Shahrukh Letterman Taping Report, FULL FINAL VERSION! READ FOR LATEST UPDATE!!! (No Spoilers)

Because Shahrukh’s newest longform interview was in America, and tickets were open to the public, there were a few DCIBers who were actually able to attend! I asked them for their stories of what it was like, without any details of the actual interview (because I want to be surprised and I am selfish that way). Oh, and no SPOILERS in the comments please either, even rumors. I’ll delete them if I see them, so other people like me who want to go in fresh can stay uncontaminated.

Eileen Rodriguez, Susan B. Rogers, Louise Rader
Eileen and I are SRK fans. Louise has just recently started watching Indian Cinema films.
I left my house mid-morning and drove 2 hours to Eileen’s home on the other end of the state. We left there and drove into The City about 2-1.5 hours. Found a parking garage directly across the street from the Gerald W. Lynch Theater at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Other fans found my car’s vanity plates interesting.

The wait outside was a really long one. There were two lines one for the general public, Then an area for those of us who had tickets from Letterman’s staff. We began to talk to the people around us. Many of whom thought we came because we were Letterman’s fans. HAHA.  It seemed that people were quite genial with each other. 


So I showed them my photos of my meeting with SRK on his 50th birthday. They had the look all South Asians get when I show them – HOW DID THIS OLD WHITE WOMAN GET A MEETING WITH SRK? Later on two women ask me straight out that question. 
I explained that I had been a SRKCHENNAIFC member for a long time and I was their 50th birthday present to SRK. And now this was my birthday present to myself for my 75th birthday.

They asked how I has seen so many Indian Cinema films. Told them via NETFLIX, AMAZON PRIME and EINTHUSAN. Every Indian I spoke to was so friendly and gracious. I think this old lady set off the elder-respect internal button. 

The wait inside was to be short but they moved the time back so we waited a lot longer. Or so it seems to three old ladies. Initially they said the doors would open at 3:30pm then doors would close at 4:00pm and not open again until the show was over. BUT, the time was moved back to doors open at 4:30. Many were having foot and knee pain from standing on marble floors for so long; especially the younger women in high heels. 

Most of the attendees were dressed in what I think of as “business attire”, nice slacks or skirts and blouse/sweaters, dresses for women. Most of the men were dressed in suits, slack & jackets. There was the occasional disrespectful fool who came in shorts and backwards baseball caps or jeans.

There were only the three of us and two men who had white/grey hair.  Most were a lot younger, probably late 20s, early 30s, with a sprinkling of 40s and 50s. 

I was disappointed that I did not seen any saris. I had hoped to see some gorgeous silk and chiffon ones.  But the Letterman staff had emphasized wearing dark colors. To me, that was such a mistake bc if they came in sari’s, it could have been a beautiful rainbow of colors, like the masala movies.  

In the audience, there were several Sikh couples. The men’s turbans color coordinated to their suits or jackets. There was a variety of areas in India represented in the audience bc as SRK mentioned a city name, some would cheer. For example, if I said “Chicago” you would hoot and holler.  

When Mr. Letterman, welcomed SRK; I was not really surprised at the loud welcome he receive. Not one of us stayed in our seats as they told us to do. I jumped up with everyone. It was a long time standing ovation. I think it surprised Mr. Letterman with its intensity. 

SRK was his usual urbane, suave self. He was dressed in a black suit, open-necked white shirt with a waistcoat, and black shoes. Looking just as handsomely sartorial as he usually does. They began an easy going conversation, ranging over a variety of topics. SRK bantered back and forth with Mr. Letterman, parrying his comments skillfully. SRK was ever the articulate professional – actor, producer, entertainer. He could be a great talk show host or teacher. I have often said if he starts teaching I want to take the class, I don’t care if it’s acting or economics or mass communication. I would never miss a class and I’d sit in the front row!

The time went by so quickly. I could have stayed for another few hours listening to him. It was a disappointment to know it was over. 

There was not the usual meet and greet for the VIP guests of Mr. Letterman’s staff. I was surprised because at SRK’s events, he always has one. I mean he always talks about how much meeting his fans means to him. Quite a disappointment. One man told me he thought it was due to Mr. Letterman’s security team’s decision. That Mr. Letterman had been stalked for years and there were threats to kidnap his son. So this guy assumed Mr. Letterman’s security team just squashed the idea of a meet and greet. We were greatly disappointed. 

UPDATE: Report from Molly!

As with the other times we have been in the presence of other true fans, meeting those fans has been a big part of the joy of it. We got their super early even though we had been told there would be assigned seats. When the show was first announced Carol and I (and my husband) were on our way to a funeral in Baltimore. I have to admit I spent most of the ride each way trying to figure out how to get tickets. I put our an all points bulletin on Facebook to see if anyone had any connections. At the same time, I remember that I had a student from one of my first classes who works on a major talk show filmed in California. I texted her and she got back to me immediately and said she’d see what she could do. Another student said she was having dinner with someone who worked on Letterman and she try too. (see teaching is a VERY rewarding profession; once they’re yours their yours forever. ) In the end we got them via Hollywood and they were VIP special, special. So we got to wait on a very separate line. But before that we chatted with a wonderful crew of stalwart fans one of whom is the admin for srkuniverse Canada who was so nice and so much fun to talk to. We walked in and couldn’t believe our eyes. We were 15 feet away from the chair he’d be sitting in.

Letterman came out first and did sort of an audience warm up. It was cute and sweet and a bit rambling. He did however do us the honor of NOT introducing his guest who needs no introduction which was refreshing. Then the room became electric as people saw Shah Rukh coming out of the shadows in the wings. The crowd went berserk: standing, clapping, yelling and screaming (us too of course!) Letterman must have been prepared for this, but no one is really prepared for it.

I know (mostly from seeing his Mme. Tussaud’s statue ) that Shah Rukh is small and Dave Letterman is very tall. But now I understand what they mean when they say he has an aura. He is a gigantic presence. Their conversation was warm, personal and ranged all over the place. I’m not sure that Letterman was prepared for such long, complex answers from Shah Rukh because they ended up skipping around. The actual love and respect they showed each other made it a very easy going conversation, I have seen virtually every conversation Shah Rukh has had in interviews that are available and this was the best done by a non-Indian journalist or interviewer and maybe one of the best over all.

Image result for shahrukh letterman

It was clear that one of the key questions Dave wanted to answer for himself [although he didn’t ask it directly] was: “What IS this adulation, this phenomenon of Shah Rukh Khan fans about? Why does he garner so much love?”  As I was sitting there, I kept thinking “I don’t want this to end..”

They spoke for 2 full hours without a break but I have to admit I am greedy for more. To be in his presence is the strangest feeling. He is someone you know so well but have never met. He was warm and witty and shy and smart and kind and everything you would hope he would be. And he looked gorgeous. The camera loves him (he is a movie star after all) but I have to tell you, he looked even better than at least the stills showed.

UPDATE 2: Another report, from my final DCIBer Carol, we went with Molly

I will say that we made a pact not to tell anyone about it until we had absolute confirmation of the tickets. Molly was practically superstitious on the topic.

After various communications with the person in charge of  distributing our tickets, who assured us that she herself was assigning seats and we need not arrive any earlier than the window of time we’d been told, we decided we get there an hour and a half ahead of that time. Partly to be sure we’d find our way to the tickets, although we knew the location as we each live between 20-25 blocks uptown from the John Jay College and this theater. But also to get a sense of the people waiting outside.

To our mild surprise, the crowd was well behaved and orderly. We didn’t see a whole bunch of people hanging around who didn’t have tickets looking to catch a glimpse of Shah Rukh. The wait was long. Because of delays inside, they started letting people in later than expected. Once through security–which was pretty serious and handled by NYPD–we had to put our phones in a lock bag and pick up our tickets before waiting again, for quite some time. We did have some fun while waiting. A group of 4 women–a young woman, her mom and two of her young friends–had posted on Twitter that they were driving from Toronto and we met them. Turned out the woman who had posted is the admin for SRK Universe in Canada, and we swapped stories about mutual friends we’d met in Mumbai on our last trip. Later we spent time talking to some others, all adults with children, and shared our connection to Shah Rukh. Most of these were first generation Americans who said they grew up with Shah Rukh, or their parents were fans and so they were, too. The crowd in general was mixed in age but there were more young people–20’s-30’s I think–than older people.

Side note: Molly and I were 2 of a handful–literally–of people there who were not South Asian. It was an overwhelmingly desi crowd.

The materials sent to us had a description of the dress code, which was actually pretty funny:

DRESS CODE:

Our dress code is UPSCALE BUSINESS ATTIRE as if you are going to a nice dinner! Failure to dress

appropriately will cause you to be turned away so please let your guest know about the dress code.

•†Women: Please wear a cocktail dress, skirt or slacks. Think classy, and DARK colors. NO GOWNS

•†Men: Please wear a blazer or button-down shirt. Think classy and sharp! No Tuxes.

•†General Don’ts: NO t-shirts, solid white clothing, baseball hats, or large logos. No formal gowns or Tuxes.

Gowns? Tuxes? Who would even think that?? My impression is that this is aimed at 20-somethings who don’t work in business and might not have actual business attire. I wore black pants and a black jacket (I live in New York. Everyone wears black. All the time.) But I paired them with a jade green silk top for a little color but definitely not bright. I took a clutch since no big bags were allowed.

The usher led us to our seats and we could not believe it–we were sitting in the front row, on the right side as you face the stage, with a direct line view of the seat Shah Rukh would sit in. We were something like 15 feet away!

As he had in season one of the show, Dave came out first and chatted with the audience, in a modified version of his late night monologue. Then he introduced Shah Rukh and the crowd went crazy. We stood and cheered for almost 10 minutes. It was one of the most thrilling moments of my life. Dave and Shah Rukh kind of let the crowd go before trying to calm us down eventually.

As I’m sure you’ve seen from the photos released by Netflix, Shah Rukh looked great. Not only was he dressed to perfection, but his demeanor was just perfect: quietly self-assured, charming but also thoughtful. And Dave and his team did their homework. They researched a lot. I won’t say here but once it’s released we can talk more about that.

What I can say is that Dave did a great interview. There are few interviews I’ve seen Shah Rukh do with Indian journalists that compare. I’d say the Think interview in 2012 with Shoma Chaudhury or several he’s done with Barkha Dutt were similar in that the interviewer saw Shah Rukh as an actor and an intelligent thinker, not just a superstar. They weren’t fawning but respectful, and interested in his answers. Dave was similar in his approach, asking good questions, responding to the answers and sometimes asking follow up questions. It was at times more like a conversation than an interview.

The spoke for two solid hours. There were a few interruptions for applause or other audience reactions but it was pretty much two hours of delightful conversation. Later, after it was over, I wondered what they could possibly cut to fit the format of Dave’s show. All the season 1 episodes were under an hour, with bits that had been filmed beforehand interspersed. (We know the show sent a team to India to do prep for this since once of our contacts was a Letterman producer who told us she was unable to go on that trip.) Later, Indian press said this would be a stand-alone interview but I don’t think there’s any confirmation of that yet. In any case, there wasn’t anything in their conversation that I thought needed to be cut so we will have to wait and see how it turns out.

When it was over and Molly and I met up with another fan we knew who was there, we almost couldn’t speak. I couldn’t articulate how I was feeling or describe what I’d just seen. While I’d slept well the night before, on Thursday night I tossed and turned. I couldn’t believe it had really happened. I still can’t quite believe it and will have to wait to see it on Netflix to know it was actually real.

We hung around hoping to catch a glimpse of Shah Rukh leaving but we learned from security that he’d left from the other side of the building and was gone by the time we exited. Although I would have loved to see him and maybe touch him or get a hug, I really feel I couldn’t have asked for a better experience than the one I had. Those “meet and greets” or heading through a crowd to his car last a couple of moments. I was lucky enough to sit in a room with Shah Rukh Khan and listen to him talk for 2 hours. 

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37 thoughts on “Shahrukh Letterman Taping Report, FULL FINAL VERSION! READ FOR LATEST UPDATE!!! (No Spoilers)

  1. Such a heart-warming recollection of the experience! I can actually picture the event and the people.. so it’s evident that it is written right from the heart.

    Also, THIS!!!

    “SRK was his usual urbane, suave self. He was dressed in a black suit, open-necked white shirt with a waistcoat, and black shoes. Looking just as handsomely sartorial as he usually does. They began an easy going conversation, ranging over a variety of topics. SRK bantered back and forth with Mr. Letterman, parrying his comments skillfully. SRK was ever the articulate professional – actor, producer, entertainer. He could be a great talk show host or teacher. I have often said if he starts teaching I want to take the class, I don’t care if it’s acting or economics or mass communication. I would never miss a class and I’d sit in the front row!”

    If SRK starts teaching.. I would be on my best student behavior too! Front row, awe-spired and all things like 15 minutes early.. always doing reading assignments! Hahah!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It makes me feel like I was there, at least a little bit! I can picture the feeling and the excitement and all the rest of it.

      On Sat, May 18, 2019 at 12:06 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

      >

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks a lot, Susan, for giving a framing picture…Yeah to the gang of the vintage teenagers 🙂

    ShahRukh left the building at the behind…so all the fans standing there had the luck to interact with him. I think that David’s previous guests didn’t do a meet & greet either.

    I had the luck to read some comments who told a bit aubout what topics had been discussed…quite interesting and giving an insight in ShahRukh’s life.

    Would really welcome other reports (okay without spoilers) who would tell something about the way Letterman talked & reacted to ShahRukh.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sigh. Thank you for sharing! I’ve been stalking the 3 initials srk on Twitter since Thursday afternoon, and it’s been wonderful to see people’s happiness at being part of this. Still sad I didn’t get off the waitlist at 1iota.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Me too, Procras. But at least we tried and the anticipation that I might win a ticket and actually get within a few feet of SRK was fun.

    As a teen, I suffered thru the usual star crushes, but they came and went. You could never call me a groupie. But now, as an “old lady” (thank you Susan, Eileen and Louise) I’ve got the poster, the calendar, the tee shirt, the bumper sticker. His fans understand that SRK is super sexy, talented, intelligent, charismatic. But so are a lot of others. When friends and family shake their heads at my obsession with Indian cinema and its primary icon, I can’t explain it.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Is it just me that can’t see any of the pictures?

    Thanks for the write-up. Glad you guys had fun! How was SRK’s temperament? Was he relaxed or nervous? I’m wondering how Letterman reacted to him too. Most interviewers are able to develop a good rapport with him quickly but there are some outliers so I was wondering about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You ‘rightly’ put this special event to the top 😉 (thanks, Margaret 🙂 )

    After my thanks to Susan, my thanks to you, Molly. It is easy for me to relate to your feelings (which may beyond words) as my experiences with ShahRukh have similar aspects…and also with his fans.
    As I’ve met – during the years – many fans of various background, it didn’t take long to become a fan of ShahRuk’s fans. I’m really grateful for every impression I get from a ‘first-hand’ narrator.

    I repeat that I would like to know what your feelings were about David Letterman’s reaction to the person ShahRukh was during the interview. Do you think he adapted to the fact that ShahRukh is involved in Netlix…was it the Letterman you would have expected? I know, that he addressed some controversial topics but I got the feeling that he was rather lovely & nice & – maybe – under the influence of ShahRukh’s lovable aura.

    Yeah, there is something in him that can make him radiate his energy and intense presence, and then there is this person who is just like the nice guy or kind man who could be part of your daily life like a neighbour or a teacher or the grocery man…

    Liked by 2 people

    • SRK’s presence that you talk about – I’ve heard it being described as “the most charismatic member of your family.” He’s warm and familiar (not a distant detached star like say Aishwarya Rai) but he’s not the average schmo either.

      Liked by 2 people

    • I’ll try to give you my impressions of Dave’s reaction to Shah Rukh and vice versa. As I said in my own contribution to this post, Dave and his staff clearly did deep research. They had to have a sense of what Dave was walking into. Having said that, I think even he was surprised at the intensity of the reaction to Shah Rukh’s entry.

      I had been concerned about how this interview would go when I anticipated it. I’ve watched Letterman since the ’80’s and I know he can be difficult sometimes–he can be prickly, caustic, cynical and even a little mean. He isn’t bothered by awkward answers or awkward silences. He milks them and uses them. I was thinking of Dave and Shah Rukh as sort of like oil and water–they just wouldn’t mix.

      But it turned out I was dead wrong. Thank God for that! Having seen most of season 1, and thinking about it afterwards, I realized that Dave is still Dave, but a long form interview is a very different thing from a short segment on a late night talk show. And it was in Dave’s interest to help all these interviews go well.

      So with the recognition that Dave adapted to this different format, I’d say he was the interviewer I expected. His humor was the same, his interest in his guest was the same. I think he was charmed by Shah Rukh–how could he not be??–but not overwhelmed by him. It felt like a conversation between equals in many ways.

      Shah Rukh said in the interview and in was quoted in the press as saying that he’s watched Dave’s late night shows for many years and has enjoyed watching him and has enormous respect for him. It showed.

      You ask about the Netflix connection, and I’ve been thinking about that too. Season 1 of “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction” went well as far as I can tell. But you can’t ignore the fact that Netflix is doing its best to move into the Indian market in a big way, and part of that is promoting Shah Rukh and their connection to him. I don’t know who’s idea this interview was but there can be no doubt that it was a win-win-win all around: for Letterman, Shah Rukh and Netflix. Building all three brands for sure.

      Liked by 2 people

      • This is good to know. There was an interview once that made me despise Letterman. There was a TV actor (Noah Wyle) on his show and he is friends with George Clooney since they were both on ER together. For the entire 10-15 minute interview, Dave just kept asking him about his movie star friend George. It was so rude and mean-spirited that I was appalled. It would have been understandable if he was arrogant but the guy was humble and sweet so it was not even like that treatment was somehow deserved.

        I was sort of dreading what Letterman would do in SRK’s interview though I know SRK is the type that can handle anyone. He knows how to shift his answers and behavior based on how the other person is acting. But still glad to know that SRK didn’t have to play chess with him and could relax.

        Liked by 2 people

  7. Also (and Margaret maybe this belongs in the why is Shah Rukh Khan sexy post) I must say that he really is the sexiest man alive. I know I’m biased as a super fan, but I’ve always felt it wasn’t all about his appearance. His intelligence, his humor, whatever it is just makes him so attractive. Not only his looks–and he looked so very good that night–but his charisma, his magnetism just pulls you right in. Uffffff!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. As homework, I watched the earlier interviews with George Clooney and JayZ and Letterman was the same with them in that he was not caustic or unpleasant ever and he had done a great deal of research for them also. It think the difference is the intelligence. It really was as conversation between equals and you felt that. It also felt like two people actually interested in getting to know each other. Shah Rukh asked Letterman some interesting questions as well. I hope we can do another post once this is broadcast because I’d love to comment on some of the questions and answers.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. In my opinion, Mr. Letterman was respectful, courteous and deferential to SRK in the interview, as was SRK towards Mr. Letterman. A mutual respect. I had no preconceived notions as to how Mr. Letterman would be as in the first season he reacted to each interviewee appropriately. The two of them held their own in the course of the interview, no real moments of strain. There was a give and take on an equal basis and mutual respect. I just missed the opportunity to get a hug from SRK. As I believe that he is the very best hugger. SRK can give gentle hugs as well as bone crushing ones. Perhaps next time.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I don’t think SRK’s episode is going to air on May 31st like the others. According to this and whatever else I could find, 5 episodes will release on that date. It seems like SRK’s episode is a special that will release later (date yet to be announced) and that makes it likely that it will be 2 hours long unlike the others.

    https://www.thedailybeast.com/kanye-west-fires-back-at-david-letterman-liberals-bully-trump-supporters-like-me

    Like

    • Well, that gives me my Thursday night back (I was all set to stay up until midnight and wait for it to drop), but also SHOOT!

      Like

      • I’m upset. Technically, they can wait another few months to air it if they so choose! Kanye’s episode was filmed in January and releasing at the end of May.

        There is no date in sight. All I can find is “coming soon” for the SRK episode.

        Like

  11. The only possible explanation I can come up with is that maybe they want to release it around the time Bard of Blood releases. Maybe to help give the series a boost?

    For those that attended the taping, did he mention anything that can be an advertisement for the show? If not, then it can’t be that.

    Like

    • Maybe they just want longer for the PR? there’s been hardly anything, either from SRK’s team or Netflix. Just a little bit of a lag between filming, editing, final cut, and release would allow them to build excitement.

      Like

    • Without revealing information I shouldn’t regarding content of their conversation, I will say that there wasn’t anything that resembled promotions for anything SRK is doing with Netflix.

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      • Maybe it is simply that the idea of the interview came up late in the planning process and they couldn’t squeeze in filming and post-production with the other episodes so decided to make it it’s own thing, rather than give up on the idea all together or wait until the next season.

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        • If one has an interesting talk with ShahRukh, times just flies… 🙂
          Did they even planned a 2 hours interview? I doubt.
          Ha! Now they are left with two hours of good stuff… what to do???

          Liked by 1 person

  12. Now that we know this episode won’t air on Friday with the rest, I’m seriously starting to wonder if Letterman will go down to India. They do have a field portion and it would give them a huge boost in popularity if he made a public appearance there. It would be good and easy advertising for Netflix too. Then again, if he was going to go to India anyway, why did they make SRK fly down to NY to tape the interview? They could have taped it anywhere.

    Like

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