We are here in South Mumbai to meet Dinesh Mora, star of the hot Indian reality show, Real Peacocks of Mumbai. We arrive at a very exclusive gated community, protected by two Bengal tigers. The one at the driver’s side seems surprised to see a mongoose at the wheel. When he checks his guest list, he starts to chuckle, “Going to Mora’s, I see.”
We find a cul-de-sac of incredibly refined neutral-hued homes. Except the one painted bright pink. We get out, look around and see several limos with their macaque drivers waiting. The closest one is glaring at us. He comes over and asks if we’re friends of Mora. We explain about the interview.
The macaque grimaces. “I should have known. Since he’s moved in, it’s been a circus around here. I don’t know why they let him in. Everyone else here is high-level government; leopards mainly with a few lions. He’s a bird! Parties all the time. And look at that paint! Some royal bird of the gods!”
Andi, the photographer and I nod politely and walk to the door. It opens as we approach. It is Anika, Dinesh’s personal assistant. “Hurry up! Dinesh has been waiting for you!”
We walk into a large open room where a large handsome peacock is having some sort of oil massaged into his chest feathers. “Hello there! I’m running behind. We’ll only have time for a couple of pictures before we go. Remember: left side or full-face only. No close-ups of the tail.” Andi grins at me and takes a few shots.
Dinesh dashes out and gets on a vintage Royal Enfield motorcycle. He wants several pictures on it. “Girls love guys on bikes.” Andi poses him several ways before he roars off. Anika stays to do some work.
By the time we get to the studio, a stylist is trying to undo the wind damage to Dinesh’s tail feathers. “Be careful! You know I have the best-looking feathers here. Damage them and I’ll make sure you never work again!” She calmly continues her work.
“You! Picture girl! Come over here. I want some close-ups.” Andi glares at me and walks over.
I ask him how he likes living in Mumbai after spending the rest of his life in the north. “Well, I do miss Mum and my sisters. I’m trying to talk them into coming down here. I have plenty of room. The house is too big for me alone and I certainly am not ready to settle down yet.” He winks at me.
What does he think of the neighborhood? “Truthfully, I wish I’d done a little more research. I wanted someplace quiet so I could relax, but I might as well be living in a cemetery. Apparently none of them have friends. I can’t help that I eat outside and they have servants to prepare their meals. Besides, I keep thinking one of them is going to eat me.”
He’s called to the set. It’s a pretty typical scene from what I’ve heard. The four guys go to a bar, meet some girls they know. They all get a table. A couple of beautiful peahens walk by. Two of the guys get up to talk to them. Their girls get upset and go up to the peahens. Feathers fly. The guys go home, have a drink and talk about girls.
Dinesh goes back to make-up. He wants more oil on his feathers. “You would not believe how those lights can dry you out.”
A couple of female fans some back. One of them coos, “We’d love to rub oil into you.” Andi almost gags. Dinesh smiles and points at the bottles. The girls get to work.
“mmmm” Dinesh looks at us. “Get a couple more pictures, and I think we’re done. Try to avoid their faces. I don’t want any jealous ladies out there.” He thinks for a minute. “And don’t forget. I have final approval on all copy and pictures.”
We leave without telling him that he never got around to asking for a contract.
Riki T Tavi, Asia Correspondent
(all pictures courtesty of Google Images)