We used to drink in the same bar but I didn’t know who he was. I was drinking with Adrian and was well past midnight when the bald man in black trench coat with strong imposing eyes entered. Adrian introduced Oto as a vocalist from J.A.R., a very popular band in Europe. May be it didn’t mean much to me. What registered in my mind was the warmth with which he made friends with me and was easy to converse with. We all drank to good friendship.
Fast Forward to May 2006. I received an SMS from Oto about rock show where he would be performing. He had gotten a special VIP pass for me. So we met early at Bala Bar, had few shots, hailed a cab, and reached the venue. I had never been to a rock show in Europe so it was a shock to see a humungous crowd. We went to the VIP enclosure.
We sat down and were having beer when Oto introduced me to other members of his band Dan, Roman, and Michael. J.A.R. was supposed to perform the closing numbers so we had enough time. Oto took me out to see how it feels to be in the crowd. It was a festive mood and fans were enjoying beer amidst loud music. We were standing at the far end from the stage where the crowd was slightly thinner when a lady dressed in emerald green gown flanked by four body guards in black tuxedos passed by.
‘Who is she?’ I asked while still gawking.
You don’t know? Oto was surprised. I just shook my head. He began to smile.
‘The actress from Casino Royale’ Oto remarked.
‘Oh!’ before I could give any excuse for not able to recognize a Hollywood star from Kingdom of Heaven, Oto burst out laughing at me. I decided to go slow on beer. We moved back stage when we realized the fans had noticed Oto’s presence in the crowd.
Half an hour before midnight, J.A.R. got on the stage. Oto arranged for me to stand right in front of the stage before the barricade. It was exciting. The real exhilaration began when the band started. The 8,000 strong crowd was going out of control. I would not be exaggerating if I say they were going berserk. When the band announced that superpero would be the last number for the evening the crowd breached the barricade at many places. They wanted the band to continue all night long. I had my sympathies with the cops who were trying their best in terms of crowd control.
After the show was over it took almost an hour for Oto obliging his diehard fans with autographs and requests for snapshots. I felt this would be unending. An alternate plan for me was to go and crash in one of the V.I.P. tents till Oto is through with his fans. You just don’t need talent but abundant energy too to be a popular icon.
On our way back, I was quiet because I was totally taken in by the events of the evening and the wonderful performance of Oto and JAR. Oto asked me if I liked the show. I nodded first and after a pause I blurted out
‘You are a fucking rock star, Oto!’
He just smiled and kept looking straight. He gave some instructions in Czech to the cab driver then looked at me
‘Let’s have some more beer at Bala Bar’ he said firmly. There was no way I could have said no. It is a rock star’s party.