Silly me


“Do you know who I am?” he asked. I was amused at the question.

 Was I really expected to answer that question? 

“Of course. I was there when you performed on stage last night. It was you who was singing for the most part of the concert,” I responded. That, as an answer, should have sufficed. Or so, I thought.

“Do you know who you are speaking with?” he asked again. This time, I could notice a bit of amusement on his face.

Just what did the question mean. I had spoken to him on the phone from the hotel lobby. He said I could come over and meet him after 45 minutes. After what seemed like hours of waiting – but not wasting time – I rang his door bell. He opened the door. Smiled. It was a warm welcome. He made me feel comfortable. Then I told Kumar Sanu, who was the rage of the country, how his songs from ‘Ashiqui’ were such a huge hit. Obviously, this was the way to start a conversation with the singer who I was about to interview. It would lead me straight into the topic. There was a concert the previous night at exhibition grounds in Hyderabad and I had attended it. I stood towards the end of the crowd – which was quite a distance away from the stage. It was intentional on my part to choose that place as I could see the crowd reaction too. “You would not have been able to see from the stage how the crowd went gaga,” I explained.

Just then Asha Bhonsle trooped in to the room. “I’m going out and should be back in a couple of hours,” she told him. She trotted out. In the few seconds that she was in the room, I did not think it wise to try to strike a conversation with her as she seemed to be in a hurry. In the given scenario, I thought it would even be impolite to try to exchange pleasantries as she did appear to be in a tearing hurry.  After she left, Kumar Sanu gazed at me. This time, there was a bit of discomfort in his face. If there was some anger which he was probably trying to hide, I could not see it but sense it from the tone of his voice which changed now.

“Who do you want to speak with?” he asked. To me, it appeared as if he was trying hard to be civil.

“Why, of course, Kumar Sanu!” I answered, this time with a little bit of more enthusiasm. Kumar Sanu looked at me for a second. It appeared as if he was taking pity of me. “When you go out of the room,” he began. Was he asking me to get out? Had I spoken what I should not have? Did I put him off in some manner? But hadn’t he himself kept me waiting for 45 minutes to come over for an interview that I had asked that I do with him?

Kumar Sanu’s face was plain. “When you go out of the room, take a left,” he said. He gave me a room number. “That is Kumar Sanu’s room,” he said. My heart pounded. Then who was he? In a split of a second, it became clear to me who he was. He was Sudesh Bhosale. The popular singer had performed on stage the previous night in the concert and I had heard him too. But not seen him clearly. All the while I had been assuming, thinking and taking it for granted that I was speaking with Kumar Sanu when in fact I was talking to Sudesh Bhosale.

“I’m sorry,” I said to Sudesh Bhosale, who I felt, was only too glad to see me off as I had wasted his time. Not only had I wasted his time, nothing can be more offending than talking to him and not recognising his face. I now understood the meaning of the question he repeated three times. “Do you know who I am?” he had asked. Quite clearly, I did not know who he was.

When I entered his room, I should have realised who I was face to face with. Kumar Sanu’s face is unmistakable. He has long hair. When he speaks, you can make out from his voice that it is him. Then what was I blind to?

I went to the room number that Sudesh Bhosale told me and I knocked on the door gently. I wanted to make no mistake this time. A man opened the door. I knew it was him. Kumar Sanu. “I’ve come to meet Kumar Sanu,” I said. Surely, Kumar Sanu would have been amused at what I said because here he was in front of me and I was speaking to him like I was unsure about who I was speaking to. I was being too cautious. “Yes, yes, it’s me. Come in,” he said after I introduced myself. Strictly speaking I had come without an appointment. But he did not mind at all. “Yes, we can speak,” he said as we sat down for a chat.

It was an interesting interview. A memorable one.  

But what about the bungling? How did I go to Sudesh Bhosale’s room initially when I had to meet Kumar Sanu? It was such a stupid thing to do. Quite silly, speaking to Sudesh Bhosale assuming that he was Kumar Sanu.

The mistake happened at the hotel lobby. When I asked for Kumar Sanu’s room extension number, the receptionist put me on to him. I introduced myself as a reporter and that I had come to interview him if he could give me time. Since he was woken up from sleep, he requested that I wait for 45 minutes at the lobby and come over and that would give him time to get ready.

Instead of making me speak to Kumar Sanu on the phone, the receptionist had put me on to Sudesh Bhosale. And this was the beginning of all the confusion. The receptionist had dialled the wrong number. I went to the room number the receptionist gave me and I took it for granted that I was speaking with Kumar Sanu himself. But don’t blame the receptionist. Mistakes happen.

Shouldn’t I have been more familiar with the face of the man I was supposed to interview? Silly me.

(Early 1990s)

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