Debutant RK in Saawariya (Inset)
On Sunday, Ranbir Kapoor and Pakistani actress Mahira Khan held court at the Global Teacher Prize gala in Dubai, giving speeches, interacting with fans and shaking a leg at the after-party. The duo, representing their respective countries, also shared the stage with West Indies and Sri Lankan cricketing legends, Brian Lara and Aravinda de Silva, spiritual leader Sadhguru, footballer Dwight York, author-host Bear Gillis and United Arab Emirates (UAE) Prime Minister and ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Al Maktoum. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined the celebrations via video conferencing.
On the red carpet, Ranbir, who’d arrived with Mumbai-based businessman, fimmaker and football team owner Bunty Walia (a regular fixture at the annual Varkey Foundation event), was greeted with a hug from Mahira. The Raees actress’s friend, fashion designerentrepreneur Huma Adnan, gifted him a custom-made Nehru jacketstyle sherwani from Amir Adnan’s special edition and the actor promised to wear it soon. Ranbir in a black tuxedo and diamond ear-stud, and Mahira in a fiery red Faraz Manan outfit, sizzled together, setting their fans on a “cast them together” trend on the social media.
Ranbir introduced two video messages, from England’s Prince Harry and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, and received a roaring applause for his own speech, which he had been rigorously rehearsing backstage earlier. “As an actor, I’ve often thought of how acting and teaching are close cousins. Both require limitless reserves of energy and enthusiasm. Both require humour, empathy, a gift for expressing ideas and holding the attention of an audience. And, both are jobs that come with homework in the after-hours,” he noted, admitting that he has memories of spending a great deal of quality time outside the classroom instead of inside it. “People think that I am an actor because my parents (father Rishi Kapoor and mother Neetu Singh) are actors. But, in truth, the only reason I wanted to become an actor was to get away from studies. I even took one-line roles, small parts in the background in theatre productions, so that I could bunk classes.” After the show, the 34-year-old actor shared that the two teachers in his life who stand out are his second grade Hindi teacher, Mr Khanna, who was like a parent to him, and National Award-winning filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali, who launched him as an actor in his 2007 film, Saawariya. “Bhansali sir beat the craft out of me. He also taught me everything I know about films today. My experience of the best teachers is that they can detect potential — even when a student, and in my case an actor, with the many glittering distractions of youth, is doing their best to waste or ignore their talents. Without teachers much of this potential would go unused,” Ranbir said.
Mahira shared that she’d been running a high fever on Friday and had initially intended to give the event a miss. RK also revealed that he wasn’t expected to be at the event until much later but was glad that he had made it.
The after-party began at 9pm. An Italian band had been flown into Dubai’s sea-facing Atlantis The Palm for the all-nighter. A video of Ranbir and Mahira engaged in an animated conversation went viral from the event. The Pakistani actress put all speculation, that she was pleading with the Indian actor, to rest by saying that they were just catching up, discussing work and recalling how she had so wanted to promote her Bollywood debut with her co-star Shah Rukh Khan on either side of the border. While Mahira stayed back, Ranbir left the party early, and was back in Mumbai on Monday afternoon to attend another event.
█ My experience of the best teachers is that they can detect potential even when a student is doing their best to waste or ignore their talent
— Ranbir Kapoor