When we say movie stars are essentially a notso-literate lot, we usually forget to factor in the most interesting actors.
At Vikram Seth's reading for his new non-fiction book, Two Lives, Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan popped up out of nowhere to take an unobtrusive seat in the front row at the Mumbai book launch on October 18 at Taj Lands End.
But even as we listened to Vikram engagingly explain about the remarkable relatives he's written about attention began to flag. Cameras started moving away from the stage and Seth and his Two Lives to focus on the casually-dressed actor. Vikram swiftly switched tracks to describe his dentist great uncle's technique of examining patients and called a young gentleman on stage, and suddenly we saw Aamir sitting there. "Open your mouth... Shocking," Vikram commented looking at Khan's molars.
Speaking to rediff.com, the actor confirmed that he was "a longtime fan of Vikram's works, and didn't want to miss up the opportunity of a Vikram Seth reading."
He said he's currently about halfway through Two Lives, the new book. When asked for his favourite Seth novel, the actor scratched his chin thoughtfully. "I think I'll have to say Golden Gate. I just loved that book. A Suitable Boy comes in a very close second."
Even as people got Seth to sign copies of the new novel, Aamir relaxed in the fact that he was under lesser pressure, lesser attention. He stood by warmly and signed autographs, talking all the while about how he hardly gets to play tennis anymore. And got up when the queue lessened to get his book signed.
What else does Aamir like to read? "All kinds of books. I have very varied interests." Aamir has met Vikram on a few other occasions, and he seems quite interested in the new book. Is there anything else he's reading at the time? Aamir chuckles. "That's what I'm reading right now. I read one book at a time."
Text: Raja Sen | Photographs: Jewella C Miranda