From time to time I go through phases of obsession with certain personalities. Mostly these are celebrities from Bollywood (I actually have begun to hate that word, and prefer to call it the Hindi Film Industry) or popular public figures. Sachin Tendulkar, Lata Mangeshkar, Adele, Kishori Amonkar, Barack Obama, Ranveer Singh… not necessarily in that order of chronology or amount of obsession.
As a child I was mostly obsessed with Shahrukh Khan. Looking back I gather it was mainly triggered by my mom’s approval for Shahrukh’s “innocent eyes” in one of his very earlier movies Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman. I now understand where my search for those “innocent eyes” in every man comes from. I measure character from the eyes, and I personally think I look for innocence and sincerity in all eyes.
Actor Shahrukh Khan in a still from Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman
I am not sure If I have that innocence in my own eyes. I may have had it and lost it. It may have been replaced by cynicism and doubt, who knows. But those early impressions that our parents’ likes and dislikes have on us shape our psyche and subconscious behavioral patterns to a great extent. I only understand this now. No matter how much you might be distant from your parents or say that you are not like them, there is always some of your parents and grandparents in you.
As you grow older, though, the human qualities that trigger that sense of awe in you changes. My mind has to get turned on before my body or hormones can be. I often surprise myself when I like someone I never thought I would. And then I find myself obsessively watching that personality’s youtube videos, going through instagram feeds and just finding ways to get to know them more. Something about them strikes a chord. Shahrukh was my heartthrob 20 years ago. In many ways he still is, but of late I have had a growing obsession for men like director Imtiaz Ali.
Men with an artistic bent of mind who are willing to go off the beaten path. Men who are a part of the society yet are wanderers in their soul. They are searching for answers to questions that keep unfolding as their journey unfolds. I find myself liking men who like to approach things with a certain depth. Depth of mind, character and soul. They are not satisfied with the superficial success that comes with the comfortable status quo. They know exactly what they want, what they are good at, and are unapologetic about their flaws. They do what their passion tells them to, and they want to do it their way even if it means being called crazy, or by the more creative lot, “sufi”.
In a still from the making of the film Highway, with actress Aalia Bhatt
These men are clairvoyant about people and their energies. They don’t have time for society parties and gossip. They are not on the surface. They are observers, not doers. They are narraters and story-tellers, not talkers. They have a great taste in music, and appreciate the silences. They have a hunger to understand complex emotions and the human psyche. They may be social misfits, but always creative geniuses. Imtiaz Ali is all this, with oodles of charm. In many ways, he seems like he is seeking what I am seeking, and he makes sense to me. He turns me on.