August 2006: A crazed fan expresses her love (lust?) for top model Milind Soman, the month after his wedding.
I brought it upon myself.
I’ve been meaning to write this article for a really long time. I finally sent it in to my editor this morning. A few hours later, I got a call from a friend telling me that Milind Soman got married a few days ago in Goa. I’ve had to rework this article with teary eyes. It was just bad timing…
I have been madly in love with Milind Soman for a painfully, heart-breakingly long time. I first saw Him when I was 12, staring down at me from a large hoarding at Chowpatty. He was beautiful and nude (that’s how I remember it)—and I had my first love-at-first-sight moment. That was 11 years ago. I’m 23 now. And I’m still in love.
Now, any other, less madly-in-love, less obsessive, less committed woman would have just given up. She would have said, ‘Forget it; get on with your life.’ Can you imagine being steadfastly in love with a man who doesn’t even know you exist for 11 years? Well, I am, and it’s painful!
The thing is, the man is gorgeous. His long, lean and absolutely beautiful expanse is covered with silky olive skin. His physique is just right—not gym pumped but swimmer natural. His black eyes crumple perfectly into His clean-cut face; His wavy locks snake seductively over His forehead. Ohhh… I could write a Mills and Boons novella with Him as the archetypical male hero.
In other words, Milind looks like a God. [Oh, we’re on first-name-basis, you see—in my brain, as inventive as Thomas Edison’s, we’ve shared many-a tender moment, not to mention some not-quite-so-tender!] I pray to Him and I pray for Him. I’m agnostic when it comes to a God in Heaven: when it comes to my God here on Earth—well, I’m the most fanatical devotee there is. Oh, these crazy South Indian movie fans, with their temples to their Movie-Gods: I completely empathise! I remember pretending to agree with a bunch of my friends who found this devotion bizarre. Tara*-the-Intelligent even genuinely agreed with them. However, Tara*-the-Crazed-Fan (who takes over during conversations even remotely pertaining to Milind) completely understood the fellow crazed fans’ point of view.
Considering the fact that I live in India and have made it my second job to hunt and have Milind, I have never ever seen, let alone met Him! Some God in Heaven has decided I shouldn’t have this one thing that matters so much—any wonder I’m agnostic? Lesser fans—even those who aren’t fans at all—have seen/met/touched/hugged Him. Why? Is that fair? I’ve had so many near misses. So, so many—
Jaya, my friend in college, came to class one morning, and, looking me straight in the eye, said, "Oh, I saw Milind Soman at the American Diner yesterday." Did she know how much she was hurting me? Such incidents happen all the time…
This has to be one of the most painful ones. I went to a party in Delhi with my then-best-friend and then-boyfriend. It was his friend’s party, and Neha and I had more interesting things lined up. Soon, we peeled off and went to a pub nearby for a rock show. The sound check was endless, and the music, when it finally happened, wasn’t worth the wait. My phone rang. It was Shiv. "Serves you bitches right," he said laughing, "Milind Soman just came and left." I hung up stunned, ready to kill Neha for having dragged me to this terrible show. She reasoned with me, "Oh, he’s probably just pulling your leg. Call up Shibani and find out." I called up Shibani. "Oh, oh, don’t talk to me," she screeched breathlessly, her ecstasy jamming the phone line, "I just saw Milind Soman walk around bare-foot in the garden!"
Then, there was the time, a few years ago. I was in London with my parents. My aunt Beena was driving us to Eton. Staring out of the window at the stream running along the road, I caught a glimpse of a movie set and of… Him. Yes, Milind, breath-taking in a white shirt, was singing to some chick on the banks of that stream! What? "Stop! Stop!" I yelled. But it was too late; there was too much traffic behind us. I spent the day sullen, happy only in my daydream, where the car stopped and I ran into His arms. Somehow—and I’m not quite sure how—He ended up singing to me, with the bimbette floating downstream with her arms flailing wildly.
When I was based in Chennai, I was asleep one afternoon when my phone rang. I looked at it groggily. It was my closest friend in the city, who worked for Mani Ratnam. I rejected his call. Again. And again. What was wrong with him? I called him back that evening. "Oh sorry," he said, "I just thought you might have enjoyed dropping by the office today. Milind Soman spent the afternoon with Mani Sir." Damn, damn!
This same friend decided not to give up on this little matchmaking exercise and, on my birthday, informed me that his present to me would be a dinner with the man Himself. I told absolutely everyone I knew. But there was a catch, you see. I would have to pose as a screenwriter and pitch a fictitious movie plot to my heartthrob. My first meeting with Milind riddled with deceit? Had I really sunk that low? Hell yes! For Him, I’d be the Queen of Sheeba herself! However, fate had its own cruel plans and Milind, it turns out, was out of town and asked for the synopsis to be mailed to Him. I had a lot of egg to wipe off my face the next day, that’s for sure.
Now the thing is, I’ve had His email ID but I considered it beneath me to send Him an email. After all, I needed to play hard-to-get. I am a lady. I decided I could not go around making first moves on random men. Discretion, I thought, was the key. I couldn’t just tell Him. So now, for that folly, I’m destined to sit in the shadows, my heart broken, Milind on my bedroom wall, Milind in my pocket (Yes, I carry photu of Him, phull philmy ishtyle.) Sigh!
Well, it was bound to happen, sooner or later. I was having a long shower one morning, blissfully unaware that my life was going to change. My phone rang, and I extended a soapy hand to answer it. "Supplement, page one," said my friend talking in terse code language, befitting the disaster that was lurking in the newspaper. There, there she was, a pretty French actress, proclaiming her love and commitment to Milind, and telling the world how happy she’s going to keep Him. MY Milind. And now he’s married! He didn’t wait for me!
Well, to be fair, Tara*-the-Intelligent has always had a feeling. It was an uncomfortable realisation that I chose not to acknowledge. Milind, Man-of-My-Dreams-Milind, well, I never really thought we’d get along. My collection of articles on and interviews of the man all told me one painful thing. We really wouldn’t get along. He’s a morning person, I’m a night person—we’d live in different time zones and would barely meet each other. He’s a hill person, I’m a sea person—the hills make me queasy and depressed. He wants to settle in an apple orchard away from people, I want to settle in a busy city—I’d die without people. But when it comes to matters of the heart and hormones, the sane voice is often not the loudest.
An edited version of this article appeared in Man’s World in August 2006.
Shortly after I sent in this article, many people around me were like, 'Oh, you like Milind? I know him too! My wife is his stylist/my son and he go trekking together/we’ve been friends since school/etc…' And I was like, 'Haven’t you been listening to the whining of my hormones all these years?!' Suddenly, many people were volunteering his number, and after this article was published, I sent him an SMS telling him to read it. He did, and SMSed me back (saying he was scared of me, but that’s besides the point). For years after, until I dunked that phone in water, I preserved our conversation, to be able to tell our kids, ‘Dekkho, papa aur mummy aise mile the.’
And, would you believe, over a decade of working in the media, living in the same city, having many common friends, conversing on Facebook later, I only laid eyes on him at an airport last year (small ‘H’ now). Ha.