“Who is coming, Brad Pitt?” asked a passer-by as he tried to navigate his way through the growing crowd outside Elgin theatre.
The huge queue across the street was not for any Hollywood actor. It was for Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan, who was here to attend the screening of his wife Kiran Rao’s directorial debut ‘Dhobi Ghat’ at the ongoing 35th Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).
The 45-year-old actor, who plays a painter, is one of the three character’s in the movie, but the Bollywood enthusiasts had eyes only for Aamir.
Thousands of people, a medley of Indian and other origins, lined up the streets and the crowd grew in size every minute. And for those who could not get a ticket to the film, lined up the other side of the street to get a glimpse of their favourite star.
“He is a little man, I have to be careful otherwise I will miss him,” said Atika, who left her work early to see Aamir. “I love him, he has not given a single flop in the last ten years,” she said.
The chants of ‘Aamir, Aamir, Aamir,” was defeaning as the actor stepped down and gave a flying kiss to his fans.
Most of them rushed through the traffic to get a closer look and maybe, if they are lucky, a picture. And they had come prepared.
Aamir, dressed in a black shirt and brown suit, did not disappoint his fans. The actor was more than willing to step out of his security cordon to oblige a few lucky ones.
Navdeep, a young school student, who risked her life as she rushed through the moving traffic, got Aamir’s autograph on her jacket. She said she had a special marker, so that the autograph does not go even after washing it.
Supriya, who had come with a poster of Aamir, got a picture and an autograph of the actor.
“Oh my God, I got a picture with Aamir,” the die-hard fan said, adding that it was heady to meet and see the actor at such a close distance.
The buzz around the film, which has been dubbed as new “Hindie” cinema by the international media here, is rivalling the Hollywood premieres here. And the crowd, which was the biggest so far for any premiere, proved it.
About 1700 tickets were sold out days before but for those who could not manage it tried to get into the rush lines to grab a seat. Some even tried to buy tickets in black by paying double the price.
Interestingly, the movie’s director Kiran slipped unnoticed into the hall as Aamir was busy giving autographs to his fans. Most of them did not even know that the actor had come with his wife or the film was directed by her.
“It is huge for the Asian population here. There is lot of buzz around the movie. Bollywood premieres rival even Brad Pitt. They are in fact bigger,” Jennifer Bell, VP Communications of TIFF told PTI.
The film will have three shows, two for the media and industry people. Aamir, who is known for his strategic film promotions, reportedly does not want the Indian media to write much about the movie at this stage because the film will release later there.
The film is being hailed as a product of the “new wave” of Indian cinema. Other Indian films that have people curious is Aamir Bashir’s debut ‘Harud (Autumn)’ and Anurag Kashyap’s ‘The Girl In Yellow Boots”, which are having their gala premieres here.