Everyone has a favourite movie star and most dream about seeing them in flesh and blood someday. An autograph or a photograph with one's screen idol is on the wishlist of every Bollywood fan.
When I tell out-of-towners that I live in Mumbai (confession: I say Bombay), I often get this reaction: WOW... you must be seeing all the actors no? They all live there! They find it hard to believe that it is possible to live in Mumbai and never see/meet an actor.
If you are in Hollywood, you can get help from Yelp, who maintains a page just for people to report celebrity sightings, but by the time you find it there, it's over. There is no website to help you meet the stars. So what can you do? Here's a list of 10 things that guarantee you'll see a movie star - or two - or more. You are welcome!
Be a mall rat!
These days you can walk into a mall and bump into an actor. Most actors do city tours for their films and on these tours, they all visit busy malls. If you are in Mumbai, chances are, you have already had your star-sighting while shopping. If you are not, keep reading newspapers. They will have the details of which actor will be visiting your city and when, what time and the venue to promote his/her latest release. You don't even have to come to the city they live in, they will come to you! All you have to do is show up. Hey, you might even get a free CD or t-shirt from them. There is always a lot of security in such situations, so you might not be able to get near your fave actor or actress but you can click as many pics as you like from a distance.
A good place to find a chef is the kitchen, a doctor is a hospital and an actor... yes, a film studio in Mumbai. There are studios like Film City, Filmistan, Yash Raj studios and Mehboob which are the busiest. Every day these studios have actors coming in and out of them at all odd hours. You could bribe a watchman and even sneak in, but if you arrive in a fancy car and dressed well, you will be ushered in, no questions asked. No car? no problem. There's still hope. Salman Khan prefers Mehboob because it is close to his house. He shoots most of his ads, and even prefers to do his film promotions from there. He often walks out or jumps on a cycle or a two-wheeler and ride home for lunch or dinner depending on whether it is a day shift or night. If you miss him, whenever he is in Mumbai, there is a crowd outside his house waiting to spot him. You are sure to spot him going in or out if you wait patiently outside Galaxy Apartments.
Amitabh Bachchan has been doing it for decades. Coming out of his house on a Sunday and his birthdays to meet the huge crowds that collect there. People come from all over the country. In the last few years, even Shah Rukh Khan has started doing the same. He comes out on a sort of a raised platform of his house and waves to the waiting fans. Last year his film Chennai Express released on Eid day, and his entire family came out to wish his waiting fans.
PS: Find out from the security guards if the actor is in town before you wait here for hours before learning that the actor is shooting out of the country.
Most movie premieres happen in Mumbai. Other favourite spots are Delhi, Dubai and London. Unless you're in the industry, you're unlikely to get a ticket to this fancy event, but you can hang around outside and watch the stars arrive. These days, casting agents hire 'fans' for premieres. Yes, people are paid to stand and shout in ecstasy when actors walk by. You get to see a star, and you get paid for it. What more could you ask for?
Be in the studio audience
Become part of the live audience for shows like KBC and interact with Amitabh Bachchan or drive to Bigg Boss sets and see Salman Khan in action! If you end up on Comedy Nights with Kapil, you might bump into any actor/actress whose film is releasing that week.
Watch a film
Actors are like us. They like to watch films. Akshay Kumar and Shahid Kapoor often go to a theatre in Juhu to watch films. PVR in Juhu is also a go-to place for other stars like Kangana Ranaut, Ranveer Singh, Shilpa Shetty, Raj Kundra, Anushka Sharma and Shahid Kapoor among others.
PSSST: Stars like late night shows so avoid going for the earlier shows if you want to boast of a star sighting.
You just have to be plain lucky for this. If you are driving past and see a huge crowd, chances are there is a shooting going on. Find out from the waiting crowds if it is someone you are interested in, and then you can wait there to see the actor emerge from his van and wave to you. Recently Ajay Devgn and Kareena Kapoor were shooting on a busy Mahim road for two days and one night for Rohit Shetty's Singham 2. They patiently posed for pics and signed autographs for everyone.
Eat with the stars!
Some stars have favourite haunts. SRK loves Olive. Karan Johar and Kareena Kapoor are partial to Nido, Hakkasan, and China House are also frequented by many stars in Mumbai.
Stars and sweat
Deepika Padukone, Sonam Kapoor and Katrina Kaif all workout at the same gym with Yasmin Karachiwala. You could enroll at the same gym, if you can afford it. Or wait outside for the beauties to emerge. Bipasha Basu is a regular at Golds Gym, as are many other actors. Or you could simply go for a run on Juhu beach. You could bump into Hrithik Roshan who works out in the open in the wee hours of the morning. The Bandra promenade and Jogger's Park is also a fave place for actors to come out for a walk in the evenings.
Hang outside airports
Stars are constantly flying in and out of Mumbai. They are going for a shooting/show/film promotion or returning home from somewhere. Bollywood blogs and tabloids will tell you when a star is flying in or flying out. All you have to do is park yourself at the Mumbai airport and your patience will be rewarded sooner or later. And if the star is in a good mood, you might even get a selfie clicked with him or her.
Keep track of the festivals
Ganpati season, the nine days of Navrati and Dahi Handi festival, you will see huge hoardings plastered everywhere in the city announcing which actor will be attending what. Yes, they get paid for these appearances so they always keep that appointment.
Many top-named film stars work on the stage, too and you'll often finding them performing, especially at Prithvi or NCPA. Naseeruddin Shah, Anupam Kher and Shabana Azmi are among those who are often spotted at these venues.