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.
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:
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.