“Let me tell you something. A star is most appreciated from afar. A star who sits at a small tea shop depreciates his/her value.” Not so long ago, a struggling screenwriter gave this advice to me when I told him I am going to a dhaba to have tea with friends. Of course, I didn’t listen.
The other day, I went to a film premiere. Since I have become a public figure, I have been introduced to this non-financial benefit of being a celebrity. But in normal people’s language, it is known as being a mufta. The perks include a free ticket with popcorn and drink, and the added bonus is meeting important people who can see how hot you have become, so that they consider you when they start a new project.
“Oh, did you look at Sanam? She used to look like a bloody behan ji... wearing Gulf clothes and dating a nobody. But now, she looks like Anushka Sharma before she messed up her face, wearing Tom Ford and is Humayun’s mistress.” This is the kind of conversation you overhear when you are at a premiere. I have seen people who I idolised as a kid... who are gods in the world of acting, fight over free popcorn.
“I have done over a thousand television dramas and written poetry. I have performed on the Broadway. How dare you not caramelise my popcorns for free?!” Models trying to move ahead in the ticket line by flirting with old businessmen who have sponsored the show. The old uncles always fall for it, not just in the ticket line but even when it’s time to decide who to feature in a commercial for their brands. You know the kind of commercial in which they have to show Lahore, but will be shot in Thailand, obviously.
The ultimate tease of the beautiful celebrity is never-ending. These uncles have no clue what the plot of the film or play’s story is, who is performing and why it is being performed. They are there because of two reasons: one, their company paid for it and two, they hope that one day, they will date an actor who they will flaunt at the head office. (They actually end up marrying Afsheen phuppo’s youngest daughter Bublee).
Then you will see some socialites. Don’t know who they are? I’ll tell you. Remember not having a purpose in life because you are three months old and can’t even pronounce the word ‘purpose’? Socialites are just that, only, they remain in this state perpetually. These people only exist so that they can take pictures with important people for their Facebook profiles, feel significant by having smart people around them and finally, get invites to premieres.
And then, the show starts. Everyone heads to the hall… at the same time. I have come to realise that the inability to make a queue is common in all Pakistanis. It’s not education, class, exposure or any other factor, which causes this behavioural lapse. It’s just genetic. Maybe, we could have gained independence earlier than 1947, but we just couldn’t make a line, so it took longer. Third-world celebrities are too important to wait in a line. On the other hand, Robert De Niro still uses a cab to get around town. But, God forbid, if anyone asks Ayesha to stand in a line with others! Don’t you know that she has done three freakin’ television dramas? She is not an extra, damn it!
Finally, the movie starts. Throughout the film, we hear one actor bash the other, a model badmouthing her contemporary and a brand representative hating the other. All this isn’t happening in the film... it’s happening in the audience. Who cares why Pi took a boat ride with a tiger? But after the film is over and the audience members wait for the valet to bring their cars, everyone becomes an AO Scott.
Once, I saw an English-language film at Bambino cinema. But the obnoxious hooting, use of laser pointers and constant loud remarks weren’t as bad as this premiere’s. May God bless us all!
Published in The Express Tribune, August 10th, 2014.
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