This Article is From Apr 20, 2018

Hollywood Is Always Punctual. Bollywood Runs On Indian Stretchable Time

Over the years, I have interviewed Bollywood and Hollywood stars, the biggest and the busiest actors from each. The one thing that's a given at most Bollywood events is that the talent just do not make it on time. Whether they can't or won't - they just don't. A handful of actors like Amitabh Bachchan do come on time for every event, but I can count professionals like him on my fingers. And on the other hand, each time I travel to interview Hollywood actors, these A-listers with fan followings across the globe and with tons of commitments reach the venue bang on time. I can't think of even one instance when a Hollywood star made me wait. If Hollywood can be punctual, why must Bollywood run on Indian Stretchable Time?

I just got back from the Avengers: Infinity War media junket in Singapore. Interviews were lined up with actors Benedict Cumberbatch, Karen Gillan, director Joe Russo and co-producer Trinh Tran. The roll time for the interview was 10 am, I was asked to be seated outside the interview room at 9:50 am. After a couple of minutes, I looked at my watch, it was 9:57. Finally, a Hollywood interview that wouldn't start on time? At 9:59, on the dot, the door of the lift at the end of the corridor opened and Benedict and Karen walked towards their interview rooms with one guard and one manager. I was inside the room in the next 30 seconds, and the cameras rolled at dot 10. Can't not be impressed with how seriously they stick to their commitment and follow the show flow.

When I interviewed Mark Hamill in Japan in December for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the first question he asked me was, "Hope you didn't have to wait long to see me?" And I didn't have to wait at all.

Maybe the delays in B-Town have got to do a lot with people around the stars like organizers and event managers. But I guess if the celebrity says he/she would like to be on time, I am sure the organizers wouldn't mind making that happen.

There was a time when Aamir Khan would turn up everywhere on time; he liked it that way. Once, I was traveling with him from Delhi to Mumbai and his staff didn't inform him that I had arrived in the lobby - we were to leave together for the airport. He was mighty upset with his staff, he asked them why he hadn't been told I was waiting and then he told them that he would discuss this in detail once they got home. But even Aamir changed over the years. I don't doubt that he still wants to be on time and do the job, but maybe they pack too much into one day. If one meeting starts or ends late, then their entire schedule goes for a toss.

Any film journalist will tell you, waiting for one hour is considered absolutely normal in Bolly-land. If Shah Rukh Khan turns up in an hour after the scheduled time, that is considered early. If it's an event where SRK is making an appearance, the only question journos ask the publicists is, "Has SRK left home?" A few months ago a journalist asked SRK about being late. In this video, SRK explains why he is late.

Watch SRK's explanation about being late for events.

He explains, "Every time I am late it's because I have been told by the organizer to come late and people think I am late because I like to come late." He even promised that he would get everywhere on time in future - "but the world doesn't run on time!" Many times, the organizer of the event will want the media to be seated an hour before the star arrives - I fail to understand why.

In Hollywood, not just interviews, even red carpet events with thousands of fans go as per schedule. If the premiere is at 7 pm, we (media) are taken to the venue by 5:45 pm. and directed to our allocated spots without any delay. We are then allowed to shoot our links on the red carpet and speak to fans. And as per the plan, the talent will start coming one by one at 7 pm. The event will end at 8 pm, and we will be back in your hotel room latest by 8:30 pm. If Bollywood stars would stick to their schedule and not make us wait endlessly, we could pack in so much more in a day.

It's not that Bollywood stars make only the media wait, I have heard horror stories of them making even filmmakers wait. Isn't it funny that the production crew is on time, the dancers are always waiting in their costumes, the entire set crew is ready, but the lead star is always stuck in traffic? I spoke to some filmmakers and heard some shocking stories of stars coming late; I'm saving those for another blog.

(Rohit Khilnani is a senior entertainment journalist based in Mumbai, he is also the author of the book I Hate Bollywood. Information about box-office collections and whereabouts of films stars is at the back of his hand. He starts and ends his day by taking his dog, for walks)

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