Chaos in Kolkata's Kalighat as Rani arrives
It was not just another day for the locals, particularly the street urchins, scattered outside the sleepy Kalighat temple complex here. As word spread about Bollywood actress Rani Mukherji's visit, a huge mob descended from nowhere and chaos reigned.
Her career might not be in top form at the moment, but the dusky Bengali beauty - affectionately called "Bengal's daughter" by the commoners here - still has the power to draw large crowds and prove how futile the police arrangements can become when it comes to controlling star-crazy fans.
At around 5 p.m. Tuesday, the blink-and-you-miss entrance to the famed temple was surrounded by a group of policemen to usher Rani's convoy of cars and bouncers.
This caught the attention of curious onlookers, passersby and the regular beggars and street kids (mostly semi-clad) who then started collecting behind the row of policemen to catch a glimpse.
Mediapersons and cameramen who needed to get a clear shot of the celeb had a tough time finding a spot as the milling crowd pushed and shoved. Needless to say, most had their smartphones, in the video mode, held aloft.
A few of the choicest abuses were hurled as a deaf and mute kid tried to head-butt through the ring of photographers lined up behind a rope barricade.
The clock ticked by and anticipation ran high. And all of sudden a mad rush ensued when a high-end luxury car zoomed in. And then, it was a blur!
Youngsters armed with smartphones, parents with kids perched on their shoulders and shopkeepers standing on tip-toe -- there was nobody left who didn't join in. A few scattered policemen shouted out words to control the public. The rope barricade was long gone.
While most of the reporters had to brace themselves against the onslaught of the public, the shopkeepers added to the din as more and more people wanted to get a peep.
"Ami dekhbo... aapni shorun (you move away... I want a view)," screeched an elderly shopkeeper as a media person wanted a better position jostling among the throng.
"Amra Rani ke dekhechi," said a gleeful woman after her successful star-gazing.
As Rani stepped out from the vehicle and went inside the temple, the crowd dispersed, only to come back again, with what seemed in bigger numbers and a vengeance.
Those who couldn't see Rani the first time around, gathered in numbers. As earlier, smartphones went up!
This created a problem for the media as Rani's words to the clamouring reporters could be barely heard over the numerous but small verbal fights that broke out.
Some had to drag a couple of unrelenting youngsters by their school bags out of the media-zone!
This was a day when the public seemed to have become the paparazzi.
Indeed, a weary policeman on the spot told IANS: "Nowadays, every body is the media. All they need is a smartphone."
An entertainment reporter admitted: "I have never felt so scared... for a moment I thought there would be a stampede and I would be caught in that."
(Posted on 19-08-2014)