"Deol family mein tragedy ho gayi hai, please side," a gigantic bouncer announced to no one in particular, swatting an imaginary swarm of people away.
No One in Particular wasn't buying it.
"Coke break, bro. Look at his eyes, he's already fucked - can't you tell?" he offered, with the smug look of a guy who knows what's up. Three of his friends, dressed in floral three-piece suits with banana-shaped LV shoes, laughed in unison, high-fiving each other with a phenomenal lack of coordination.
#RSVP #29thjuly @welcometomohitworld #royalplazahotel #connaughtplace #Delhi
A video posted by Gautam Gulati (@welcometogauthamcity) on
"I SAID NA, he'll be back at 1am!" a sweaty manager barked at a visibly upset woman in a strapless yellow chiffon gown.
I have no reasonable explanation for why I was here, amongst this hot mess of people by the pool area of Royal Plaza Hotel, at midnight last Friday. What's important is that things had come to an abrupt halt inside this nightclub, and everyone had their own theory about what might have happened.
In case you missed it, there was a poster flying around the internet about two weeks ago, announcing that actor Bobby Deol is now a DJ, and this was his first ever gig. Some "reports" claimed Deol has been DJing at clubs in London for ages already, but most people's reaction to "Bobby Deol: Spinning Live & Loud" was basically LOLPLSBRO.
Of course I initially thought it was a joke, a hack job by someone who doesn't even know how to use Photoshop properly because... I mean, just look at it. But when the joke only amplified a week later, with a video of Deol confirming this "gig" appearing on Instagram, morbid fascination took over, resistance was futile.
So was any attempt at scoring a free pass. I tried getting on the guest list; I was told "only Mr Deol has a guest list, everyone else is Rs 6,000". Instead of urging me to drop it altogether, my increasingly unpredictable brain transmitted this back to me as, "WHAAAT? Even better!"
It is a truth (that should be) universally acknowledged that Deol Jr is all kinds of consistent persistent.
Since his 1995 debut in Barsaat, this guy has been in one movie or another every single year — where he doesn’t have a full fledged role, he has at least managed a guest appearance, usually “playing himself”.
Some of the earlier movies (Gupt Gupt, Sol-dier Sol-dier, Bichhoo) earned him a cult-like following, but with later films like Thank You, Players, and Yamla Pagla Deewana, his career, like skydiver Luke Aikin yesterday, basically flung itself off a plane without a parachute.
That he still managed to show up on the big screen so consistently to remind us he’s still around, through the years, and a variety of questionable haircuts, is no small feat.
This continued till 2013, which is when Yamla Pagla Deewana 2 - starring all three Deols, and that ridiculous orangutan - released. Considering we hadn't heard from Jr Deol since, it seemed safe to assume that he too had realised there was no coming back from that "dhhai kilo ka dud".
Well, unless you change tack completely.
And there's no shame in having a plan B.
Within Bollywood, Shilpa Shetty and Bipasha Basu have workout videos, Randeep Hooda owns and races horses, Salman Khan plays Cluedo with the cops. A bunch of them sing, others own IPL, kabaddi, and now wrestling teams. Bobby Deol is a DJ. No big deal.
Except your first "gig" is at a club in Delhi called "RSVP - The Legacy Continues", filled with Big Deal nitrogen smoke, hookah smoke, seven completely different kinds of lasers, and deceptively normal fans, who writhe and collapse every time you kiss the peace sign/guns you keep making with your fingers. Add to that five fountains of fireworks showering down simultaneously from the ceiling at regular intervals, and you know you're finally doing Friday night right.
The title track from Gupt announced Bobby's entry. In slow motion. From behind a wall of bouncers. As he stood at the console somewhat vacantly (which is a normal human's equivalent of looking very highly enthusiastic, the Deols in general just aren't into plebeian things like emotions), I immediately dismissed all scepticism.
It's all too easy to mock a famous guy now best known for a parody Twitter account run by someone else entirely, but what if this was good; what if this was his calling, the thing he was meant to do all along? The internet may have been all ZOMG WTF ROFLMAO, but I was all set to be surprised by the next four hours of foot-stomping "EDM and Bollywood".
Deol opened with Klingande.
I feel that already says everything you need to know about the rest of the night, but I'll try and elaborate for your sake so that I can get it out of my system.
As the first track began to fade, Deol took over the mic to introduce the next one as if we were at a Debutantes' Ball for songs.
Arjun Kanungo got a special shout out as "Baaki Baatein Peeni Baad" ricocheted off the tiger-print walls. But the crowd remained unmoved. They weren't here for the music, these were fans of various Deols, paying a massive entry fee to be able to say they met one of them.
Every Delhi cliche except the Hauz Khas Village wannabe hipster and his sub-genres showed up: aunties in shimmering saris, uncles drinking whisky and eating tandoori mushroom, young men in half-open shirts and gold chains blowing hookah smoke into the heavily made up faces of their Plus Ones.
I was especially distracted by a woman in a red velvet floor-length gown with fur trimmings (does she know it's July?).
At a glance, the whole thing looked/felt a little bit like one of those terrible north Indian weddings your parents drag you to when you're small.
Deol tried his damnedest (I mean, he shrugged), but these guys were only interested in taking selfies, with or without his cooperation.
Temporarily disheartened, Deol picked up the mic again. "I don't see anyone moving, guys, come on, enjoy the music," he said almost sweetly, even as he posed for more photos while some dude hopped into the DJ enclosure to control the decks for him.
No one budged.
Until the fireworks went off again, forcing a handful of people to step outside coughing and sputtering.
We could still hear Yamla Pagla Deewana thumping through as we stood awkwardly around the insane number of marble statues the hotel uses as primary decor, trying to breathe again.
Only a few minutes later, a sudden rush of people raced down the stairs and past us towards the driveway. Deol was in this spin. Headed straight for his car.
"That's IT? He's DONE?!" we asked with urgency because it had barely been 20 minutes since this thing started, and a lot of us hadn't even made it to the bar yet.
As I tried not to trip over a nude marble Aphrodite casually holding a lamp over her head, with a rabbit at her breast, and then Cupid reclining on a marble lounge eyeing a pair of naked Roman maidens at least twice his age (seriously, what the fuck is going on at this hotel?), speculations about Deol's hasty exit flew thick and fast - there was the club manager's official BRB story, and the security guards' inside story about the family tragedy; the hushed gossip between three disgruntled aunties in Chanel hair clips, and the loud "Too Much Drugs" theory from the Floral Suits.
One can't say for sure that it was the crowd, or the choice of venue, or even the 47-year-old star attraction's complete disregard for his audience - one was just very quickly beyond caring.
One might have been mildly appeased with a money back option. But one was instead shouted at.
"He played. We never said how long he will play!" spat one of the organisers with way too much attitude for someone who was wolfing down paneer tikkas five minutes ago. "He came, na? You saw, na? You enjoyed? Bas. That's it. He's a celebrity, I can't control him. No refund. Event is still on, our DJ is playing Mr Deol's songs."