Film stars and their mobile phone habits

Simply put, you can’t be a star and not be connected by the cell-phone to the rest of humanity

Image Courtesy: themobileindian.com
Image Courtesy: themobileindian.com

Subhash K Jha

How integral the cell-phone has become to stardom! Simply put, you can’t be a star and not be connected by the cell-phone to the rest of humanity. How much so is the star’s choice. Some like Urmila Matondkar give their cell number to a privileged few. “It becomes very embarrassing when my phone starts ringing in my purse right after I’ve told someone I don’t carry one,” she giggled conspiratorially.

Others like Karan Johar use the cell-phone for their own enjoyment. I remember Sushmita Sen grabbing Karan’s ringing mobile and pretending to be his secretary. Akshay Kumar would hand the phone to you and offer, “Tu Akshay banega? le baat kar.

For a telephone person like yours truly who lives and works out of Mumbai, stars are synonymous with cell-phones. I can almost tell what they’re up to by their phone behaviour. If the phone is engaged for long hours, it means they are almost for sure into a new relationship. And if they suddenly start calling you more, it means they’re just out of a relationship.

That’s how I had found out about Kareena and Shahid Kapoor. Her phone got unusually busy. Incidentally, Kareena and Karisma’s cell numbers were separated by only one digit until recently.

Several stars, including Amitabh Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai, Sushmita Sen and Akshay Kumar, have the same number for as long as I’ve known them. Most stars choose to change their numbers only when the ‘wrong’ kind of calls start coming too frequently. Admirably, Akshay has kept the same number in spite of threats and crank calls. “Too much of a problem for those who have to be informed of the change,” he argues.

As for Mr Bachchan, no one threatens India’s greatest showbiz icon. So why should he change his number? “Thank God for the mobile. You know exactly where the kids are, and what they’re doing,” says AB Sr.

It must be mentioned here that several stars carry two mobiles. One of the numbers is strictly for family and close friends. And if a star gives you his second number, you know you are part of the inner circle.

The most frequent cell-number changers are Ajay Devgan, Preity Zinta and Priyanka Chopra. If you speak to them once every two months, you are in for trouble. But not to worry…there are touts and other elements on their sets who would more than willingly give you your favourite stars’ numbers at a price range between Rs 2,000 and Rs 12,000.

Yes, believe it or not, you can actually ‘buy’ stars’ numbers. Not everyone is comfortable with the mobile culture. The Nightingale Lata Mangeshkar started carrying a cellphone rather reluctantly. “I can read SMS messages. But I cannot send SMS,” she reveals shyly. India’s most treasured artiste is now on WhatsApp.

Javed Akhtar until recently couldn’t use the SMS services on the phone. His wife Shabana taught him how to. And now, when he isn’t writing lyrics, he writes lyrical messages to his friends.

Yash Chopra couldn’t SMS. If you sent him one, he’d call you back to answer. And if you call or SMS his son Aditya, he won’t respond. Period.

That other poet-extraordinaire Gulzar must be one of the few prominent people in the industry who refused to carry a mobile for a very long time. “I think it’s an outright intrusion. And I hate the way it intrudes on every conversation. Besides, I’m dressed in a kurta-pyjama most of the time. So, where will I keep it,” he argued.

Now, of course, Gulzar Saab carries a mobile, and yes I have his number. The only other film persons I know who don’t carry a mobile are John Mathan and Dharmesh Darshan. Om Puri carried one. But he doesn’t give the number to anyone at all.

If Preity and Priyanka change their numbers most frequently, Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Ram Gopal Varma get the prize for being the most frequent cell-phone losers. And the most frequent cellphone user will have to be…Varun Dhawan. When he’s not in a shot, he’s bound to be on phone,to the extent that his friends wonder whom he’s in earnestconversation with all the time these days! Hmmmmm…

The most diligent and meticulous responses to cellphone calls and queries always come from Amitabh Bachchan and Hema Malini. No message or call to them goes un-returned.

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