Stalking Dharma Productions!

15 11 2012

Just because we slacked on blogging here doesn’t mean our devotion to K Jo subsided one bit.  On the contrary, we have been following his movies, interviews, and appearances and hoping earnestly for a new season of Koffee With Karan!

It had been six years since I had been to India, so I thought it was about time I made a trip.  I booked a hotel room in Khar West for my Mumbai stay with the hope of chancing upon K Jo in the hood.  Just about a week before I was set to leave, Hiroo booked his ticket to India as well! (A small backstory: Hiroo and I met in the summer of 2009 at the W Hotel in San Francisco.  We knew that SRK and Kajol were there too, but we were there with the sole purpose of stalking Karan Johar because of his fun and dynamic personality as seen in Koffee With Karan, and the level of romantic delusion he had embedded in us.  Hiroo and my sister Anjoo and I have bonded closely over these last three years largely due to our common love for K Jo.)  Being that we would have five overlapping days in Bombay, one thing was clear: we would have to make an active effort to meet K Jo!

We decided that Monday, November 12 might be a good day to take our chance with dropping into the Dharma Productions office.  It was the day before Diwali, so perhaps K Jo would not be too stressed or busy and would just be in the process of having mithai sent to his colleagues.  We figured he would roll into the office late after some pre-Diwali partying, so we headed to the Dharma Productions office around 12:30pm.  To our surprise, nobody made any inquiries to us at the gate.  Similarly, once inside, we were allowed to get into the elevator with no hassle, and up to the second floor, the home of Dharma Productions.  We couldn’t believe we were actually in the elevator to go to Dharma Productions!  This was the elevator K Jo and Manish and so many others we adore had been in regularly!  But, I guess I shouldn’t have been so surprised.  This is really where we belong!

Once we entered the reception area, Hiroo asked the receptionist if Karan Johar was in.  She replied that he was not, and asked our names.  She seemed taken aback when Hiroo said his name, and Hiroo assured her that it truly was his name, and explained that we were fans from California that had participated in MNIK, and we wanted to wish K Jo a happy Diwali.  She offered to let us take a seat, repeating that she was not sure if K Jo would be in the office.  Several people past by, seeming amused and/our puzzled by our presence.  We were offered water and tea. A man eventually came and advised us that K Jo would not be coming in that day and was probably sleeping after the previous night’s party.  He asked if we had our cards, but we did not.

We left the office, but not the building; Hiroo had read a K Jo tweet mentioning that Costa Coffee downstairs was sort of like an unofficial Dharma office.  So we got some iced beverages and hung out outside, since Hiroo’s friend was going to drop by there anyway.  Some homeless children asked us for money, so we went inside to buy them sandwiches.  As we were coming out, Hiroo caught sight of a black Jaguar pulling into the gate, and people getting all on guard and saying things like “Saab aa gaye.”  Oh my God, was it K Jo?!  Indeed, it was.

Hiroo and I gave K Jo a few minutes to settle in before getting back into the building, into the lift, and onto the second floor.  “Hi,” we smiled broadly at the receptionist, “Is Karan here?”  She confirmed that he was and asked us to take a seat.  An assistant came and informed us that he would not be able to meet with us. “Please do something!” we begged, and she said she would try.  A few minutes later, Garima, who we understand to be K Jo’s direct assistant, quite sternly told us that it would not be possible for us to meet with K Jo.  We explained that all we wanted to do was meet him for two minutes and wish him Happy Diwali, and she said he was too busy with a meeting and would not be able to do this.  We were so sad!  Since we were not budging, she finally said we could write letters to him, and offered us some pen and paper.  She also asked if we wanted tea or water.

While in the midst of writing our letters, we heard K Jo talking very loudly from just about ten feet away, but with a damn wall between us.  I heard “Oh God!” and some imitation of someone saying “Hello Aunty!”  What was this about? What a tease! Or was it his way of providing auditory darshan since he could not meet us? Or did it have nothing to do with us and we are just being delusional by thinking it did?

Anyway, we both got a chance to express our adoration of K Jo in our letters, which hopefully have been duly provided to him.  I had my contact information at the bottom of my letter and have been checking each possible form of contact in earnest, but nothing yet. :\  I can just hear K Jo say, “Oh God, these guys are mad!” while knowing in his heart that we are truly meant to be best friends.  If you read this, K Jo, we are grateful to your staff for their hospitality, but it’s time to stop retweeting your haters and start embracing your faithfully devoted benevolent stalkers!  I am in the country until November 29, and Hiroo until some time in December, and any time you want us to come to Mumbai, we will be there in a whiff and bring a box of macarons to share with you!



Meeting Shibani Bathija!

25 05 2010

Last night, the SKJ team had the joy and privilege of attending an Authors@Google talk featuring Shibani Bathija (screenwriter of MNIK, KANK, Fanaa, and Kidnap for you clueless kids!). We watched the soon-to-be-released American edit of MNIK, which was followed by a Q&A with Shibz.

The main question on my mind with respect to the edits was, “What about Mama Jenny?” Part of me hoped to see her in her full Aunt Jemima glory, and part of that hope stemmed from my inability to imagine a seamless narrative flow if that chunk were to be removed. But, to make a spoiler short, the MNIK team magically made it work. There was at least one scene in the original that I think would have been powerful to retain (demonstrating a Hindu hotel owner’s fear and prejudice toward Muslims), but I think the end product maintains the integrity of Bollywood in its telling of a beautiful love story, while also making a timely (and timeless!) statement about how hope can conquer fear.

It was wonderful to sit in the Q&A and listen to Shibz’s very eloquent remarks on her motivations and experiences as a writer in general, and for MNIK in particular. One gentleman could not hear enough of his own voice and repeatedly assaulted Shibz with what he perceived as logical inconsistencies in the storyline. Shibz addressed his surly interrogations in a good-natured manner, acknowledging his point of view as valid but explaining some Psych 101 with respect to the fact that characters, like real people, don’t always act logically; and with respect to the liberties that were taken and indeed need to be taken at different stages of the creative process.

We were thrilled to be able to speak with Shibz after the event and pose for photographs, surrounding her and grinning in our Stalker shirts. It was evident that she would be our new BFF, were she to spend more time in the Bay, which seems rather likely!


Stalking Karan Johar infiltrates the airwaves!

22 02 2010

Produced by Pravasvani, “LRK: Bollywood, Immigration, and Beyond” is a new radio program taking place every Thursday from 10am-11am in much of Northern California, on 1170AM. Last Thursday, 2/18, LRK, Sheks, and Anjoo held a little roundtable discussion on MNIK. Check it out!

Stalking Karan Johar in The Times of India!

22 01 2010

In delirium, I was checking my Gmail through my phone one morning, and I saw that someone named Garima had sent me a message through MySpace. I logged in to MySpace, curiously, and was surprised to see that she claimed to be from The Times of India and had navigated to my page through Stalking Karan Johar, and wanted to ask some questions for an article.

The Times of India?!!! Was this a joke?

We stalkers had — partially in delusional jest, and partially with honest belief — speculated that K Jo’s eyes would fall upon our blog at some point through someone on his team either Googling their way in or being told about it by someone else who had — after all, we are not just any groupies. We are intellectual groupies. We’re cool, articulate, and witty, and just the type of stalkers that anybody would be honored to have. It’s, like, the most mutually beneficial PR ever!

What do you know? Garima turned out to be fully legit, and she had been informed about our blog by someone on the team of MNIK, and she said Karan was flattered! And she hadn’t contacted us as part of a larger story about K Jo’s fans or about MNIK, but the story was specifically about us! She sent me her list of questions, and I rapidly shared them with the co-stalkers, compiled them, and zipped them over to her along with some photos.

Check out the article, here!

epaper version here

We Made It!

26 12 2009

As should be evident from the previous entry, we stalkers actually made it into the movie, and had an amazing time. We will eventually write out our accounts of the actual extra experience, as employees of Karma Productions (the US division of Dharma Productions; we were kind of disappointed the paycheck wasn’t issued by “Dharma Productions” ;P). Below is a still from the trailer found on the MNIK website; we perseveringly re-watched and paused it about 65 times until we could identify our little crew. 😉 Trivia: Though the building says “Atlanta General Hospital,” this scene was actually filmed at the Buck Institute in Novato, California.


The SKJ Photo Extravaganza!

7 07 2009

Within a matter of weeks, we went from stalkers to extras! Here are photographs from the SF stalking on June 7, and from the filming on June 21. Click to enlarge!

Kabhi Alvida Nahi Kahenge – June 7, 2009

30 06 2009

After taking Saturday off from stalking, I ambitiously decided to scope out the W on Sunday morning with my sister Anjoo, figuring there would be fewer co-stalkers that would persevere in such a manner, and we might have easier access to our favorite Bollywood peeps in a more relaxed state. We put on our favorite springtime dresses, and on the ride over, Anjoo kept emphasizing that she did NOT want to be identifiable as a stalker.

Once again, we found rock star parking, and proceeded to take a seat in the lobby. The bar was not yet open at 9:00am, so we merely sat with our legs crossed, hands vacantly folded on our laps, and eyes pointed unwaveringly at the elevators. We were the only ones seated in the area.

After about ten minutes, we spotted a Desi man enter through the front door and walk toward the elevator with a tray from Starbucks, containing one drink. The man wore a cap, glasses, and some sort of army uniform jacket. It seemed odd that the man would be carrying only one cup on the tray, and he seemed to walk with a definite purpose and a strikingly erect posture — “the posture of servitude,” Anjoo called it. The man had to be a lower-tiered member of the crew. We decided to refer to him as “SRK’s butler.” The information was mentally filed as we kept a look out for more.

And then — lo and behold! — through the door coming in from XYZ came Manish Malhotra, looking hot and stylish as ever! Anjoo and I immediately sprang up, and Anjoo held up her camera as I proceeded to walk toward him.

Manish, looking mildly alarmed, politely stated, “I’m just going to the bathroom. You’ll be here, right? I’ll just be back.”

“Dammit,” I remarked, wistfully watching him make his way through the bathroom. “What if he doesn’t come back? What if he finds some other exit, or crawls out through the bathroom window to avoid us?”

He did come back though! Only to then say, “I’ll just finish my breakfast and come back.”

D’oh! Paranoid thoughts again ran through my head.

Dependable Manish did make a timely return, though, and we both got to shake his hand and take photographs with him. He is truly gorgeous!

With quite an accomplishment under our belts already, we were ambivalent about whether to stay further, or press our luck even more. SRK, Kajol, and K Jo might still be in the hotel and have to head out, after all, if SRK’s butler had just taken up the Starbucks. However, we were getting really hungry too, so we thought we’d stop for breakfast in XYZ. Maybe we’d get to sit at the same table where Manish had just sat! Or maybe other members of the crew would be there! Or maybe we could at least stalk more infoz out of the servers.

Nobody was seen in XYZ, but we had a rather pleasant brunch, and found out from our server that lots of Desi groupies had been coming to the bar lately, and the ones with minor children were unfortunately having to be regulated.

We took our seats back in the lobby, and a few minutes later, SRK’s butler was seen again! He had descended from the elevator, and flashed a wide smile at us, probably able to tell how much we revered him. We asked him if he was associated with MNIK, and he confirmed that he was SRK’s personal assistant. Ah-ha! He said he would just be back in five minutes to talk to us more, and then he made his way up the elevator.

Five minutes turned into ten, ten into thirty, thirty into forty-five, and then Anjoo and I decided we should give him a time limit. We decided to give him another thirty, and he made it back with about five minutes to spare.

We chatted him up in Hindi for a bit and took photos with him — Subhash was his name, and he had been with SRK for 14 years. He said that SRK had left that morning around 10:30 (d’oh! Just when we were inside XYZ!), and that the shooting was somewhere close by, but he didn’t know exactly where.

Content with all our progress, Anjoo and I decided to head back to our condo. However, Anjoo made a wrong turn somewhere, and then another while trying to correct her route — and would you flippin’ believe that we ran into the shooting, on 7th & Townsend!! “The shoot! The shoot!” Anjoo exclaimed ecstatically. Talk about the universe conspiring. We parked and hopped on over to the set, finding ourselves right next to Manish Malhotra. “Hello again,” Anjoo smiled bashfully, and Manish nodded back with a sympathetic grin.

We were forced to cross the street and join an array of other groupies, but we had quite a clear view of Karan Johar, SRK, AND Kajol! We were just so thrilled with our fortune that we didn’t mind watching SRK enact the same scene over and over and over again, walking to the street corner with furrowed eyebrows and a hulking backpack, and bending over.

Then we saw a huddle of people walking away from the scene, including Manish, and Kajol, and someone carrying an umbrella over Kajol’s head. “Let’s follow them!” I exclaimed. However, we lost them by the time we were able to cross the street and get into the car.

We never would have suspected that the future would hold even more promise…


Koi Mil Gaya! – June 5, 2009

30 06 2009

For the third day in a row, I planned to stalk the W, this time with my BFF and college room-partner, Don. We had to drop by a happy hour by the Embarcadero earlier in the evening, and would later have to venture to the Haight to gorge on deep-dish pizza — but the W could be sandwiched in; indeed, it was quite a priority. Don had her iPhone in tow and dutifully charged up; it would be needed to take photographs, as my camera had been recently tarnished.

We were worried that parking would elide us in any reasonable proximity to the hotel, but alas — the stars aligned, and we found a spot right outside. We sauntered in, hoping as usual to maintain an incognito guise in spite of our melanin. We spotted two young women perched in the lobby, either Desi or Afghan, looking quite primped up and lively. Don and I took a seat next to them and speculated on their relation, if any, to My Name Is Khan; were they other stalkers, or were they possibly part of the crew?

The women, though, were quick to discern our relation, and called us out on being co-stalkers, thereby outing themselves as well. Happy to have allies who could share further juice, we engaged in conversation with them, and learned that they had seen SRK in the hotel lobby a couple days prior, but weren’t allowed by security to take photographs with him.

About ten minutes in, Don had to make a phone call using her iPhone, and I began fiddling with assorted documents in my purse, when I saw the co-stalkers suddenly jolt up and crowd a man in dark goggles and an Armani sweater who had just entered the lobby from the elevator area. One of the co-stalkers threw her camera at me, and I realized while documenting this event that it was Jimmy Shergill!

“Don!” I urged, “Get off the phone! We need it to take a picture!”

Don deliriously hung up on the spot and threw her phone at the co-stalker to take the photograph. We posed on either side of Jimmy, flashed smiles, and merely thanked him at the end, as if he were a character at Disneyland. (He wouldn’t have been able to engage much with us, anyway, as he was immediately swarmed by aunties clad in salwar kameezes.)

Among Don’s delightful quirks is her refusal to wear glasses, or contact lenses, despite a considerable need for vision correction. Hence, after having just posed in such an excited manner, she inquired, “Who was that?” “Jimmy Shergill!” I laughed. “Oh! I love him!” she exclaimed, now excited with cause.

And so went our first successful Bollywood celebrity sighting — certainly not the last.


Tasveer Dekho Na – June 4, 2009

22 06 2009

As a lifelong introvert, I live an outwardly conservative life (for the most part). The life I live in my head is a vastly different story. It is much more flamboyant, with me taking on the roles of various characters that impact the lives of others in some way. For example, I’ve been a brown skinned equivalent of James Bond, I’ve been a time traveler who goes back in time to change his future, I’ve been an officer on a starship, I’ve been a vampire in the Renaissance…. you get the idea. Since it’s not possible to actually do any of these things, it was always a childhood dream of mine to be an actor. However, as brown skinned actors in Hollywood are a rarity, that dream eventually faded and gave way to another dream: to be a filmmaker. I’m slowly plugging away trying to make that dream a reality, but my increased exposure over the past several years to Bollywood has revived the dream of being an actor. I won’t say that it’s a full fledged revival, but I definitely think that I may have something to add to Bollywood. Let’s be real; I don’t have delusions of being a Bollywood star, regardless of any resemblance I may or may not have with a certain actor, but I think it would be pretty cool to see myself on a Bollywood screen in some way.

It’s always a surreal moment when it becomes apparent that a dream is on the verge of becoming reality. The discovery that Karan Johar had finally arrived in San Francisco to shoot My Name Is Khan was one of those momentous occasions that caused a rift in the space-time continuum of my universe. The line between my dreams and my reality began to severely blur and the two started to mesh. My imagination ran wild and never came back. Not only would I possibly have the chance to be in a Bollywood movie, but I would possibly have a chance to be in a Bollywood directed by Karan Johar, starring Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol! In my head, that’s essentially the Bollywood equivalent of the Holy Trinity. Of course, this possibility only existed in my head by way of somehow tracking down the shoot locations and somehow convincing Karan Johar to let us be included in the film in some way. I wasn’t exactly sure how any of this would be done, but those who know me know that I’m an eternal optimist.

However, LRK not only solved the problem, but reigned in and gave focus to the fantasy with her discovery of an extras casting call for the film on a message board. “That’s more like it,” I thought. Applying for that would be much easier than anything my crazy mind would have thought of. And there was no time to wait. They would be in town for the next 6 weeks, and we had to get on board right away. We decided that the applications must be submitted the very next day in person, no less, as it stated on the posting that submitting in person had a chance of us being cast right away.

The application required us to provide certain vital statistics and two photographs: one closeup and one full standing shot. The previous night at the W, it had been suggested to us that shooting might be taking place in Golden Gate Park. We thought it would be a good idea to shoot the required pictures at Golden Gate Park, print them out at a nearby Kinko’s, submit them to the Beau Bonneau casting office in person, and then scour Golden Gate Park for the shoot. With so much success under our belt already, we figured that there was no harm in indulging ourselves with a little exploration.

The plan of action was to do this as early as possible, with us getting up and setting things in motion at 8AM. That of course did not happen. After the exhaustion from the excitement of the previous late night, I wasn’t able to get up until after 10AM. It was that feeling of exhaustion that one has after a full day and night of fun and magic at Disneyland for the first time. Predictably, we weren’t on our way to the city until well after 1pm.

We took the first parking spot in front outside of the park as we weren’t really familiar with the area, and decided to walk around looking for the shoot with our photography equipment in hand with the hope that we would stumble upon the set and be mistaken for local crew members who were supposed to be there. For some reason, I thought nothing should be left to chance and had brought my tripod along with me, with the intention of placing my extremely slim and tiny digital camera at the top. This might have seemed like a good idea in theory, but when seen in practice after finding an appropriate spot in the park, it was clearly nothing but the ridiculous action of a person with delusions of grandeur. That would be me in case you were wondering.

After wandering around with no indication that anything was going on in the area, LRK decided to ask a random park employee who was selling tickets for some part of park if she knew anything about a Bollywood film shoot in the area. She didn’t. I suggested to LRK that she should start asking about an Indian film shoot because everyone might not be aware of the term “Bollywood.” The thought had never occurred to her that someone wouldn’t know what Bollywood is, being so immersed in all things Bollywood. When it seemed like nothing would be gained from trudging around the park with a tripod and backpack, we decided that maybe we should just take the pictures there instead of getting lost in the park and not being able to get to the casting office before they closed.

The tripod was set up and the pictures were taken. Kinko’s was located and the pictures were printed. The gravity of the situation began to take hold when we arrived at the casting office. It was a nondescript hole in the wall. For a split second, this caused me to think the whole thing was all a ruse, until we made our way inside. There was a flier on the wall just before the staircase that said “My Name Is Khan – Extra Work Submissions – Please walk up one flight and place in the box.” There was nothing else to do except follow the directions. As we walked up the stairs, delusions of being cast on the spot floated through our minds. We reached the top and there was a box directly below the front desk for the submissions. The office wasn’t as busy as it was described in the ad, and it was manned only by one person. It didn’t look like we would be cast on the spot. Oh well. Being in a position where we were submitting photos for consideration in a Karan Johar film was more than enough.

The events of the past two days had left us in a sort of exhausted delirium. But more than anything, we were hungry. We settled on pupusas in the Mission district (my first time). I’ll probably be relinquishing any sort of SF hipster cred I may have had with this next statement, but I wasn’t really impressed with the concept of pupusas. They wouldn’t be my first choice of random munchie-fulfilling snack in the city. Probably not even a sixth or seventh choice.

With bellies full, we returned to Golden Gate Park in a last ditch effort to find the shooting location. We drove from end to end, crisscrossing wherever we could and covered the park probably a total of five times. It was beginning to seem apparent that we were going on incorrect information. We decided to return to the hotel and have a drink with hopes that perhaps we would catch the crew on their return. One of the waiters recognized us from the night before and sat down and chatted with us for a bit. He was much friendlier this time than he was the night before. We sat for maybe an hour but none of the crew was seen. We were most likely too early, but staying longer wasn’t an option as  full fledged exhaustion was setting in. We paid the bill and headed home while fantasies of appearing in a Karan Johar film danced in our heads.


Karan Ji Ghar Aaye – June 3, 2009

18 06 2009

The discovery of Karan Johar’s presence (not to mention that of Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol) in San Francisco for the shooting of “My Name Is Khan” was made on June 3, when a friend of LRK’s made an allusion to it over Facebook. Deft Twitter-stalking led to more clues as to K Jo’s whereabouts: someone mentioned spotting him at the bar of the W; and the casting call for extras was found, revealing that shooting would continue in the area through the middle of July.

LRK, Sheks, Anjoo, and Don were thrilled with the news. Could it be true? Would stalking Karan Johar finally move from cyberspace to the physical space, in their own home town? So surreal the thought!

Analysis and action promptly ensued by LRK and Sheks, with the most flexible schedules.  Sheks conjectured that the W bar was not only a spot where K Jo would like to get a drink, but indeed, the W would be his preferred dwelling quarters; three hours later, LRK and Sheks found themselves at the front desk of the W, prepared to wander the city aimlessly in the absence of a clear confirmation as to K Jo’s presence. Normally a somewhat reserved individual, LRK’s unusually high level of Bolly-drenaline enabled her to fearlessly approach the front desk worker and nonchalantly inquire over the room number for Karan Johar. The front desk worker was unexpectedly accessible in addressing the subject matter, but indicated that he could not give out such information as the room number; however, he could transfer LRK to said guest’s room so she could speak to him on the telephone. The last name was repeated, first named confirmed, call transfered, phone not answered — but thus, it was confirmed that K Jo was indeed staying at the W.

Minutes later, Sheks and LRK — reveling in their instant success for this first crucial step of stalking — had made themselves a comfortable spot in the W lounge and had proceeded to incur a bar tab featuring assorted cocktails, pizza, and french fries. They attempted to camouflage themselves with the normative W clientele rather than being mistaken for the two probable types of Desis there that night — Java Convention attendees, or “My Name Is Khan” groupies — but they were apparently unsuccessful in that endeavor, as an animated Desi man named Hiroo (a namesake of K Jo’s mother) approached them within seconds of eye contact and began comparing notes as to the activities of SRK and Karan Johar. LRK and Sheks knew they had found a lifelong friend in Hiroo.

Several hours later, after having informally interviewed several staff members, Sheks and LRK decided it was time to make a bolder move and visit the floor where the crew’s suites were likely to be located. They managed to navigate to the appropriate floor of the hotel, and outside one of the rooms, saw a brown paper bag filled with wrapped up Indian take-out. They knew K Jo and company had to be nearby.

After pacing the hallway and trudging up and down a few flights to see how far the crew might be spread, and pressing their ears against various walls, the two decided to perch on the windowsill of the floor and await a potential exit of K Jo or SRK from a potential meeting being held in one of the rooms. An hour and a half into said perching, the door opened; it was neither K Jo nor SRK making the exit, but an unidentified Desi man. Another unidentified Desi man was holding the door open and saying goodbye, when his gaze caught Sheks and LRK perched on the windowsill. Sheks looked down with ferocious concentration on his iPhone, but LRK could not find any way to address the situation other than to guffaw, to the wrath of the onlooker.

After the man closed the door, LRK and Sheks decided they had had enough successes and adventures for the night. They went to their respective abodes, prepared to return to San Francisco the next morning to complete a photoshoot and submit their applications to be extras.