Saturday, July 12, 2008

Washroom is a great leveller

A stand-up comedian once famously remarked that Hindi film screenplays never show heroes and heroines visiting the loo. My parents used to tell me “Beta, celebrities are also humans. Just like us, they also wake up, go to toilet, brush their teeth, have bath, eat breakfast and go to work,” but I wasn’t convinced.

I’ve seen films, so many of them, some even three-four hours long and never noticed any member of the cast taking a leak even once. I would have expected at least the hero to make a quick visit to relieve himself before the all-famous climax, but no. The script-writers have chosen not to allow toilet-breaks to our film-stars.

Last month, however, the tide turned, as it were. Tinsel-town decided to convince me that’s its denizens were human too; and this happened not on the screen, but in person!
Picture this: I’m about to go into the ballroom of a five-star hotel for a press conference and before I go in, I enter the washroom for a quick hair-check. The place is unusually crowded, with tall, burly and decidedly unfriendly muscle-men looking down upon me at my unwelcome entry.

I proceed to the wash-basin dodging three men whose expressions convince me that I’m not invited. It’s not until I’ve washed my face and casually glanced into the adjacent mirror that I notice the treasure that these men are protecting.

A few feet away from me is the reigning star of the day — cigarette in one hand, blazer on the other — combing his hair, ready to dive into another promotional event. The reigning King of Bollywood quickly stubs out his cigarette, does his business, and is then whisked away by his bodyguards. I feel like a storm has passed over me.

I stand rooted on the spot and look at my reflection in the mirror. My jaws drop and I let out a muffled scream, thumping the air, as I realise the momentousness of the occasion.

Since then, by some odd coincidence, I have run into several filmy, celebrity types in that most hallowed of institutions, the men’s room. Once I even struck up a conversation in the stall next door. I’ve realised that the atmosphere in a loo creates a strange level playing field where the celebrity has no option but to surrender to nature’s demands. It’s a beautiful way of bridging the huge divide between a celebrity and a commoner. They say that death is a great leveler. But I think the loo is even better.