Confidence Uwazuruike came to Mumbai a few weeks ago to cover the Great Indian Election Tamasha. On this wishlist was to see Priyanka in flesh and blood. His wish came true this week, but not quite in the way he wanted it to be.
I came to India as part of the Project India group of Bournemouth University to cover the Indian elections.
Three men – Rahul Gandhi, Narendra Modi, Arvind Kejriwal -- and two women –Sonia and Priyanka Gandhi -- have been the main focus of my life for several weeks now.
Priyanka has been in the news a lot recently. There have been a lot of words exchanged between her and Modi, as she tries to help Rahul retain his Amethi seat. It would be a dream come true if I could meet her.
And as fate would have it, I met a Priyanka on May 5 in Mumbai but her surname wasn’t Gandhi or Vadra.
Priyanka Chopra is one of the most celebrated Indian actresses and was the winner of the Miss World pageant in 2000. She had come down to Mumbai, which she constantly referred to as home, to release her first solo single. The song which is titled ‘I can’t make you love me’ was originally performed by Bonnie Raitt.
You knew you were in the right venue when you get into the dimly lit hall of the Blue Frog. The Blue Frog in Lower Parel prides itself as ‘Mumbai’s premier live music performance space’. The rather small hall has a stage and several seating compartments shaped like frogs. These compartments can seat about seven people. The lightening gave the hall some sort of violet appearance.
On this night, the screens just in front of the audience had just one picture on them – Priyanka! You knew who the evening was about.
The event was to begin at 7.30 pm. But, until now I had not heard of the Indian Standard Time. It didn’t bother anyone when she was over an hour late. She came in at about 9.05 pm donning a black skirt with some white t-shirt with the inscription ‘only child’. She talked about her inspiration for choosing to sing that song. It was addressed to Indian young women that had been let down in a relationship. It was her first solo single and her first live performance and she thought Mumbai, home, was the best place to do that.
The small waiting crowd was eager to hear her sing. They didn’t wait for long now. But it wasn’t her voice we heard. It was some pre-recorded sound. It was her first performance, maybe she wasn’t as courageous. But we probably deserved better after a long wait.
But the press didn’t spare her.
Someone asked: “How come you sound different in all your songs”.
She replied: “But I just did it before all of you”.
Oh no, you didn’t!
In a challenge set by another journalist in the crowd, Priyanka had to prove she could sing, for real this time.
She sang a bit of the song with just her voice and she didn’t do too badly, according to the applause from the crowd.
Who knows? My good spell of luck might just continue and an opportunity to see the ‘real’ Priyanka, Priyanka Gandhi, may well fall before me.
Image: Priyanka Chopra at the Blue Frog event in Mumbai on Monday. Photograph: PTI Photo.