There is a wonderfully poignant story, possibly apocryphal, about the original Hindi cinema ‘phenomenon’ Rajesh Khanna that reveals the limits of superstardom. During his peak years, Khanna would hold a daily durbar where his fans would gather to hear him recite dialogues from his films. The room would be packed and the drink would flow. Many years later, Khanna found the hall empty. “Arre, where has everyone gone?” he asked his Man Friday. “Sir, there is a new hero in town and his name is Amitabh Bachchan,” replied his aide softly. Shaken, Khanna went back to sleep.
I have met Deepika Padukone just once: it was the CNN IBN Indian of the year awards last year when she won the special achievement prize for having acted in a series of hit films. She cried on that occasion on receiving the award from her father, the legendary badminton player Prakash Padukone.