Aug 24, 2007, IBNLive
It was a long wait…after a long chase…Sanju Baba was finally out and the media was waiting to get a statement from him. So there we all were, camping out at Nargis Dutt Road in Pali Hill, waiting for Baba to say something. Baba came home and understandably, disappeared into his house. Camera crews, journalists, press photographers, drivers all of them waiting in that narrow stretch of road. All of them up since the wee hours of morning waiting for Dutt. Some on watch since the previous night. All of them famished. But Pali Hill is a residential area, so there were no dhabas and tapris also. So how is one supposed to wait? We did not have the patience of the fans who had come all the way from Meerut and Ajmer and Indore. There were handicapped men, slum dwellers and eager women. Was it all staged? After all how did these people who looked as if they had come straight out of Chunabhatti, know Dutt was coming home in the morning, when even the media wasn’t sure till he arrived? Sleepy eyed, stomach grumbling we waited, for Dutt and for something that would keep us up and alert.
There walked in Pradeep, the young chaiwala, wearing a T-shirt that said ‘www.friends4sanjaydutt.com’. ‘Arre saab, aap sab log pahunch gaye?’ he joked with some of the familiar camerapersons. With a steel container and several miniscule plastic cups, he started doling out the elixir of the moment – Cutting Chai. Grateful journalists and camerapersons gulped down 2 cups each. Some joking with him, some teasing him for wearing the same T-shirt each time the media circus unfolded. And he teased them back, asking them about the latest chase, the starlets they met on their way to Dutt’s residence. A Delhiite, Pradeep had come to Mumbai, 2 years ago to meet Dutt. He hung around the building for about a week but could not meet Dutt. He had spent all his money and could not leave now. So he tried to get a job. And so became a chaiwala at a tapri down the road. Everytime the media is around, he entertains them with his anecdotes and more importantly with his chai. Pradeep’s case is one of the mindless fan following that film stars have in this country. And today, even though he talks about how he misses his family, he also tells us about how he has learnt to save and learnt to live a hard life.