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Sanjeev Kapoor's Q n A





"I was once asked to sign on a feeding bottle"

It's difficult to imagine '90s cable television in India without the joyful face of chef Sanjeev Kapoor urging you to add salt to dishes "swad anusaar" (as per your taste).
Among the most celebrated faces of Indian cuisine, Kapoor hosted the cookery show 'Khana Khazana' for more than 17 years and is the author of over 150 best-selling cookbooks besides being a winner of several culinary awards. Right now, he is busy putting Indian cuisine high up on the world map and encouraging women to become self sufficient through the power of cooking. While we still don't know his recipe for success, Kapoor--who signs his autograph with the words "Happy cooking"--does let us in on the various weird consequences of fame: from requests to sign on marriage certificates to books written by other people

Do you remember the first autograph you ever sought? 
I think it would be when I was 10 or 11 years old. We were gifted autograph books as kids, and, among family and friends, we signed each other's books for fun.

What's the most prized autograph or piece of signed memorabilia that you own? 

It is a menu of our restaurant in Doha, Qatar signed by the great M.F. Hussain with his paint brush.

How do you generally sign autographs? Are you particular about what to say?
I normally say Happy Cooking and add a smiley :)

At the peak of 'Khana Khazana', what was the average number of autograph requests and fan mail thatyou would receive like?
Oh my God. That was crazy. At peak, we used to get 250,000 letters a week. Thankfully Zee TV’s response team used to handle that and only send a few to me.

Do you regularly answer fan mail, even now? Has the number of people writing letters to you dwindled over time? 
Social media has taken over letters in a big way. Now, we connect on a real time with millions of fans. But once in a while, I do get letters. Just last week, I received a letter from an 80-year-old lady from Ahmedabad and the letter was simply addressed to "Wonderchef Sanjeev Kapoor, Mumbai." It reached me--no address, no pin code, nothing. Indian Postal authorities are efficient and kind.

Do you recall any strange or quirky requests from fans seeking autographs? 
Oh, that could go on and on. I have had my fair share of such requests. Autographing on arm, face, neck, my photograph, their photograph, wedding card, marriage certificate, car, travel bag, books written by someone else!!

What is the strangest piece of memorabilia or object that you have been asked to sign? 
Milk bottle of a six or nine-month-old child

Why do you think the hobby of autograph seeking is dying?
Through digital media, both celebrity and the fan have easier access to each other. You really don’t need to hang on to something. Autographs have largely been replaced by selfies now.

What's your most treasured personal fanboy moment? 
Meeting Queen Elizabeth!! 

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