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April 3, 1997


Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson

Michael Mania

November 1, 1996, marked a historic moment in Bombay's social history. The King of Pop, the man who no one can ignore, held his first show in the country. As the 40,000 plus crowd went wild in the Shahaji Raje Bhonsle Kreeda Sankul, two people were going quietly hysterical backstage. We present the Noble Savages and, in first person, their encounter with the one and only Michael Jackson.

Shirin Valentine

I was only nine years old when I saw Michael Jackson perform for the first time. Even then, I was sure that, some day, I was going to shake hands with him. What I didn't know then, though, was that it was going to be so soon and in this way.

Noble Savages
The Noble Savages
When the moment finally came, I was really nervous. I mean, this was the first time I would be meeting the King of Pop. And he has - at least, I thought so - a rather standoffish image, something on the lines of "I'm not one of you."

But when I actually met him… (Sigh!) I can only put it this way - if you want another word for perfection, it's Michael Jackson. He's a very nice human being, very strong on etiquette.

Michael is a perfectionist of the 110 per cent variety. Though he keeps his distance with the crowds, he has a very honest smile. That makes you feel that he must be a very honest person with a very honest heart. And I love his eyes - I think they are really beautiful.

Many people had told us that, during the show, Michael Jackson often stands backstage to watch the supporting acts perform. We never believed it, though. Not until November 1, this year.

My mother, who was watching us from backstage, told us that he
Michael Jackson
The master entertainer
was actually there. And that he danced to our numbers Nariman Point and If I'm The Star. He even chatted with her, "So, you must be the lucky mom!"

Michael's personal bodyguard had become very pally with our mother. Even he admitted that performing half-an-hour before Michael was due on stage was a very tough act. And that he really liked us.

After the performance, Cyrus and I were invited to Michael's dressing room. I was really tiny and lined with black curtains. The room was dominated by a huge flight case that contained his entire wardrobe. Michael was in the process of getting ready for the show. But he took time off to shake hands with us. He said he really liked our performance.

Later that night, when Cyrus and I were tucking in into a much-deserved dinner, we found Michael's choreographer smiling at us. Cyrus thought he was smiling at us because we were Indians. We smiled at him and went on with dinner.

The next thing we know, Michael's choreographer was standing next to our table in one of the poses we had used during our performance. "I really liked this," he smiled.

You know, there are certain events which really impact your life. This is one of them. I can never forget the fact that I've met Michael Jackson. And I will never forget the fact that Michael Jackson, the greatest performer in the world, actually knows who we are!

Cyrus Valentine

Noble Savages
Noble Savages: shellshocked
That man is unfair to upcoming artistes! I wonder if Michael Jackson even realises how strongly he affects people like us. And I only realised it after we started practice for November 1.

Suddenly, we had to be very careful and make sure that we were not imitating him in any manner. It was only then that we realised how much we had unconsciously imbibed from him; how much he had influenced us. This, despite the fact that our styles are completely different.

We knew quite early on, in June in fact, that Wizcraft was interested in us as a support act for the Michael Jackson show. The Jackson management apparently wanted a support act that was known internationally as well as nationally.

We were told that we would have to create an act that would use a team of dancers. This was an important moment for us, too. We wanted this show to be different from anything we had ever done in the past - this had to be the best show of our lives.

No one was allowed to see the stage until it was ready. This, of course, meant that we would not have a chance to rehearse on the stage on which we would actually perform. So we began our rehearsals on October 21.

November 1, 1996 will always be a very important day in our lives. It was our biggest performance to date - we let loose in front of 40,000 people. And we watched Michael Jackson perform, and were offered the opportunity of actually performing on the same
Shirin (left) and Cyrus Valentine
Shirin (left) and Cyrus Valentine
stage as him. It was a great honour for us. I'm sure you'll be able to spot his influence on our future shows.

You can't help being influenced by him. He is such a humble person - he even bends down each time he greets someone. At the party at the Oberoi, I saw him do that every time he was introduced to some one - and God knows how many people he met that night.

If I die at this moment, I'll still feel good. I have a sense of achievement, of having reached a certain level.

But I still think my mom was luckier that us - after all, she was the one who got to shake hands with him twice.

As told to Suparn Verma