All my life I have been leaving my house in the morning with my heart turned into a bag,
(not the jhola kind of a bag which has got a bad name these days) and walk into the bazaar of life looking for reasons to love somebody, to be happy and to smile and make life better for others.
However, these days there is an acute shortage of all that I keep looking for, but I’ve not given up hope. Yesterday, I walked out with the same intentions and desires and ended up with some reasons to be happy, like I had spoken to my daughter, Swati after a long time and I had a chat as they call it in today’s times with an ambitious young woman with the wings to fly and grab the sky and her name significantly was Seeta. I came back home and had decided to spend the rest of the night before going to bed with my own silences and thoughts and I heard my mobile calling me, the mobile which I have treated with more respect than my own wife or any other living person, especially during these lockdown times.
There was a voice which I could faintly recognize, but when I knew who I was talking to, I
realize that the voice belonged to Pooja, the woman who today is a vital part in the life and work of one of the most wanted and loved men better known as Badshah Khan. I had forgotten that I had only recently brought out an entire issue of the digital version of
Mayapuri, one of the oldest film periodicals in India which was all about the life and career of Shah Rukh Khan.
And before I could think any further, Pooja asked me to talk to Shah Rukh and I was soon
talking to the man who millions would have given their right hand to talk to at that time. He was the same Shah Rukh who I had lost touch with for four years. He was all gratitude for my taking all the efforts to bring out the issue on him and when he called my effort “a great effort” I forgot all my exhaustion and was alive again. The first thing I said to him was, “Shah Rukh, if I feel so excited at 70 to receive your call, what must be happening to all your fans who live and die for you” and he was a picture of humility when he said it was all the grace of Khuda which he has received in plenty. He asked me how much time it took me to write all those pieces and when I said “less than a week “ he said, “I admire your passion even at this age Ali Saab. You are one of my idols who I have been following ever since I came to Bombay. I have been reading your articles even while I was in college in Delhi. And I continue to be your reader even though I don’t find enough time to catch up with all that I would like to read”. It was my time to feel embarrassed and I even became one of the first or perhaps the only man at 70 to blush when he said that.
We slipped into another direction and talked about work and he said that he was very
thrilled to come back to work after a gap of 2 years and he had just completed a major spell of the shooting of his new film ‘Pathan’ which he was doing for Yash Raj films. He said it was a film that was going to play a wider role in the coming phase of his career.
I have never and will never forget how Shah Rukh supported me in every way when I had met with my accident, but I didn’t want to talk about it at this time because I knew how
embarrassed he has felt whenever this subject comes up, but even before I could think of what to say and what not to say, SRK said, “you have been a part of my growing up and you have a very special place in my family. Ali Saab anytime you need anything or are in some trouble just let me know through Pooja and I will always be there for you.” I asked him about the family and he said they were all fine and also spoke about his new responsibilities as the father of growing up children. I am now concerned about Suhaana who wants to act and may make her debut in 2021. Pray for her like I and Gauri are praying for her. It is still too early to talk about the boys. I am only happy that they are growing into good and intelligent boys”. I was still talking to him when I saw my care-taker coming towards me and I asked Shah Rukh to speak to her and when he did, I could see Pushpa, the mother of her married daughter almost going into a trance. As soon as she was normal, she went off and told all those she met in the building that she had spoken to Shah Rukh Khan and then gave the same news to her entire family somewhere on the border of Nepal and Kolkatta. I was like a fan myself and first told my 20 year old friend Aarti Mishra, and aspiring starlet and a good writer and poet about my encounter with the Badhshah and she couldn’t stop going gaga about what she called my achievement.
I then called Mr P K Bajaj the editor and publisher of Mayapuri
about the happening and he too was in some seventh heaven of his own.
That night I could feel that I was growing more silent, more humble and more introspective. Was it the effect of Shah Rukh on me? If it was, it didn’t stop even while I was trying to sleep and when I had a few winks, I saw dreams of Shah Rukh talking to me about the mistakes he had made and how he planned to rectify them in the near future. The next morning Pushpa was treating me in a much better way and she was in turn being seen with awe by my neighbors.
After all, she had the unique opportunity of talking to the one and only Shah Rukh Khan!