On the afternoon of 18 May, Yogen Shah, a 54-year-old photographer, received a short phone call from one of his many informants across Mumbai. The informant said that Shah Rukh Khan was at Mehboob Studio, in the posh suburb of Bandra. As I sat across from Shah in his spacious office in the Yari Road neighbourhood, he cautioned me that the leads he receives can be inaccurate, or delivered too late to be useful. He decided to pursue this one anyway, and we set off in an autorickshaw on the ten-kilometre trip south to Bandra.
When we reached the studio, a band of guards in safari suits manned the entrance, standing before a cluster of about 25 paparazzi. Shah and I joined the photographers in time to hear one of them announce, to no one in particular, “SRK must be inside.” Soon, the gates opened, and multiple SUVs emerged. “Yeh kaun hai?”—who is this?—a photographer asked, pointing at a car. It had tinted windows, but through the windshield it was possible to see a man sitting in the back seat. “Yeh Apple-wallah hai,” came the reply from another, referring to Tim Cook, the CEO of the tech giant. Within seconds, the paparazzi began jostling one other, each trying to position himself for the best shot.
Shah lifted his camera overhead, but the angle did not yield a good image. In a last ditch effort, the photographer—a remarkably athletic man for his age—headbutted his way out of the crowd, rushed towards the car and scaled a concrete barrier across the road, clicking multiple frames as he moved. Shah had acted in the nick of time. The vehicles disappeared a few seconds later, and the photographers dispersed. Some jumped onto motorbikes to trail the cars; others set off to drink chai and sift through their shots.