THE SHIRTLESS WONDER
Charming, hilarious, and a gentleman. I’m not-so-obviously talking about Salman Khan. Not everyone might agree with these adjectives, but bear with me. I had no clue I had a soft spot for the beefcake actor in his impish Andaz Apna Apna days or even when he started whipping his shirt off at every opportunity. The great revelation came while I was feeling blue on my 23rd birthday, at a popular London restaurant, missing friends who were out of town. I looked up from weeping into my dessert to find a familiar face walking into the room. “Mom,” I said, “it’s funny how much that chap looks like…” and before I could say “Salman Khan”, his main squeeze at the time walked in too.
My mother was amazed at my rapid transformation to simpering fool. “I love Salman Khan,” I wailed. “I’ve always loved him!” I have no idea where that came from but my poor mother was totally befuddled. Bless her heart, for the next time Salman bhai (as one is wont to think of him) walked by, she sprang up and accosted him.
Once she’d told him it was my birthday, he insisted on hugging me and posing for a photo, despite being exhausted after a long day on the sets. The cherry on top was when he invited us to join his table. It was so sweet of him but I demurely demurred. He didn’t have to be so sweet to some random fan and his attitude completely bowled me over.
Suffice it to say I found him even more charming and hilarious in subsequent films, sitting through Dabangg, Ready and Bodyguard with nary a murmur, and forced all 12 members of my family to sit through the first day first show of Ek Tha Tiger.
– VISESHIKA SHARMA
NEED FOR SPEED
I have a need for speed. Not in my daily life, but certainly in the realms of imagination. A need to jump into a low-slung scarlet F1 car, helmet on head, gloves just askew (hey, are those crimson stilettoes on my feet? This is a dream, remember?). The long high-speed stretches, the flat out sweeping bends, the fast chicanes, the hurried pit stops for fresh tyres, the chequered flag and the roar as I jump onto the podium, Champagne from a magnum bottle spraying hair and eyes, blurring the shouting, cheering crowds, the faces of my team mates rejoicing.
Who lives my dream? The (now not so) secret crush of my life, the speed demon of the F1 circuit, the sexiest man on earth. Michael Schumacher, that’s who! The world’s greatest F1 driver. The man who, after seven consecutive wins on the circuit gave it all up, only to return since his hunger for speed was unbeatable. A defining moment in my life, in fact, was at the Grand Prix in San Marino in 2004, when ‘Schumi’ took the podium after an astounding win. Fans danced with joy as I, in a daze, walked quietly away from the most exciting moment of my life.
– SHIRIN MEHTA
THE VOICE OF A MILLION ANGELS
It was the summer of 2007 when I first heard Makes Me Wonder. There is something bewitching about a skeezy vocalist wrapped in tattoos rendering the most explicit of lyrics. In that moment I just got hooked. Adam Levine is an unreasonable object of desire, especially for someone coming from an orthodox Catholic home with a no-inking and no-piercing policy. Eventually, the forbidden grabbed my fancy. I sang less of Silent Night and more of One More Night. Levine’s bare-chested artistic body posters soon dotted my bedroom walls, replacing pious images of saints and holy men. After all, how can you not be smitten by the sweet high notes of I’m at a payphone trying to call home, but all of my change I’ve spent on you?
I was always of the impression that vocalists are cocky people, perpetually high and surrounded by tramps. But isn’t the whole more than the sum of its parts? Pretty intense for a front man, his rugged spirituality and absolute passion cannot be found in the everyday. I still tune in night after night to watch him on The Voice, mentoring young musicians. With tons of experience and a calming demeanour he reminds me of slow, wise winds. So, it’s not just his whipped cream-like hair, or how he makes ripped tees look good that make him irresistible, but it’s the dream of being with Adam Levine, and letting it be only a dream.
The closest I have got to Maroon 5’s front man is sketching his portraits that make me feel a little less distant. Like a star in my sky – he is constant, familiar, bright and far…far above me. Exactly how I would always want it to be. Like the one time, while passing a music store, Maroon 5 happened to play on a huge LED screen. And there he was, a life-size Adam Levine – playboyish but charming. I stood there – dazzled, feeling hopeless.
– WYANET VAZ
A DANGEROUS ROMANCE
My heartfelt love is reserved for Ranbir Kapoor. Well, why are you looking at me so judgmentally? Doesn’t everyone dream of a charming, rumoured philanderer, bad-boy with innocent looks who can flirt enough to sweep a pedestal off its feet? No? Only me, then.
But seeing how we’re going with unattainable lust-worthy men, only one person fits the bill really: Daniel Craig. When an impending blonde Bond was announced, like other armchair Bond experts, (you know, as opposed to the brand creatives) I scoffed and announced that this was the beginning of the end. After all, with a benchmark set by Sean Connery and other dark-haired dreamies, did a blondie with blue eyes stand a chance?
The world stood corrected as one of the most popular Bonds stormed, tumbled and charmed us all. He exudes raw masculinity with clever panache and sophistication, all wrapped up in a seductive cloak of mystery. That intense look which I love seems permanently sculpted upon him, perhaps because of all the heavy-duty Bond training.
It’s that look which sends a delicious frisson of excitement down your spine. You don’t know what he’s thinking and your next moment is always unpredictable. Dry wit is his forte, and as proven by the latest Bond movie which was as close to Bollywood action and drama as it can get, he ably displayed vulnerability, romance and possessiveness.
And his romance is always slightly dangerous, and on as epic a scale as his name. He might whisk you off for dessert to Paris and back, because you may have mentioned that you love macaroons. You don’t know when a spontaneous little drive becomes a thrilling chase sequence with the car converting itself into either a submarine, helicopter or cake van. Instead of ball-dancing under glowing lights at Claridge’s, you might be hanging off its chandeliers, safely clasped in his muscular arms as he devises a safety exit from insufferable villains. Works perfectly for me!
– SHREYA SHAH
A BAWDY COOK-OUT
I am talking Dane Cook here. If the stand-up comedian and actor can get a 1000 people in the room to shut up and take delight in listening to him, he sure can get a girl to purr to his cocky charm. Then it makes you wonder, is he all about the sexy love? Perhaps a few chortles to censor the intensity, lest I get a stroke from far too much spice.
Then again, wonderment strikes when you think of his spluttering giggles amidst his joke telling. It’s like he is actually sharing it with you. That warmth lassoes you, very tightly, into a fantasy with him. This one fills the thought bubble with the six-feet tall Dane who exudes a confidence so hesitant, it’s almost like practised imperfection. Imagine those brown eyes tucked under those thick, brown eyebrows piercing through your own pair, concentrating on unveiling what you may be all about.
He does have that smug arrogance about him – one reserved for the deserving. You may get a dose of it too, but with a boyish grin to sweeten the slur. He speaks about the intensity of a passionate row – and then the imagination paddles to how his good side may whisk you on a vacation to make up for everything. He has that adventure about him. To some place undiscovered. And that’s possible because of his piles of money. Witty and wealthy. Now that’s a combination that makes me weak
The icing is his aptitude to create backups just in case this lucrative show business doesn’t hold him forever. He is probably the first stand-up comic to market himself through a fan page. All that rich boy vibe is independent of his rugged, masculine, boyish, self-assured, intelligent, stubbly self. That humility! He is the typical you-get-what-you-see kind of man. Alas, it is the can-never-get-him bit, which is the tragedy.
– NEHA GUPTA
A BAD BOY CRUMPET
Wentworth Earl Miller III best known as Michael Scofield in the hit American television drama, Prison Break, definitely is good-looking – he made it to People magazine’s 100 most beautiful people in the world. Impressive seeing how he spent much of his screen time bald. We know clean-shaven is sexy, but bald? It’s not that there aren’t sufficient handsome heroes that rock my boat – from Ryan Phillippe, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Gabriel Macht, Zac Efron to our local boys, Imran Khan and Ayushmann Khurrana.
The thing about Miller is that he’s really unattainable. He sent estrogen on a downward spiral when he finally came out of the closet by declining to attend the St Petersburg Film Festival as he was ‘deeply troubled’ by the Russian government’s treatment of its gay citizens. 2013 saw him return to his writing roots and this private person isn’t afraid admitting to enjoying his time at The Art Institute of Chicago or staying at home playing Scrabble. He attempted suicide as a teenager, and has struggled with his roots coming from a bi-racial background –his parents have 11 ethnic origins between the two of them, including European and African-American.
And yet, his intensity as Michael Scofield, with the penetrating eyes, self-contained emotion and searing intellect all serve up a pretty hot mix. He’s a lean, mean, thinking machine. He’s a good guy trapped in a world that’s vicious; and he’s only trying to find his ‘safe’ place. Never thought I’d want a bald, multi-racial man who’s got major issues and is sure-fire gay…but then with women you just never know, do you? And he’s named after Captain Wentworth…from Jane Austen’s Persuasion.
– SITANSHI TALATI-PARIKH
THE MAN WHO WOULD BE PRESIDENT
As an adolescent bookworm nerd, but with my normal hormonal urges raging, I used to devour the written word as eagerly as I polished off my pastas. I read The Man by Irving Wallace – and the concept of ‘the man’ stayed with me for long after I had finished the gripping work. The thought of a ‘coloured’ man becoming the President of the USA was something one couldn’t envisage then.
As did the man, who came along when I was much older and wiser and, in one historic election, made the impossible possible. Epitomising the ‘I can, I will, I do’ aphorism, Barack Obama rode into the White House and swept a nation – and a world – off its feet. And, me along with the rest, for who was I to resist his simple charm!
Naturally, I stayed glued to the small screen when he was sworn in. He emphasised the theme ‘A New Birth of Freedom’ using phrases associated with Lincoln such as ‘better angels’ and ‘a new declaration of independence’. And I thought to myself, ‘Oh, to be Michelle Obama, at the side of a man who helms one of the most powerful democracies in the world!’ To be one of the most photographed women in the globe in coveted designer wear (our very own Indian Bibhu Mohapatra, for one) and be able to whisper sweet nothings and useful homilies into the ears of a man who can literally move the world.
So, technically, the question ‘Why Obama?’ needs no answer. For though he may not be conventionally Mills & Boonish tall and handsome (dark though he is), the current resident of the White House is a sure-fire heart-warmer with his endearing smile and intact family image. It is a picture that I would love to have in my family album.
And his very name exudes power today – so what if carping critics feel his Nobel Prize for Peace was prematurely given. When he speaks, people listen and heads turn when he walks into a room. His relationship with Michelle makes him all the more special. For what greater high could a woman get than to walk in step with him!
– SHRADDHA JAHAGIRDAR-SAXENA
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