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Starry Zip Code

Nothing shores up prices like film star moves and purchases,especially if they are A-list stars.

According to recent newspaper reports,superstar Aamir Khan is house-hunting,looking to relocate to an apartment bigger than his present Pali Hill one. Speculation is that he might just give the Queen of Suburbs (Bandra) a miss,opting instead for a plush penthouse or one of the glass-and-chrome nouveau delights of Parel or Lower Parel in mid-town Mumbai.

News of this probable shift has created quite a stir among realty dealers; what with the real estate sector burdened by a huge inventory of unsold properties. After all,nothing shores up prices like film star moves and purchases especially if they are A-list stars. Why,when Saif Ali Khan bought himself an apartment in one of the newer,more plush apartment complexes in Bandra,prices in even the neighbouring buildings went up! And according to real estate agents,proximity (of a building) to Bachchan’s Juhu bungalow,certainly pumps up the grand total asking price,just like a sea-view on the horizon!

Film star homesteads,besides giving a shot in the arms to flagging real estate prospects,have a fascinating snob value impact on cityscapes they are set on. Bandra Bandstand in Mumbai for instance is better known as the place where Shah Rukh Khan’s Mannat and Salman Khan’s Galaxy Apartments are located while Pali Hill is earmarked as home to Aamir Khan,Dilip Kumar,Imran Khan and Ranbir Kapoor even though several others share the tony address.

Superstars and by extension,their homes,turn into landmarks in more ways than one. Anurag Kashyap’s film Murabba (one of the stories in the four-part anthology Bombay Talkies) about a young Vijay from Allahabad and his personal quest for Big B partaking a bite of the murabba – spotlights the complex ecosystem of fans,assorted hangers on,street performers,watchmen and resulting traffic snarls that a superstar’s residence creates.

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Until the 70s,successful stars and Bollywood folk got themselves a fetching bungalow or two,the mark of success but present day preferences are all about grand apartments and penthouses. Akshay Kumar,Deepika Padukone have one,as do Anushka Sharma,Priyanka Chopra,Vidya Balan,Sushmita Sen,Shahid Kapoor and Katrina Kaif. Why even those with bungalows — Shatrughan Sinha,Sanjay Dutt,Hema Malini,Dharmendra and Rishi Kapoor among others — have already traded them or are willing to swap for swanky high rises built upon the remains of their torn down bungalows. Dev Sa’ab’s bungalow in Bandra was iconic in stature till he gave it up for the construction of a new building and now,after his death,it is just a faint memory from the past.

Nevertheless,these starry signposts wherever they may be located,besides being tourist attractions,are as effective as the GPRS when navigating the city. “Bachchan ke bangle se left,Shah Rukh ke ghar ke peechey or Salman ke ghar ke paas”— are oft-exchanged directions; Mumbai’s glamour compass if you will.

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