kareena kapoor

It’s been one year now and there is still no response from her. Not even an acknowledgement for all those messages I have been sending her way.

I am even losing interest in her Instagram posts. Often I prefer to take a break for days from social media, to overcome frustration caused by her indifference towards me.

Earlier, I used to like almost all her posts and made sure to leave a comment beneath. But it’s not the same anymore.

That might be true for others who have celebrity crushes which usually end up with disappointments, but I wasn’t expecting this, at least in my case. After all, I am not just another fan. I have written a book on her film career.

My infatuation with Kareena started way back in early 2000s when she stepped into the Indian film industry. I always found her beautiful and attractive. Her flowing hair, fair skin, gorgeous eyes and charming smile were simply irresistible. She looked hot in any attire on the screen or for her photo shoots.

I kept looking for magazines carrying her pictures and surfing for more on the internet. Even until recently, my day would begin first looking for news about her and images on my Iphone. In my early years, my cheeks turned red whenever she popped up on TV. Oh boy, will I ever meet her one day? Being a middle-aged man with wife and two kids has not stopped me from dreaming about dating her. Almost everyone in my life knows about my fondness for her. And why wouldn’t they, after noticing my Facebook posts and TikTok music videos I have made for her, much to the embarrassment of my family?

I never missed any of her new films. But soon, being a political journalist, I began following her work more seriously and tried to see her performance, especially in meaningful movies, using a very different lens. With a changed political environment of India over the past eight years that urge turned even stronger.

I have not succeeded in my attempts to interview her, or get her attention on Instagram where she remains active, but I was lucky enough to get pictured with her wax statue at Madame Tussauds Museum in London in 2014. My wife who accompanied me was kind enough to take a nice picture of me with her replica. I still remember Rachna teasing me and telling me not to be shy and hug the statue for a memorable image. Rachna has always been like that. A big hearted woman, who only wants my happiness.

That same year, India elected Hindu supremacist Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Little did I realize that this year in history was going to redefine my relationship with Kareena.

I worked with an ethnic radio station as a talk show host in Surrey. The owners wanted me not to be too critical of Modi, as they did not want to annoy a new government under him. A fiery argument ensued, after which I quit, only to found myself more isolated within the South Asian community that rarely dared to challenge Modi, except during the recently concluded farmers’ protest in the streets of India.

Ever since he became the leader of the world’s so called largest democracy, attacks on religious minorities, especially Muslims, have spiked. Film actors from the Muslim community were not immune to such hate. Not surprisingly, being married to Muslim co-star Saif Ali Khan, Kareena became a target of such madness.

Born in a prominent Punjabi Kapoor Hindu family, she chose a man from another faith group to be her husband, despite him being ten years older than her  with grown up kids from his previous marriage.

The early signs of impending intimidation and harassment started showing when they married in 2012.

The followers of Modi, who was still waiting to become the future leader of India, accused Saif of luring her and forcibly converting her to Islam. That’s the argument they use to go after interfaith couples, particularly to discourage Hindu women from marrying Muslim men.

Undeterred by anti-Muslim hysteria, she adopted Khan as her last name, without giving up Kapoor or her Hindu identity.

By the time, the couple was blessed with their first child in 2016, Modi was in power. Even though Saif and Kareena met him at a public event, following which Saif had showered unnecessary praises on the Prime Minister, they both came under attack for naming their son “Taimur”, which means iron. The supporters of Hindu Right took it as an assault on their religion, claiming that it was the name of a Muslim conqueror, who some believe tormented Hindus.

Kareena was brave enough to withstand pressure of changing his name. The story did not end there, and was repeated in 2021 when she delivered her second son. The child was named Jeh, meaning “to come”. This too was misinterpreted as short form of Jihad.

Around this time, I had finished writing my book on her. Until then I had written several articles on her work and the challenges she was facing in a toxic environment created by Islamophobes in New Delhi. During the pandemic I began thinking of writing this book to let the world see her struggle. I was deeply disturbed to see the way she was ridiculed by the troll army which was said to be created by the IT cell of Modi’s party.

I took out time to watch all her movies again, including those I had accidentally missed, and to take notes of her posts on social media on issues that concerned  humanity. She has been vocal against sexual violence with political undertones and also racism and police brutality.

In 2018, she came under attack for standing up for Asifa Bano, an eight-year-old Muslim nomad girl, who was raped and murdered by the Hindu fanatics to terrorise the community of the victim. This episode was followed by protests all over the globe, including here in Metro Vancouver. Since then any innocent mistake she makes as a public figure becomes an excuse for the trolls to put knife on her throat.

It was decided then that a book on her is a must. I called up a publisher in Chandigarh to see if he would be interested, after another one in New Delhi flatly refused. A few others did not bother to respond.

The one in Chandigarh showed his eagerness. I sent him my manuscript a few months later, only to be kept waiting indefinitely. After a while, I messaged him to find why there was so much delay. My world was almost turned upside down when he asked me to take out political references. I had to tell him that those references were the reason why I have written the book in the first place.

I then went to another publisher in Ludhiana and the book was finally out. My journalist friends in India launched it on her birthday on September 21, 2021 at a press club in Chandigarh in my absence since I wasn’t in a position to travel to India. They sincerely tried to promote it in spite of potential challenges from the Hindu Right.

The book release was reported by several media outlets, and I had a copy sent to Kareena’s valid address in Mumbai through a well-respected journalist.

Now I was anxiously waiting for a feedback from her. I remained hopeful that she would acknowledge it soon. That’s the best birthday gift a fan could offer a star. Or so I thought.

Friends and relatives began sending me congratulatory notes, with some wondering whether she knows about the book launch, or any word from her. Some of her fans started approaching me through twitter to find out how can they get a copy? But all this only added to more uncertainty.

The wait continued for days, while big media in India kept talking about daily activity related to her family, friends, parties and business, but not a word about my book. No serious review, except a few commentaries – less than five in number.

Then I began messaging directly to her and her manager. A deafening silence followed. My best options now were to contact her father and a veteran actor, besides her actor sister. I requested both separately through Instagram to help me reach out to her so that my book gets some kind of endorsement. All these efforts remained fruitless. It was clear now that my book won’t get much attention from her, let alone the big media. Her single post about it would have generated huge interest, but that never happened. My only hope to connect with my favourite diva also faded.

It is hard to figure what could be behind such disinterest, but I am guessing it has to do a lot with the vicious socio-political environment of the country under Modi, and its spill over effect on Bollywood.

I have reasons to believe that she and people in her team are aware of my book. Considering that the book launch was reported by a few prominent newspapers in and outside India, how could her publicity handlers miss that? If they can be cognisant of gossip and rumours about her, how come they don’t know anything about my book? I have noticed how she has appreciated junior artists composing songs for her, or ordinary folks making her sketches, so why can’t she appreciate someone standing up for her in the face of direct threats from a powerful group of people?

Muslim actors continue to get a lot of heat in new India. Maybe that explains her silence. Any small gesture from her to endorse my book, which is heavily political, is likely to invite the wrath of Modi supporters. Or maybe it is because I am not a famous writer, who does not have a  huge following, or maybe because my publisher does not have a big name.

My disillusionment apart, we did a book launch in Surrey too. Among those who came and spoke were my radio colleagues, a prominent story writer, a filmmaker and actor, besides a few journalists and Rachna.

I was deeply indebted to each and every one who showed up at the event, but Rachna’s speech shook me to the core.

She had seen how I was battling through my writings to make people aware of the ongoing high handedness of the majoritarian rule in India, and how it has affected me, with not many in Canada paying attention. For her, my celebrity crush was rather a good thing as it gave me some fresh air in these dark times. She would have been happier if I had written more about my romantic feelings towards Kareena instead of focussing on political side of things. She revealed that she was told by many of her relatives and friends that I should stop making silly music videos of Kareena and posting her pictures on Facebook as they feel ashamed, but she took that in stride and preferred me to continue with all that for my sanity. Her concern for me that day was another reminder of how deeply she loves me.

Honestly, I am heartbroken because my celebrity crush has snubbed me, but I have still won the battle by making a point of how Modi’s regime has made it difficult for Muslims and free press to work freely and how he has transformed India into a Hindu theocracy, where minorities and political dissidents are mistreated with impunity. This has greatly changed Bollywood, which was once a beacon of diversity and pluralism. If nothing much, the book has caused minor ripples within the community of her fans on twitter. They continue to talk about it, with some trying to outreach her team on my behalf. If anything gives me hope, it is the breaking of silence about the crimes against humanity going on unchecked under the garb of secularism and democracy in the country of my origin.

My date with Kareena can wait, but any effort to make the Modi government accountable cannot.

Gurpreet Singh is a journalist

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