After 19 years of marriage, when Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones wanted to renew their marriage vows, Michael chose Mumbai. It was a natural choice for him as he wanted Catherine to experience Mumbai and its warmth.
“Let’s go to Mumbai… I have a surprise for you… Michael had said to me that time,” said Catherine. “What he meant was – a surprise called Shailendra Singh and renewing the vows at his home!”
For Shailendra Singh, it was a bundle of happiness – hosting a great friend, helping him renew his marriage vows and meeting his Bhabhi for the first time.
“I first met Michael quite a few years ago when he had come here to do a recce for a film that he planned to produce and direct. Unfortunately, the film never happened. But I got to spend a lot of time as I scanned length and breadth of the country with him. This was beginning of our friendship…” said Shailendra Singh, who documented the Mumbai trip of Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas as Unplugged in Mumbai.
Catherine Zeta-Jones was surely surprised with the welcome she got. When they first reached Singh’s home, there was a whole Lejhim Pathak (group of lejhim – the local instrument - players playing it in a synchronized manner) that welcomed her with their choreographed moves matching the dhol that gave the rhythm.
“Shailendra’s energies were infectious. It was difficult not to enjoy the moment with him around. There was no scope even for a jet lag!” Catherine noted.
True Mumbai experience
Shailendra Singh gave them the true Mumbai experience by taking them to almost all of South Mumbai iconic places. Michael loved the Babulnath Temple the most. He was enamoured by the huge Shiva idol and the peace that the temple offered amidst all the hustle-bustle around.
For Catherine it was the Dhobhi Ghat at Dhobhi Talao. “The photographer in me was thrilled to see the world’s largest laundry. The visuals were spectacular.”
The Royal Couple of Hollywood was treated to varied Indian meals cooked by Chef Amar at Singh’s home. The couple loved the Butter Chicken and Appams combo the most.
Whose idea was it to document their visit? “Mine!” said Singh. “I am currently at a stage where I am motivated a ‘no expectations, no limits’ philosophy, and have been making ‘Unplugged cinema by Shailendra Singh’. However, this was far more personnel for me… to capture this unique friendship and hopefully inspire people to always keep your heart open, value the amazing people in your life and keep spreading the love.”