In 1996, Michael Jackson flew to India in a private jet. The entire airport had to be shut down and the staff lined up to catch a glimpse of the King of Pop.
India was to witness a historic concert on a scale never seen before. Sabbas Joseph, director of Wizcraft, the event management agency that pulled this off recalls, “Michael met the CM and Raj Thackeray.
This was followed by an aarti by Sonali Bendre. And then, as he was walking out, a strange incident occurred. A child fell down and Jackson immediately glided over and picked him up. He held him and hugged him with such care like he was the child’s mother.”
Sabbas was reminded of the incident years later when the controversy about child molestation broke out. He says, “The allegations seemed all wrong. Michael even shot with 100 children in India for a calendar that he was producing.”
On his way from the airport, he stopped the car several times to dance with the poor. There was a sense of excitement of him being in India. Sabbas adds that Jackson was even willing to postpone his visit for a day or two in India to meet Mother Teresa. But that didn’t work out.
Interestingly, Jackson needed a specific car with a roof that could open. At that time, the car wasn’t available in India. So, the event managers had to borrow the Toyota Privera from Anil Ambani.
Viraf Sarkari, co-director at Wizcraft, recalls that all the celebrities and industrialists wanted to meet him. “We arranged meet-and-greet sessions with him. Michael kept all his commitments. He was a gentle person and met everyone respectfully.” Sabbas echoes the sentiment that Michael was the easiest international artiste to work with as he was very humble and the staff very professional.
Both directors acknowledge that Jackson had a great spiritual connect with India. Viraf says, “We first met him in Los Angeles to confirm the concert. We were told he is very keen on performing in India. We’d presented him with a Ganesha, a Nataraj and a sherwani. And without requiring any explanation, he said, “Yes, that’s Ganesha, the god of luck.”
Even when Bal Thackeray presented a silver statue of Nataraj to Jackson, the star didn’t need the politician’s explanation and said, “Yes, I know that’s the god of dance and art.”
Finally, it was the famous sound byte from the legendary pop star that won many hearts in India when he said, “Main Hindustan aa raha hoon.”
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