If 2020 was a year of calamity, 2021 is already looking up, especially for Bollywood fans. Superstar Shah Rukh Khan just announced that you can stay in his family home in New Delhi through just a click on Airbnb’s website. Yes, the King of Bollywood, whose famous bungalow in Mumbai’s sea-facing Bandstand causes a literal traffic jam every evening due to the throngs of fans, is now actually opening his doors to his well-wishers, albeit in another city.
In an Instagram post, Shah Rukh Khan announced that he has partnered with the home-rental service to rent out his Panchsheel Park home, lovingly designed by his wife, interior designer Gauri Khan (rest assured, it’s going to be one bold and gold house). Looks like times are tough during Covid-19, even for King Khan!
Until now, locations where famous movies were shot — the Bobby cottage in Kashmir, Dil Chahta Hai fort in Goa, or Pangong lake in 3 Idiots — were the number one tourist attractions for ardent followers of Bollywood fandom. Think again, with Airbnb tying up with Indian celebrities like Khan, those who religiously wait outside their cinema stars’ homes can look inside, and laze on their sofa too.
Shah Rukh Khan is welcoming you to his ‘home with open arms’ — his signature Bollywood pose.
This is not the first time celebrities have partnered with Airbnb. In Hollywood, it’s actually pretty standard for stars to not only avail the service, but also open their luxurious pads up to lucky customers. From Denzel Washington’s house in Malibu to Jonas Brothers’ star Kevin Jonas’ Denville property, there is a plethora of famous homes up for grabs.
If you are more into classic Hollywood, as opposed to today’s celebrity factory, then Charlie Chaplin or Frank Sinatra’s home could be up your alley. But the fact that a Bollywood star’s house, and not just of any star but Shah Rukh Khan himself, is now accessible truly means something.
In India, our celluloid gods and goddesses don’t walk the same streets as we do. You won’t run into them at Starbucks. And their high walls and even higher security ensure that you won’t even get a peek into their homes. But perhaps this is changing. Being able to rent Shah Rukh Khan’s home is like a crack in the veneer of the Bollywood’s larger-than-life aura, and a welcome shift to a more humble, personable version of celebrity.
Also read: Of all Bollywood Khans, Shah Rukh’s life & career were built on the Nehruvian idea of India
Airbnb’s master stroke
The move of the rental service is sheer genius, one must admit. Especially in the year of Covid-19, in which global tourism has taken a huge hit. Airbnb itself reported $900 million in aggregate losses for two quarters of this year, and had to lay off 25 per cent of its workforce early into the pandemic. But the company was quick in cutting its losses, and pivoted to focusing on domestic travel to nearby locations as opposed to international travel. This proved to be a success, as travel restrictions and a move towards working-from-home meant an uptick in shorter, domestic travel.
Similarly, partnering up with a big name like Shah Rukh Khan, even though his home is in South Delhi and not somewhere remote or exotic, is a very smart move. Needless to say, Indians are obsessed with Bollywood and wouldn’t pass up a chance for any kind of voyeuristic proximity. Take Netflix’s announcement of a new show called Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives. Who cares the show seems like a direct imitation of Hollywood’s The Real Housewives franchise? Who cares that the show will focus on the wives of failed has-beens — Chunky Pandey, Sanjay Kapoor, who? What matters is that it will inch us a bit closer to seeing the living rooms of rich and glamorous Hindi film stars — and their friends. Let’s face it, the only exciting thing about the trailer of the show is that it suggests Shah Rukh Khan and Gauri Khan will make a cameo.
The Khan-Airbnb mash-up is designed to be for one night, and to win a highly competitive contest, you must fill out an application form — and answer, “in less than 100 words”, “what a perfect ‘Open Arm Welcome’ means to you”. This is sure to be a big boon for Airbnb, which began as a bed-and-breakfast startup in 2007.
For the winning duo, this clearly won’t be like any regular hotel stay — even though Gauri Khan’s designs put the most decadent hotels to shame. It will be like visiting a living, breathing museum, filled with stories from childhood, memorabilia, and personally curated knick-knacks. The only thing that could possibly top this experience is living there with Shah Rukh Khan himself.
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Listing your home on AirBnB is not going to save you from the Narcotics Control Bureau.
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