful bright red sari she was wearing at the press meet…but as soon as I got excited, I realized I am not exactly from the fairer section of the non-fair sex ! My thoughts still wandered away to the lawns of Rashtrapati Bhavan which I saw on a news channel on Wednesday morning…. It's just not those lawns and their occupants, but many million Indians who are going to miss president Kalam at the technically, but not practically, top post of our nation. We'll miss you, Kalam sir, for a very very long time.

And I might also miss, for a little time maybe, the stunningly beautiful lady from Bollywood. Let's see what Destiny shows me…

Thank you for patiently listening to my story, nevertheless.... 

The Bollywood stunner in Mangalore:

Divvy Kant Upadhyay - Archives:


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Comment on this article

  • Divvy Kant Upadhyay, Delhi / Mangalore

    Tue, Jul 31 2007

    Dear Kavita , Shiva, Dr.Shahnawaz, Nelson Lewis, Nitin, Vaishalee…Thankyou very much . Eventhough I don’t know you people personally, All of you have been one of the greatest sources of inspiration I have had in the last few months..thank you again for the encouragement … keep loggin into Daiji… Love n Regards, Divvy Kant

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  • vaishalee, India

    Mon, Jul 30 2007

    Wonderfully written article,so many critical issues were touched upon but by way of narrating a story.I feel if youngsters like you who read your article would get some inspiration to contribute in any which way to the development of the nation,it is worth writing.

    Even if it means taking time out of your tight study schedule for your final year of best wishes to you for having such mature outlook about things in general (which many highly qualified and high positioned people usually tend to ignore).Keep it up & help awakening the youth.

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  • NITIN, Mangalore

    Fri, Jul 27 2007

    See the movie PARTNER and you will see how you can make your Destiny....Govinda created his destiny to marry Katrina....

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  • Nelson Lewis, Karkala/Bombay/Kingdom of Bahrain

    Fri, Jul 27 2007

    Divvy Kant Upadhyay, you have written a good article. Please keep up writing interesting pieces so that we can read them and derive maximum pleasure and knowledge. I to feel saddened that Dr. A.P.J. Kalam did not get the second term. He could have served one more term.

    Sadly, due to the machinations of the politicians and the people not having voting rights, that was not to be. In a public poll, Dr. Kalam had 73% popularity ratings. However, this noble man will always be remembered for all his contributions and achievements and, unlike his successor, not for all the wrong reasons that we have read about her in the media and on the Internet.

    Further, I felt that it was preposterous for a U.K. University to confer an Honorary Doctorate on Shilpa Shetty. My question is for what she was conferred this honour? Does she really deserve it? If a run-of-the-mill "nach gana" actress like her could get such honours, then it would be an insult to accomplished actreses like Shabana Azmi, Nandita Das, Om Puri, Naseeruddin Shah, etc.

    Especially, Om Puri and Naseeruddin Shah are the most well known Indian faces in international films. Normally, Honorary Doctorates are awarded to VIPs who have made enormous tangible achievements and letters against their names, but conferring such an honour on Shilpa Shetty does not want make any sense.

    I feel is a crude joke. As regards Katrina Kaif, I have always considered her a lady with stunning and breathtaking looks. Simply, a ravishing beauty, though she has not made much impact on Bollywood. Maybe she will grow in strength as time goes by. My best wishes to her.

    However, many celebrities maybe good in their trades and selling their wares, but when it comes to general knowledge or current affairs, they are totally ignorant. When Divvy Kant Upadhyay put two or three questions to her, I feel she is ignorant of events in the world or she did not want to invite problems and criticisms on her.

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  • Dr. shahnavaz Manipady, Mangalore/ Bikernakatta

    Fri, Jul 27 2007

    Pretty impressed with the way the current issues were discussed and narrated. The article was as spicy as Mangalore 'Kory Rotti' with katrina kaif. Nevertheless, Divya upadyaya is a fantastic story teller.

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  • shiva, usa

    Fri, Jul 27 2007

    I enjoyed reading your article. You have very nice way of narration and good command over language. Three suggestions (I am not a journalist nor good in English). 1. Do not intertwine too many topics. 2. Don't be apologetic about your age or maturity. Some may misread that as defence. 3.Don't take these suggestions more seriously than needed .

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  • Kavita, India

    Fri, Jul 27 2007

    Lovely article, first article that I really liked and u're right, we should be proud of the educated President - Kalam.I also dont understand how a UK university could have honored Shilpa Shetty with the doctorate. What ever happened to those that really qualified?

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