Dinner with Hrithik

SINGAPORE - What kind of conversation do you carry out when you have Bollywood superstar Hrithik Roshan on your left and his producer-director father Rakesh Roshan on your right during dinner?

Last Saturday night, the star and his dad were with a select group of people invited by tabla!, Tamil Murasu and events firm de ideaz at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

Earlier in the day, Hrithik and his dad addressed the media and enthralled a large crowd at the Singapore International Deepavali Shopping Festival at the Singapore Expo. At both these events, the agenda of the star was to promote his latest movie Krrish 3. And that was the only topic the father and son were willing to talk about in public.

Having been present at both these events, I had got my dose of the movie spiel and did not want to hear another round of Krrish 3. I must confess I have never watched a Hrithik film. All I know of him is from news reports. Growing up in India I had seen movies of his dad and listened to songs composed by his paternal grandfather Roshan.

Having rewound my version of Bollywood's memory lane I settled down with the star and his father for the meal.

As one of the hosts, I asked them what they would like to eat and drink. The senior Roshan preferred a Coke and nothing else. He said he had not eaten the whole day and after he got to his room at The Ritz-Carlton, he had ordered a Club sandwich. "It was this big," he described its size stretching out his arms. "I am too full and I cannot eat anything for the next few hours," he said.

Hrithik did not want anything to drink but decided to nibble on the starters. Earlier in the evening he had, during his interaction with the crowd at the Expo, said that his doctors would be upset if they knew that he had danced. The actor did groove to some music on the request of the emcee and the crowd. He had surgery to remove a blood clot from his brain in July and was advised to keep off strenuous exercise. Noting his slim figure, I asked him how he maintained it without exercise. "I have to maintain a strict diet and that keeps me fit," was his reply as he cut a prawn into two.

In between, his phone beeped with a message and even as he continued speaking to me I could see him check his Facebook account. When I asked him how often he checked his account, he admitted that he is pretty active on the social networking site.

Our conversation then switched to his children.

"I love children. I brought my sons, Hrehaan and Hridhaan (seven and five), some time ago to Singapore. I love this city and I took them to the Night Safari."

I then decided to show off my Bollywood knowledge and told him how I used to be a fan of his grandfather's music in the '60s. He probably added a few more decades to my age as he replied: "I continue to be his fan to this day." The younger generation of Bollywood followers may not know that Hrithik's grandfather was a hit Bollywood music composer in the 1960s.

Meanwhile, dad Rakesh could not resist talking about Krrish 3. When he found out that Dr Chitra Rajaram, who was seated at the same table, was the head of the Indian Broadcast Division at MediaCorp, he wanted her help in promoting the Tamil version of the movie in Singapore.

From the way Hrithik was dressed, it was quite evident that he had planned for a long evening.

During his daytime engagements, he had left his thick crop of hair flowing around his muscular neck but when he appeared for the dinner he had his long strands combed tightly towards the back and tied into a small ponytail.

"I like to walk and Singapore is one place I can walk without being stopped. In fact, after this event I might go for a walk." He then checked with a local contact and was advised to keep off Clarke Quay and instead head for Marina Bay Sands or Gardens By The Bay. Hrithik and his team had earlier walked from The Ritz-Carlton to the Mandarin Oriental since driving would have taken them longer due to the F1 road closure.

Soon his manager, a surly-looking lady, appeared and asked Hrithik what he would like to have. His reply: "The usual."

I was left puzzled by this exchange. Hadn't I asked him this very same question and didn't he decline? All was clear when she appeared again a few minutes later and briskly declared that it was time to leave. That probably was the "the usual" he wanted.

patrickj@sph.com.sg


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