Shahrukh mania grips the city

By Gitanjali Singh - Pictures from the Shahrukh Khan and Juhi Chawla show

Articles taken from Stabroek News and The Guyana Chronicle - Posted August 9th.1999

Shahrukh Khan touched down at the Timehri airport at minutes to 6.00 am yesterday, and may have never expected the reception he got; scores of fans falling over each other and screaming at the sight of him.

Thousands braved the dark and threatening weather to await the superstar at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri yesterday and many of them were shoved by security guards to clear the way for Khan and troupe. But that did not stop them.

Bearing posters of Khan and co-star Juhi Chawla, fans waited for hours at Timehri for a glimpse of the man who made his name with his role as a villain in Darr and climbed to the top with Baazigar - a position he has maintained to this day.

And a tired, obviously jet-lagged Khan did not disappoint them. He faithfully waved to his fans and blew them kisses and even from the roof of the Le Meridien Pegasus where he was booked for his one-day stay in Guyana, showed his appreciation.

For the throngs of supporters waiting for him in the pouring rain and from whom he was quickly escorted away on arrival, Khan made his way to the top of the hotel and from under an umbrella waved and blew kisses. He signalled to the crowd that he was tired and wanted to rest but every body motion of the man caused a wild eruption from his mostly young and female fans.

The one thing that couldn't be missed about the superstar is his humility. Stardom has not gotten to his head. Speaking for a quick minute with reporters, Khan said he is an ordinary person and does not know how to describe his off-screen persona.

"I am okay. I am alright, I guess. I am also very ordinary, like yourself," Khan said to Stabroek News.
He said that his achievements, while they may seem extraordinary in the short nine years he has spent in the film industry, are really because of everyone around him who has showed him such great affection.

Khan and Chawla, accompanied by playback singer, Sapna Mukerjie and pop singer Shweeta Shetty as well as by music director, Anu Malik and troupe arrived in Guyana yesterday after two performances in Trinidad and Tobago.

Their last performance concluded at 1.15 am yesterday morning and the check-in time for the artistes to fly to Guyana was 2.30 am. They touched down here around 5.45 am.

Khan and troupe were accorded VIP treatment with three government ministers waiting for them at the airport; Home Affairs Minister Ronald Gajraj, Education Minister, Dale Bisnauth and Agriculture Minister, Reepu Daman Persaud. Chawla and Khan were garlanded and taken to the executive lounge.

But they were not allowed to relax or even offered a drink before the media besieged them for about five minutes, during which time a small crowd invaded the lounge, cutting short the briefing. Khan and Chawla were then hustled away to the VIP lounge and selected media persons were allowed up.
Embarrassing, however, was the behaviour of two persons associated with the promotion of the show, one of whom showed no regard for the media and the other who openly shouted at a board member of a state media house.

The media was also denied an opportunity to sit and talk to Khan and Chawla.

The overseas promoters, Narinder and Ravinder Saini, were exemplary in their conduct at all times and Pradeep Samtani, not financially linked to the show, tried his best to be helpful.

The motorcade bringing Khan and Chawla to the city got underway well after 7.00 am and groups stood at different points along the route waiting for a sight of Khan.

But the rain which broke in the city did not deter fans from waiting on Khan at the hotel. Ticket sales reportedly went up dramatically afterwards.

It was just a brief and momentary spell of madness which hit Guyana and can best be referred to as the Shahrukh mania.


Arrival: Indian mega star, Shahrukh Khan (third from left) and actress Juhi Chawla
(left) along with organiser of the show, Ali Morani (fourth from left), making their
way from the aircraft at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport,
Timehri yesterday. (Ken Moore photo)

Welcome! Agriculture Minister, Reepu Daman Persaud with Shahrukh Khan
in the VIP lounge at the airport yesterday. (Ken Moore photo)

Return trip: Sapna Mukerjie, Indian playback singer, waiting for the keys to her
room at the Le Meridien Pegasus yesterday. This is her second trip to Guyana, her first being
with Amitabh Bachan a few years ago. (Ken Moore photo)

Excited over Shahrukh: Police attempting to keep fans at bay outside the lobby of
Le Meridien Pegasus Hotel yesterday as they waited to see Shahrukh Khan and Juhi Chawla
as their vehicle turned into the driveway. (Ken Moore photo)

Patiently waiting: A section of the crowd at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri,
yesterday waiting to catch a glimpse of superstar, Shahrukh Khan who was billed to perform in Guyana
last night with Juhi Chawla and troupe. (Ken Moore photo)

Shabby treatment for press at Shahrukh arrival

LOCAL media personnel covering the arrival of Indian film star Shahrukh Khan and troupe were shabbily treated by organisers and did not get a chance to interview them.

There was indeed a "red carpet" welcome for the group at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri, but many media personnel were astonished at the way they were treated.

Shahrukh Khan and party touched down at 05:45 hrs and they were quickly ushered into the Executive Lounge at the airport.

Members of the business community and diplomatic corps and Agriculture Minister, Mr. Reepu Daman Persaud, Home Affairs Minister, Mr. Ronald Gajraj and Education Minister, Dr. Dale Bisnauth, were among those who greeted the Indian celebrities.

A handful of newspaper and television reporters waited in the Executive Lounge, where a press conference had been scheduled.

However, the small room soon became clustered as scores of persons rushed in, taking photos with the two lead performers amid the 10-minute press briefing.

The briefing actually lasted six minutes and barely allowed reporters to quiz Shahrukh and Juhi Chawla.

Questions from the press were rudely cut off by local promoters.

Shahrukh, with cigarette in hand, was in a long sleeve brown shirt and grey slacks, and gave quick answers to each question.

He seemed inclined to accommodate the press but he and Chawla were prevented by promoters from speaking further with the media.

With cameras flashing and a crowd, apart from the press, forcing themselves on to the two, local security whisked both Bollywood stars from the Executive Lounge to the VIP lounge in the airport.

The media, naturally, followed but were barred from meeting the visiting artistes.

Some were pushed over by the mob in the Executive Lounge, shouted at by security and told by promoters that "no one was allowed" in the upper lounge.

Only the NTN television station crew was allowed to film the entertainers, as other news crews were given the cold shoulder.

Those responsible for last night's concert at the National Park in Georgetown were local overseas-based promoter, Mr. Narvin Jaigobin and franchise promoter (Asian Entertainment), Mr. Narinder Saini and Mr. Ravinder Saini.

The main organiser known only as `Morani' is out of India.

Personnel from the print and television media waited almost two hours in the lobby, where other Shahrukh fans stood patiently to greet the actor.

By 07:20 hrs the press mingled with hundreds of anxious Shahrukh Khan fans on the airport tarmac, and saw the actor being rushed into a vehicle for the motorcade to Le Meridien Pegasus Hotel in Georgetown.

More fans were waiting at the hotel's front entrance and screamed in excitement when Shahrukh Khan waved at them from the roof.

When the full complement of media people arrived at the hotel, there was yet more frustration over whether the promoters of the show would fulfil their promise of hosting a press conference there.

There was no press conference.

Media people left the hotel bitter over the unprofessional way they were treated at the superstar's arrival. (SHARON LALL)

Thousands welcome Shahrukh Khan
by Linda Rutherford

THEY lined the streets, braved the rains, withstood the ire of the Police and laid siege to Le Meridien Pegasus where he is booked to stay, just to get a glimpse of him and accord him a rousing welcome, in true Guyanese fashion.

But this was not to be for the thousands of local fans of Bollywood screen idol, Shahrukh Khan. The fans turned up early yesterday morning at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport to witness his arrival. The plane touched down at precisely 05:47 hours.

Khan and his entire entourage were bustled into waiting vehicles - tinted windows tightly closed - and whisked away, without being allowed to accord their fans the merest of acknowledgements. Even the sporty red convertible laid on by Choyling Pertab of Alicia's Boutique to transport Khan to the city in style was shunned in favour of a more sedate vehicle.

Many were the bouquets yet `unpresented' and words of appreciation left unsaid. "Welcome Sharukh Khan; we love you. Could we have a picture with you guys", read a lone placard. All some wanted was to take personal photographs or to ask for an autograph.

Children were even heard rehearsing what they would say to him, if ever they got the chance of meeting him. Some cried openly from anxiety or plain emotion at being disappointed.

One man was heard to say, "All yuh call we heah pon de TV; how yuh guh do we duh", upon learning that plans were afoot to spirit Khan away through a little-used side gate.

It was chaos on the airport tarmac, just outside the Executive and VIP lounge. People came from Industry, Cane Grove, Wales and as far afield as Morashi, New Amsterdam, and Albion. Some say they were encamped at the airport from as early as 21:00 hours the night before.

At first they formed a crude semicircle behind the few barricades there were. But as the morning progressed, with no sign of Khan, they soon became restless.

Chanting, singing and loud heckling at times rent the air, and despite several warnings, Police had a hard time keeping the crowd in check. At times, the press of people even threatened the free movement of vehicles in and out of the area.

A member of the troupe travelling with Khan was heard telling another "Unbelievable, eh!" at the sight of the crowd as he emerged from the seclusion of the Executive and VIP Lounge. Chants of "We want Shahrukh" broke out at 06:55 hours.

Khan finally emerged at 07:15 hours to screams of elation and a final surge. The motorcade took off with the loud tooting of car and minibus horns, and with a stream of people on foot, with the Police in hot pursuit. The crowd of people ran behind the vehicles as far as they could before giving up.

The scene at Le Meridien Pegasus was a repeat performance of what transpired at the airport. When the Chronicle team arrived at 08:22 hours, there were pockets of people `every which way', but with a concentration of bodies at the entrance to the foyer. This crowd was contained by the Police. And even when the rains came at around 08:40 hours, they stood their ground, transforming Le Meridien Pegasus driveway into a sea of umbrellas.

Commissioner of Police Mr Laurie Lewis and his deputy, Assistant Commissioner Mr Henry Greene were themselves on hand, in civvies, to assist in crowd control. They did a good job of it, too.

At intervals, shouts of "We want Shahrukh", or "We want back we money" would disrupt the staid atmosphere of Guyana's four-star hotel.

Pressed into giving a comment, Le Meridien Pegasus General Manager Mr Jean Guillaumot, said: "I am just pleased that Guyana is able to welcome Shahrukh Khan, and we at Le Meridien Pegasus are also pleased to welcome him".

Observing that he has seen the likes of it in other countries, Guillaumot, who recently took over the reins of the hotel, said such an occurrence is normal when a celebrity comes to town.

"The sight of an idol will make their day, week, month or year, and I can understand that", Guillaumot said.

Karim Morani, director of stage performance with the touring troupe said, "I never expected this kind of response from Guyana. I feel that Shahrukh is like a God to them, the way they have come out in such large numbers and given him such a warm welcome."

Observing that the welcome they got in Trinidad and Tobago was not as warm, Morani said, "You need to be lucky to have such a response".

Unable to bear the cacophony much longer, a tired Shahrukh, who had retired to his room, gamely appeared on the balcony around 09:25 hours to appease his fans.

He blew them kisses, and asked them to go home out of the rain, which had by then developed into a deluge. He told them, amidst screams of delight, that he was tired and was going in to sleep.

This seemed to do the trick, as thereafter, the crowd was seen to slowly disperse.