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Celebrity chats are common at rediff.com. Over the years, I have had the privilege of being present at some of them.
My first will be etched in memory forever. Meeting Shah Rukh Khan can be pretty owerwhelming.
Worse, I was being tagged along as a photographer! My experience in that field was strictly restricted to Kodak moments shot only when no one else was available. And here I was doing the job of a professional. I managed to do a decent job (or so I'd like to think).
Quite unlike my latest chat experience with upcoming singer Sunidhi Chauhan, who is and acts 18. The hour-long chat seemed like a Laughing Club meeting. The girl couldn't stop giggling at some of the absurd questions.
I could not help but compare. On the one hand was this superstar, professional to the point where I felt I was up against a wall. On the other hand, there's this fresher, naive, natural.
Anupam Kher came in for a rediff.com chat just after he had taken Zee Entertainment Television to court over the debacle of Sawaal Dus Crore Ka. Even so, Kher answered the questions amiably. He was truly hilarious at times.
Fashion designer Neeta Lulla was unacquainted with the concept of celebrity chatting. I was asked type for her. I had never done it before. So I wasn't sure if my speed was good enough. Worse still were my spellings.
As it happened, the chat didn't go as well as I had hoped. And it wasn't me. It was the damn questions. For some unknown reason, many of the questions were abusive and insulting. Perhaps people were not acquainted with her. I tried explaining to her that people misused the medium at times and that the questions were not to be taken personally. It didn't help. The chat wound up ten minutes before time.
Lisa Ray was a complete natural. She's probably one of the few celebrities who can type 80 words per minute, using all ten fingers. The model-turned-actress is so Internet savvy, it was a pleasure watching her. Her fingers flew on the keyboard, as she answered question after question. She was even chatting with friends on the rediff instant messenger -- Bol.
Himanshu Malik of Tum Bin was equally enthusiastic about his chat. But for different reasons. He was more than curious about all the female nicknames in the chat room. So much that people thought he was being too partial to females, ignoring the males. You had to steer him to concentrate on the males, too!
What you are is essentially an unofficial counsellor. Soothe ruffled feathers, guide the celebrities subtly towards topics you think would be more interesting, suggest ideas... Not enough to write a book, certainly. But definitely learning expericences.
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