Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
Timeline of a Paris Hilton encounter
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, a little background. Paris Hilton, American socialite and reality TV star is in India to launch her handbag line.
Hilton arrived in Mumbai on Friday and was supposed to make an appearance at a press conference at a suburban Juhu hotel at 3 p.m. on Saturday. Of course, as with most celebrity events, things didn’t pan out as planned. Here’s what happened –
3.30 p.m. – The press conference is supposed to start at three but the PR informed me a day before that I can come by 3:30. I should have seen the signs. I arrive at the venue on time. The place looks like there was a massive explosion of Gelusil (the icky pink acidity medicine). There’s pink candy floss, pink cakes, pink banners, pink everything.
3:45 – The media, some of whom have been waiting since 2:30, are finally let inside the actual venue and there’s a minor stampede to grab places. By the time the rest of us walk in, there’s only standing space left. Oh wait, there’s more pink. Macaroons, pink cookies and pink flowers on each table. We are assured the event will start by 4, but there is no sign of anyone on stage, except for a group of stern looking security guards. We are told Paris won’t be taking any direct questions so if we have any questions for her, they have to be written down on a piece of paper — they will be filtered.
4 p.m. – If you thought the event would start on time, you’ve obviously never been to one of these functions. So we grab some coffee and wait. Most of the media have a Zen look on their faces — they’ve covered enough of these events not to lose patience so early on. There’s an announcement asking the media to “settle down” and assuring us the event will start “soon”.
4:17 – By now people have finished checking their camera lens, drained their coffee and chatted enough with their neighbours. There is loud music playing and event managers continue to rush from one end of the room to the other. Most people are engrossed in their phones.
4:30 – I wish I could say something new but same as 4:17.
4:45 – Like I said, I should have seen the signs. Even the bodyguards have lost their stern look and are bored. People have finished the macaroons and cookies on their table, finished fidgeting with their phones and drained their cups of coffee. Still no Paris. Again, we are assured the event will start “any time now”.
5:10 – It’s been more than two hours since the scheduled time for the press conference. The stage is still empty. The media is still waiting. There are no apologies or announcements now. It’s as if time has stood still.
5:15 – Finally. Some movement. Hostess Mandira Bedi walks on stage and proceeds to ask the organisers of the press conference some questions, including “Are you excited about this launch?” “Yes, of course,” is the answer. Did she expect a different one, I wonder.
5:21 – The “pretend” Q&A is over and finally, Bedi announces the moment “we all have been waiting for” is finally here. The music reaches a crescendo and Paris arrives, dressed in a coral-coloured gown and flashing a smile. She poses for the photogs and says the one thing all foreign celebrities say when they come to India – “Namaste India.” There are cheers and claps.
5:30 – Bedi asks the inevitable “Will you work in Bollywood” question (yes, if the script is right) and the “What do you think of India,” question (it’s a beautiful country – the people are so warm). Paris says she’s excited about launching her business in India and that the bags are “affordable luxury” and can be carried with anything. She also informs us that she was nearly named China before her mother chose to call her Paris and says she has a friend named India, with whom she hangs out a lot.
5:40 – Paris poses before a replica of her store created on stage. Bedi thanks her for “being so open and sporting and answering all these questions” (Weren’t they filtered?). Paris flashes a coy smile and just like that, the event is over. It lasted a little more than 20 minutes.
[Paris Hilton is in Mumbai to launch her line of handbags and accessories. The handbags are priced between 2,000 and 11,000 rupees. Hilton said she would love to visit India again and wants to buy lots of saris and jewellery]