Cast: Michael Jackson Director: Kenny Ortega Rating: ***
This is it. The moment has arrived. For weeks there has been widespread speculation around the actual content of the musical documentary on Michael Jackson.
While director Kenny Ortega had announced that the film would give a sneak peek of Jackson's rehearsals for his concert series by the same name ("This Is It"), naysayers wondered if they would indeed get to see what was promised.
Conspiracy theories about a body double being used to make this film were all around as also that the movie "This Is It" was yet another means to cash in on the popularity of the legend who died June 25.
But this is not the case. The two-hour film features Jackson the way he was and there is no duplicate filling in for him. Yes, the horror of his failing health is pretty much visible in his weak body structure. However, what is certainly not missing is the man's energy, passion, determination and zeal to give it all to his fans.
"Love you all" and "God bless you" are mouthed frequently by the pop star who got his rehearsals captured on camera for his personal library. Now when the man is no more, these videos have been cut and edited to give audiences something to cheer about.
Seeing a parallel global release, the film captures Jackson in perhaps not his full glory since the spunk created in front of live audiences is always different from on-stage rehearsals.
However, what truly shocks is the fact that the man was pretty much alive, kicking and raring to go for his comeback concert. After seeing his moves, it is hard to believe that his health had deteriorated to such an extent that he met with a sudden death soon after.
"This Is It" is surely a treat for Jackson fans. For those who aren't, the film doesn't quite give any insight into the man's life since it is assumed that "This Is It" is mainly for those who were closely following his music and were prepared for the concert. So, if anyone is looking for a documentary on his life per se, then this really isn't it!
However, for those who were looking forward to the concert, this is not really a bad bargain. After all there are hit numbers like "Beat It", "Billie Jean" and many more that find a place in it. This becomes all the more interesting since Jackson comes up with new moves for these songs while making them further contemporary and presenting them to today's audiences.
The only thing that one misses as the film concludes is some more footage around comments from the people associated with the show. There are a few at the beginning but otherwise the film begins and ends like a concert video.
That was the intent of the feature for sure but it would have helped had audiences been given to know a little more about Michael Jackson - the man and not just Michael Jackson - the performer.
Michael Jackson increased his drug use after the child sex allegations piled up and he used to cry often, says the late pop star's former manager Dieter Wiesner who also said that Jackson was in a "pathetic condition" before he died, battling drinks and weakness.
Wiesner claims that Jackson increased his drug use as the child sex allegations piled up, thesun.co.uk reported. Wiesner also reveals that Jackson cried often because he thought no one loved him and that his addiction really worsened after the Martin Bashir documentary in 2003 where he was questioned about sleeping with children.
"It broke him. It killed him. He took a long time to die, but it started that night. Previously the drugs were a crutch, but after that they became a necessity. They got him through his days and insomnia-riddled nights. And the people who gave them knew what they were doing. They should never have been around him," said Weisner.
"Those drugs and the 'Jesus Juice' - Michael's name for wine - began to claim him. I'll never forget the day at Neverland when he walked into the kitchen to eat. He was off his face, he couldn't even bring the fork up to his mouth. It was like watching a clumsy robot. There he was, one of the most talented guys on the planet, unable to even eat because he was so doped up," he added.
Weisner joined Jackson in 1996-97 and says during that time also he used to take drugs.
"There were drugs then. He said they were for stress. I noticed those man-child qualities - the boy who wants to be loved on one side, the business and musical genius on the other. And the drugs moved in to destroy both," he said.
"One day he sat down and just started to cry. He had $500 million in the bank and sold the biggest album of all time. I told him he had everything to live for. There was an inner melancholy to him. Once I asked about the pills. He said, 'I get the best ideas when I'm in this situation'.
"He really thought the drugs made him creative when all they were doing was killing him. When paranoid on drugs, he was scared social services would take his children away," he added.
Memorial events likely to unite his one billion fans
Pop legend Michael Jackson's body could be displayed in a glass coffin to allow fans from across the world to say their final goodbyes to the late superstar.
The 50-year-old singer's family is discussing the possibility of placing his body in a see-through casket to allow his fans to say their goodbyes following his death last Thursday (June 25), reports contactmusic.com.
The idea has reportedly split his siblings and parents because his mother Katherine and father Joe are devout Jehovah's witnesses and according to the faith, it is important to bury bodies quickly after death.
"The idea is causing internal stress within the family. The glass casket idea would create so much public interest it would take time to organise. People would make the pilgrimage from the other side of the world. The question that keeps coming back is, 'What would Michael have wanted?'," said a source close to the family.
The family, on the other hand, are reportedly hoping to hold a global funeral celebration for one billion of the singer's fans.
Dozens of memorial events will be held in cities across the globe at the same time to allow everyone to unite for a universal celebration of his life.
A senior Los Angeles Police chief said: "We are preparing for an event of historic proportions. We will be co-operating closely with the family once they have decided where to hold the funeral."
His father Joe Jackson has however announced that the King of Pop's funeral will not be held until the results of the second autopsy are released, as he suspects "foul play" in his son's death.
According to other reports, Jackson’s body will return to his former Neverland Ranch estate in Santa Barbara, California for a public viewing on Friday (July 3).
Jackson bought the estate in 1987 and turned it into an amusement park. He moved out of the mansion in 2005 after local authorities swept through his private sanctuary looking for evidence to use against the singer in his child molestation case.
Following his acquittal, he insisted he'd never return to live at Neverland, but he retained a stake in the property up to his death.
Though funeral details are yet to be announced, a private memorial service is scheduled for Sunday (July 5) according to CNN.
Rudy Clay, the Mayor of the singer's hometown of Gary, Indiana, has publicly asked the Jackson family to consider burying or cremating the pop star in his birthplace.
Clay has told Chicago radio station WGN that he expects Jackson's body will be taken to Gary for a memorial service at Steel Works ball park he is planning for next week.
He says, "I believe that his body will lie in state in Gary, Indiana."
Clay's spokeswoman Lalola Burns tells CNN, "The Mayor had spoken with a contact of the Jackson family and expressed our interest in having that to be a part of the history of this great family (sic)."
Jackson's father, Joe, returned to Gary in 2008 to discuss plans for a Jackson museum with the Mayor.
Michael Jackson was haunted by the fear that someone was trying to kill him in the final months of his life.
The pop superstar suffered a cardiac arrest and died on June 25 after reportedly taking a cocktail of prescription pills at his home in Los Angeles - but paranoia may have led to the pain of his final days.
Jackson family lawyer Brian Oxman tells the upcoming issue of Life & Style magazine, "He feared somebody wanted to kill him.
"He was concerned people would kill him to somehow try to take control of the Beatles back catalogue."
Reports suggest Jackson may have left the Beatles songs he owned to Sir Paul McCartney in his will. The catalogue of hits were one of the singer's leading assets.
Meanwhile, close friends of the King of Pop have come forward with tales of the singer's final days, suggesting Jackson had been ill for weeks before his death.
One pal tells America's In Touch magazine, "He seemed to be taking a turn for the worse. Some of us suspected he was abusing powerful painkillers."
The source claims Jackson excused himself during a dinner party at a friend’s Bel Air home in mid-June - and asked to lay down.
The friend adds, "Michael was gaunt and had no appetite."
The Los Angeles coroner's office conducted a three-hour autopsy on Friday (26Jun09) and ruled out foul play in the Thriller star's death.
A final verdict will not be available for up to six weeks as officials await the results of toxicology, neuropathology and pulmonary tests to determine the exact cause of death.
Jackson's family members have called for a second independent autopsy. The results are pending.
Pop legend Michael Jackson's body will be taken to his beloved Neverland ranch where grieving fans can say their goodbyes and it is expected to be buried there this weekend.
His coffin will be driven through Los Angeles before making a 130-mile journey to Neverland, site of the superstar's former fantasy home, reported thesun.co.uk.
A fairytale carriage will bear Jackson's coffin on the last trip to his home in Santa Barbara County. The white horse-drawn coach is being kept under wraps until the moment comes when the singer's coffin is expected to be tenderly lifted on to it.
Vast crowds are expected to watch the King of Pop's coffin taken through the streets of Los Angeles, starting at 10 a.m. local time on Friday (July 3). A 30-car motorcade will then make the drive to the remote 2,800-acre site of Neverland.
"The family want to give him a really special send off. They want the carriage to be a surprise for everyone. They want it to add a wow factor to the day. It is being kept hidden and is top secret," said a source.
Los Angeles Police Department are planning a huge security and traffic control operation.
"Michael always said Neverland kept him young. It seems fitting. On Sunday there will be a memorial service for his family and close friends to mourn in private," said the source.
Jackson bought Neverland in 1988, naming his hideaway after the home world of Peter Pan, where children never grew up. He made it a playground paradise, with Ferris wheel, roller-coaster, bumper cars and zoo.
It fell into disrepair after cash-strapped Jacko abandoned it in 2003 while dogged by child abuse allegations. But it will be transformed for his farewell.
MICHAEL JACKSON was so worried about his looming comeback tour he often forgot to eat, according to the show's promoter.
The King Of Pop was booked to do 50 gigs at London's O2 arena, kicking off later this month and running into next year, and was in vigorous rehearsals for the spectacular shows before his death last week.
The show's director Kenny Ortega and AEG Live's boss Randy Phillips were keeping an eye on the star's food intake in the days leading up to his death - and they were shocked by how little Jackson was eating as he geared up for the mammoth run of gigs.
Phillips tells Britain's Daily Mirror, "He used to forget to eat because he was so focused and Kenny Ortega and I used to cut up his food and physically feed him."
But Phillips is adamant Jackson was fighting fit - despite his erratic eating habits.
He adds, "Frail, he certainly wasn't. He was always very thin but not to the point where he couldn't perform. He really kicked into high gear and was totally engaged in the last two weeks. Before that he was nervous and not really coming to rehearsals. But that was his schedule and that was how he wanted to do things.
"Michael did not have a gruelling schedule - he had Michael's schedule. He didn't need to rehearse that much. He was so talented that he didn't need to. When he started dancing, he was dancing better than the best 20 year old dancers in the world. He was that good."
Late King of Pop Michael Jackson reportedly did not want to look like his “bullying” dad, and that is why he bleached his skin and butchered his face with surgery.
Jackson’s pal John Randy Taraborrelli, a journalist who has known him for 40 years, has revealed that he was petrified he would grow into an identical version of Joe.
Taraborrelli’s statement has come at a time when, amid speculation over whether Jacko really fathered his three children, rumours have started to circulate that the star’s hatred of his violent dad stopped him from reproducing, as he feared they would look like their grandfather.
Taraborrelli, 53, said that Jackson was traumatised by regular beatings from his dad, now 79. “His motive for cosmetic surgery was not, as many surmised, too look more like his idol Diana Ross,” the Daily Star quoted him as saying.
“It was so that he would look less like his father – the man who had so mistreated him and whose strong, broad-nosed face he saw looking back at him from the mirror,” he added.
As Joe managed his kids to success as The Jackson 5, he would punish anyone fluffing up in rehearsals for big shows.
Since Michael led the group, he inevitably took most of the flak. “The violence worsened as the boys got older and the music business became their life,” Taraborrelli said.
“When he was late for one rehearsal, Joseph came up from behind and shoved him. Michael fell and was badly bruised.
“Michael was spirited enough to fight back, once he hurled a shoe at his father but Joseph screamed: ‘Boy, you just signed your own death warrant.’
“He then held Michael upside down by one leg and pummelled him over and over,” he added.
However, said the journalist, Jackon’s obsession with surgery ruined his looks.
Taraborrelli said: “His appearance was becoming increasingly bizarre. He had also begun using a skin-bleaching cream, which he bought by the crate. Gone was the brown-skinned, broad-nosed youth with an
Afro whose natural charisma charmed an audience.”
The journalist added: “In his place was a fragile, doll-like man it was impossible not to stare at in disbelief. He had achieved his goal of transforming himself, but at a barely imaginable price. In the public’s eyes, all this made him not only a freak but a joke.”
Hrithik Roshan seems to be in a sombre mood of late. The actor was busy shooting for an ad in Singapore when his dancing inspiration Michael Jackson passed away. Of course, the actor grieved deeply. Hrithik adored the King of Pop. And when we called him up, there was little he could say. “It’s unbelievable, it hasn’t yet sunk it!” he told us. “He was an inspiration to every entertainer. People wanted to become dancers just by watching Michael Jackson him perform. ‘Thriller’ was my absolute favourite, and still is... ”
Hrithik Roshan’s sister, Sunaina, shared with us, “Hrithik has been a die-hard fan of Michael Jackson since he was a child. Hrithik must be 8-9 years old when he used to imitate Jackson’s moonwalk. I remember the moment ‘Thriller’ used to play Hrithik used to be up doing a Michael Jackson. It was Michael Jackson’s music videos that introduced Hrithik to western dancing. Hrithik used to do a Michael Jackson whichever party he went to.”
But in showbiz... the ball keeps rolling, and the show must go on... “And Michael Jackson, too, will continue to live in every beat of music,” concludes Hrithik.
Next Tuesday's public memorial service for Michael Jackson will be an event of "extraordinary" scope that could present unique challenges for the city of L.A, officials said on Friday. Read on to find out how to get tickets to the memorial or watch it on TV!
Registration for the memorial tickets is taking place at the Staples Center Web site until 6 p.m. today. As of 5 p.m. on Friday, 524,330 people had registered for tickets to the Michael Jackson memorial service. Then, on Sunday, 8,750 people will be chosen at random to receive two tickets apiece.
On "Larry King Live" on Friday night, Kenny Ortega told listeners that he will be directing the program for the memorial service. He will meet with AEG about the program, but he says his direction will be guided by the family.
Also on Friday, L.A. City Councilwoman Jan Perry called the public memorial -- which takes place next Tuesday at 10 a.m. at the Staples Center -- a special event "with the potential to impact public safety." She urged fans to consider watching the service on TV, via a world-wide video feed being made available to the networks.
Tim Leiweke, the president and CEO of sports/entertainment corporation AEG, said 17,500 free tickets are being released to the legions of fans expected in town. Eleven thousand tickets are for the service at L.A.'s Staples Center, while 6,500 more are for seats at the nearby Nokia Theater, where the event is being simulcast.
Leiweke said no tickets are being sold, and there will not be a funeral procession at the service.
Keep checking back here for the latest Michael Jackson news.
Youngsters said to be inconsolable – but what will happen to them without their father
The death of Michael Jackson is said to have left his three young children distraught.
The King Of Pop is survived by Prince Michael, 12, Paris, 11, and seven-year-old Prince Michael II, known fondly by the singer as Blanket.
His sudden death is expected to spark a frought legal battle over who gets custody of his three children.
The singer was pronounced dead aged 50 at a hospital in Los Angeles last night. He was taken there in a coma following his collapse at home.
It is not yet known who will take care of them, but a source close to his family said his ex-wife Debbie Rowe is expected to receive initial custody while long-term arrangements are sorted out.
Nor is it clear what their financial situation will be. Although Jackson ranked alongside the Beatles and Elvis Presley in terms of his earnings, in recent years it has been rumoured he had amassed huge debts of an estimated $60million.
He had planned a series of comeback concerts at London's O2 Arena, which would have cleared his debts.
Prince Michael and Paris were the product of Jackson's second marriage to Rowe, a nurse, in 1996.
After the couple divorced in 1999, Jackson took on sole responsibility for their children's upbringing.
There was some controversy surrounding the move and questions were asked as to whether Rowe would receive access rights.
But he was quoted as saying she was happy togive up the children to Michael completely, saying: "They're his kids, not mine. They're his kids".
Michael was so fiercely protective of them he took an unusual approach to protecting them from the media glare by covering their faces.
His third child, Prince Michael II, was born to a mystery surrogate mother he never even met.
Earlier this month, Michael was photographed with his two older children in Los Angeles looking healthier than he has in recent months.
His sudden and tragic death has sent shockwaves across the world.
Majority of them have been known for their dance moves. And most of them have been inspired by the 'King of Pop'. Generation X remembers Michael Jackson as he takes a journey to the heavenly abode.
Hurman Baweja - "I can't believe he is no more. It's too much of a shock. I was looking forward to seeing him on stage in London in August. For me he will always be alive. I have seen him live on stage before, I hear him practically everyday either in my car or on my iPod. He is my dancing Guru whom I have watched and learnt from. He is a genius. Here is to a Legend. May his soul rest in peace! He will be missed!"
Celina Jaitly - "It's shocking. I was planning to go for his last concert to London. I have been a die hard fan and I still can't believe that he is gone."
Neha Dhupia - "I am sad beyond belief. It's the biggest loss ever for the world of music and entertainment. There will never be anyone else like him."
Eesha Koppikhar - "You created history with your music. I will always remember you as the 'King of Pop'. As rightly stated by all the news channels, 25th June will always be remembered as a black day in the world of music."
Mugdha Godse - "Words fail to express my feelings. I still can't believe the news."
Neil Nitin Mukesh - "The man who taught the world to dance has left us with his memories. It's a great loss!"
Mahie Gill - "His death is indeed an irreparable loss to the world of music."
Neetu Chandra - "Michael Jackson's demise is an end of an era. With him, a part of music is dead."
Linda Aresenio - "Dearest Michael Jackson, we are all definitely hit deeply that you left so soon. You have truly impacted and inspired our lives across the globe. You have built a bridge among family, friends and cultures though your music and dance. You are a legend among the greats. God bless you always and forever. We will always love and miss you."
Priyanka Kothari - "It's hard to believe that he is no more. I am feeling so depressed ever since I heard this sad news. Michael's music and dance will never die."
Payal Rohatgi - "I consider Michael's sad demise as a great loss to the music lovers like me. He was truly the 'king of pop' and dying at an age of 50 is very shocking. I hope his soul rests in peace. We shall always remember his blockbuster hit 'Thriller'!"
Madhavan - "Oh God, it's hard to believe. It's the end of an era; beginning of immortality!"
Sanjay Suri - "It's sad to know that the 'King of Pop' is no more. He is the man who started it all. He ruled the 80s and the 90s and raised the bar through his great LIVE shows, amazing pop music and videos. It's sad to know that the world's greatest entertainer is no more. He surely will be missed."
Udita Goswami - "May his soul rest in peace. He wasn't the icon he used to be anymore after all the mess he got into. He was still trying to get out of it though. Maybe this was the time. His music will always be missed. And yes, there won't be another Michael Jackson ever!"
Chitrangda Singh - "I am surprisingly much more affected than I thought I could be by the demise of a star. I am crying in my heart. It's all the memories he has given us. He was a rare genius. Wish we could save him!"
Adhyayan Suman - "The 'King of Pop' is no more but nobody will ever be able to replace Michael Jackson. He was the best. May his soul rest in peace!"
Family and fans will be horrified by his appalling state
The autopsy details of pop star Michael Jackson gives a horrifying picture of the singer at the time of his death - he was a virtual skeleton as he was barely eating, there were only pills in his stomach. He was bald, bruised and also had broken ribs and needle wounds.
His hips, thighs and shoulders were riddled with needle wounds believed to be the result of injections of narcotic painkillers, given three times a day for years.
And multiple surgery scars were said to be the legacy of at least 13 cosmetic operations. Experts found the distressing evidence of Jackson's physical decline while investigating his startling death in Los Angeles last week, reported thesun.co.uk.
The examination showed the 5'10" star, once famed for his on-stage athleticism, had plunged to a "severely emaciated" state. It is understood anorexic Jackson had been eating just one meagre meal a day.
Pathologists found his stomach empty aside from partially-dissolved pills he took before the painkiller injection which stopped his heart. Samples were sent for toxicology tests.
Having lost virtually all his hair, the pop legend was wearing a wig when he died and pathologists said little more than "peach fuzz" covered his scalp.
A scarred section of skin above his left ear was entirely bald, apparently the result of a 1984 accident when his hair caught fire as he filmed an ad for Pepsi.
Jackson suffered several broken ribs as frantic rescuers pumped his chest after he collapsed in cardiac arrest. Four injection sites were found above or near the King of Pop's heart. All appeared to result from attempts to pump adrenaline directly into the organ in a failed bit to restart it.
Three of the injections had penetrated the heart wall causing damage, but a fourth missed and hit one of the 50-year-old star's ribs.
The autopsy also found unexplained bruising on Jackson's knees and on the fronts of both shins. And there were cuts on his back, indicating a recent fall.
Jackson's once handsome face bore a network of plastic surgery scars, while the bridge to his nose had vanished and its right side had partially collapsed.
As inquiries into the tragedy focussed on the star's personal physician Conrad Murray, a source close to the Jackson entourage said: "Michael's family and fans will be horrified when they realise the appalling state he was in. His doctors and the hangers-on stood by as he self-destructed. Somebody is going to have to pay."
Murray, a cardiologist, was thought to have given Jackson the final injection of painkiller Demerol.
A second autopsy demanded by the Jackson family was carried out at a secret location on Saturday after the first ruled out foul play.
Murray was hired just 11 days ago by AEG Live, the firm masterminding Jackson's 50 concerts at London's O2 Arena, earlier scheduled to start next month.
Sources claimed the family was preparing a multi-million-dollar lawsuit against the cardiologist.
MICHAEL JACKSON's entourage waited for up to 50 minutes to call emergency services after he collapsed, it has been claimed.
Jackson biographer Stacy Brown has spoken to the King of Pop's family since his sudden death on Thursday, and reveals their concern at the delay.
Brown claims the star collapsed in the living room of his rented California home at 11.30am local time, but instead of calling 911, his security guard Tippy called Jackson's father Joseph, while his doctor Conrad Murray administered CPR.
He tells the New York Post, "Joseph screamed at them to call for help. A huge commotion ensued about why 911 wasn't being called and why he wasn't getting help."
Emergency services were eventually called at 12.21pm. Jackson was declared dead at UCLA Medical Center at 2.26pm, but it has been reported that he was already dead when paramedics arrived on the scene.
Bollywood dance choreographer Remo who was on the panel of popular dance show Dance India Dance has planned a memorial concert for pop icon Michael Jackson in the city.
“Michael Jackson has played a very important role in my life. Where I come from, I wasn’t fortunate enough to have formal dance training so it was his dance videos that inspired me and taught me all that I have learned today,” said an emotional Remo when StarBoxOffice contacted the talented choreographer.
The choreographer who has planned a concert in the pop icon’s memory is in talks with renowned musicians and dancers from the industry who will be part of the mammoth concert.
Remo said, “People from the music and dance industry who have had the opportunity of meeting and interacting with Jackson such as Farah Khan and Prabhu Deva will perform at the event. Many choreographers and dancers who have been inspired by him will also perform at the show.”
When we quizzed him about the songs that will be played at the concert, he replied, “We will only perform MJ’s songs and singers such as Sunidhi Chauhan and Shaan will try to sing his songs as well. Though no one can sing like him we will try our level best, also there are many bands who have made their living by only singing his songs, they too will perform at the concert.”
When we contacted Sunidhi Chauhan, the singer was ecstatic and said, “I am very happy to be a part of the show and the talks are still on at the moment.” The show will also dedicate its proceeds to charity. Remo confirmed, “Michael Jackson always had a soft corner for children and we will make sure that the proceeds of the show goes to underprivileged children.”
On him reprising his position in Dance India Dance 2, the choreographer stated, “I will be reprising my position on the panel and I wish the others too return on the show. The dancers of Dance India Dance will also perform at the show.” MJ bid adieu to the world but his music will indeed live on forever.
The King of Pop, Michael Jackson had a tryst with this celluloid city 13 years ago, when he mesmerised thousands of Mumbaikars with his performance at a concert. Jackson performed at a packed concert here in 1996.
The event was organised by Shiv Udyog Sena, an outfit floated by then Shiv Sena leader Raj Thackeray with the objective of providing jobs to 27 lakh youth in Maharashtra.
The pop star arrived in Mumbai on October 30 and was greeted in traditional Indian style by actress Sonali Bendre, who wore a traditional Maharashtrian saree for the occasion. The actress welcomed Jackson by performing aarti and applying tilak on his forehead, at the Mumbai airport.
The pop star, when being driven in a 20-car motorcade from the air port, stopped his Toyota to meet the urchins lined up along the highway to catch a glimpse of him.
Jackson visited Sena chief Bal Thackeray's residence, Matoshree, in suburban Bandra. The Thackerays presented him with a silver tabla and tanpura.
During his stay at The Oberoi Hotel, Jackson surprised the entire staff by mingling freely among his fans, who thronged at the hotel to catch a glimpse of the King of Pop. "He greeted his fans with smiles and by blowing kisses and shook hands with as many of them as possible," hotel sources recount.
During his stay in Mumbai, Jackson relished several Indian cuisine, including South Indian and Mughlai. While the pop star had masala dosa and spicy alu paranthas with butter in breakfasts, his other meals mainly comprised of butter naans, butter chicken, tandoori chicken and spicy vegetable curries, sources in Oberoi Hotel said.
Children from orphanages were invited to meet and play with him at a high tea organised at the hotel pool side. He gave them gifts and chocolates that he had brought with him.
The hotel sources had then said there was a party for kids organised in his room as well, on the day of the show itself. About 50 children were invited and he ordered cakes and burgers for them.
The over two-hour long performance on November 1 at the Andheri Sports Complex was a spectacular event, with fans lapping up every moment. For the show, Jackson flew in equipment in three Russian cargo planes.
Jackson's Mumbai tour had also triggered controversy with critics questioning Sena's notions of culture. They saw something alien in the values the singer represented and said "Who is Michael Jackson and how on earth is he linked to Hindu culture."
Bal Thackeray responded the critics saying "Jackson is a great artist, and we must accept him as an artist. His movements are terrific. Not many people can dance that way. You will end up breaking your bones."
"And, well what is culture? He represents certain values in America, which India should not have any qualms in accepting. We would like to accept that part of America that is represented by Jackson," he had said.
As a teenager chasing pop music in 1980, it was always a tough ask to get our hands on new music back then. Me? I knew someone who knew someone who was cabin crew with Air India so there would be LPs filtering in every now and then. “Have you heard Michael Jackson”? she asked.
“Never” I replied, instinctively picturing a young white dude, maybe like David Cassidy. “But did you get my Billy Joel LP?” I asked.
“Forget Billy Joel, this guy is much better” she said, as she gave me a copy of ‘Off The Wall’.
Oh no! It’s a black dude! “So, is it like Pink Floyd’s The Wall” I enquired.
She smirked, told me I would thank her tomorrow, and left.
I have to admit that I was attracted to disco music for an extremely short time and playing ‘Off The Wall’ was socially embarrassing for me in 1980. For someone into The Police, REO Speedwagon and Floyd, the gender-bender Jackson vibe was just too cold. Plus, where are the guitars man? With just a single spin, the LP was back in its smiling cover, replaced by the reassuring crunch of AC/DC’s Back in Black.
Cut to 1984: Doordarshan is somehow showing western music videos once a week. The whole gang is sitting in front of the TV, dying to know what exactly our rock stars look like. Billie Jean comes on. And within 30 seconds, all of us knew we were watching something special. The loud banter suddenly died. Open mouthed we watched this matchstick man dance like no person before. And was this even a dance? Then came the moonwalk step. Shucks! How the heck did he do that? All of us are on our feet now, the TV volume was turned up and we started clapping and dancing. Of course it was over all too soon, but the man had made his mark on everyone who absorbed that video. Thriller soon occupied the cassette shelves of everybody, while one of us was even the owner of that red Michael Jackson jacket. Me? I started showing my socks, since the moonwalk was just impossible to do.
Cut to 1993: MTV was part of our life before the channel discovered Bollywood. And Michael had just released ‘Dangerous’. By now, the singer had already started spending his millions on plastic surgery, and was slowly mutating into a gender all his own. And the first single ‘Black Or White’ drove its message of racial harmony in a easily missed twist of reverse irony. Here was a black man’s body trapped in a white man’s mind who was living out his fantasy. The nose sharpened, the lips thinned and the skin lightening was a God sent ailment. What is he saying in the song? That it’s OK to alter one’s looks as long as one is a good human being? Or, as long as one is a good human being, why should a change of look matter anyway?
Cut to 1996: Encouraged by visits from Bryan Adams, Bon Jovi and er, Deep Purple, Michael Jackson’s 1996 History Tour decides to perform in Bombay and Delhi. This still is a huge event as far as rock shows go in India. As seen on You-Tube now, this is the show that blew everyone away with its so far unseen combination of choreography, sound and lasers. To really understand how big Michael Jackson was, you just have to recall that in a show of incontrovertible hypocrisy, even perennial pop-culture vigilante Bal Thackeray invited him to his place. There’s really no meatier yardstick to gauge his popularity than this, is there?
Cut to 2009: Inspite of all the allegations, public humiliation, near bankruptcy and a life where he could never blow his nose again, Michael Jackson will only be remembered for the artist he was. He was on the verge of yet another comeback attempt with a staggering 50 sold out shows starting July. He was rehearsing his legs off, recording new songs and one cannot even imagine the kind of show he would put up to prove his point. But in a sudden twist of fate, we have not only lost an entertainer who reached higher than anyone else, but an inspiration to all for whom the world is a stage.