Beautifully flawless celebrities with award winning smiles dressed in expensive exclusive garments confidently walking along the red carpet. One picture, two picture, three picture, four, stop, turn, strike a pose then five picture, six picture, seven picture more. At least this is the image of the red carpet portrayed on television screens worldwide. Allow me to enlighten you to my red carpet experience on Monday 12th January 2009.After being invited to go to attend the red carpet premiere of Chandhi Chowk to China at Leicester Square’s Empire only days previously, I found myself dressed in a high-waisted black Sex in the City SJP style skirt, with a purple vest top, cute purple heels and accessories to add that extra je ne sais quoi. Underdressed or over the top? I wasn’t quite sure but it would have to do (all I can say is thank goodness my hair is short now, I don’t really have a choice of style to fuss over any more).
A less than quick stop later at my best friend’s house and we were both up at Leicester Square and heading (through the cold and rain) over to the London Radisson Edwardian Hampshire Hotel the designated ticket collecting spot, which was quite literally a stone throw from the Empire which at this point (5.15pm) was relatively calm. Great, I was just about to stroll down to the room to collect my exclusive media tickets to a film premiere hassle and cost free, this was the life. Ok, well maybe not. I should have guessed that the large numbers of Asian men, women and children heading in the same direction as me were not all members of the press.
And so I met a queue and soon came to realise that I was collecting tickets from the same place as online ticket buyers, competition winners and all of their cousins. Ok, once again maybe slightly naive on my behalf, but the point that I am trying to get across is that I was under the impression that the event would be a lot more exclusive than it was.
Nonetheless (at 6pm), tickets and media passes were now in toe, and my friend and I had left the Radisson to be met with loud Bollywood music echoing across the square and a swarm of people ever increasing outside of the Empire. The atmosphere was definitely building. Once we reached the security guard by the entrance to the red carpet we drawed for our media passes (which was the one thing that separated us from all of the other ticket holders) and were told that we could go around to one side of the red carpet which was reserved solely for media.
Feeling very exclusive we walked across the red carpet and stood behind the barriers that were set up for the media. From here I would be able to try and get some good pictures of Bollywood heartthrob Akshay Kumar and beauty Deepika Padukone amongst other cast members of the film to accompany my review. But within a matter of minutes we (print media) were asked to go inside the theatre to take up a place for media away from the harsh weather conditions outside. At the time this sounded like a fair deal, we would still get to take pictures of and speak with the celebrities but we wouldn’t have to stand in the cold. Now I can see that by directing us inside, not only did I not get to fully enjoy and take in my walking down the red carpet experience but I also missed the opportunity to take some of the more thrilling ‘in action’ pictures that are associated with premieres, you know the ones with the celebrity in the foreground and flashing lights and screaming fans in the background. Great.
Once inside (6.20pm) all of the print media were asked to stand in a cordoned off area at the top of the main entrance stairs, where for the next hour we stood and waited patiently as the cast of the film filtered in after having spent a vast majority of their time outside, presumably waving and talking to their fans and the broadcast media and generally posing and smiling before coming into the main entrance to (tease us at the top of the stairs) re-conduct themselves, puff warm air into their cupped hands and then walk back out for some more of the same.
Although this hour did seem to drag as we waited at the top of the stairs for the celebrities to actually walk up so that we could see them in all of their glory and use the opportunity that we were given to ask our question and take some of the finest close ups that one could possibly take. Far and few between what with all of the other ticket holders also arriving on the red carpet, it was great when this opportunity arrived. Each clearly cold and fashionably late but celebrities in their own right, they arrived. Brian and Glynn from Big Brother, Ameet Chana (Adi Ferreira) from EastEnders, Rishi Rich, Jay Sean’s Producer, and then Deepika Padukone, Akshay Kumar and as one Asian journalist put it ‘the grandfather of Bollywood’, Amitabh Bachchan. ‘Is this the first time you will be seeing the film?’, ‘How did you find working with the director?’, questions were flying past my ears and in the direction of the celebrity at hand, who answered what he/ she could and was willing to in the limited minutes that they could afford to give us. And then, they were rushed into their private section of the screening (7.25pm).
Looking back on it now, the experience was educational and priceless. The red carpet might not have been quite what I expected it to be, but with no real to life experiences to base my expectations on, my expectations had little grounding, and instead I came to realise that the red carpet serves its purpose which is to act as a stage for celebrities and only celebrities to be seen in all their glory.
Words by Susanne Singh
None of the thoughts in this blog are expressed by Flavour Magazine