April 26: When Aamir Khan stepped out of his hotel in Varanasi at 1am this morning to hug an auto-rickshaw driver, it wasn't a movie scene being shot.
The actor was just making good his promise to real-life "yaar" (friend) Ramlakhan Paswan, whose auto he had hired during a trip in 2009, to attend his son's wedding.
Yet last night's events were merely the climax to a three-year-old story replete with the ingredients of a Bollywood pot-boiler: a rich and famous man in disguise, an unlikely friendship, and a meeting with long-lost relatives.
Aamir, 47, joined the baraat, repeatedly stepping out of his car to greet people as the group travelled to the wedding venue at Mahamurganj, 1km from his hotel.
The mad rush to the marriage dais that Aamir's presence prompted caused the bamboo structure to collapse, throwing the actor and the newly-weds to the ground. But Aamir brushed away Ramlakhan's embarrassed apologies.
"The arrangements here are good, and I wish the bride and groom a great future life; especially the bride," the star twinkled, handing Vijeta a present. But the bride said she had already received the best wedding gift possible.
"It's like a fairytale. Aamir Khan's presence is the biggest wedding gift I have received," the 22-year-old graduate said, standing beside groom Rajeev, a management graduate working for a private firm in Jaipur.
Aamir said he had met Ramlakhan, 55, during his 2009 tour of Varanasi to promote his film 3 Idiots. The actor had another reason to visit the town: his mother was born there and he wanted to locate his maternal grandparents' house and meet relatives lost in the mists of time.
When Aamir hired Ramlakhan's auto at Varanasi railway station on a November morning, he was disguised as an old man in a monkey cap.
Ramlakhan remembers taking his fare around the narrow alleyways of Varanasi and eventually locating the house near Lauhra Veer Chowk, using his knowledge of the town. Aamir continued to travel in Ramlakhan's auto through his three-day trip.
It was on the last day that he revealed his identity and requested Ramlakhan to keep it a secret till he had left town.
Back in Mumbai, Aamir sent airline tickets to Ramlakhan so he could attend the premiere of 3 Idiots.
On April 14 this year, however, the auto driver put the friendship to its severest test so far by turning up in Mumbai with a wedding invite.
"I was surprised to hear from my secretary that a man from Varanasi had come to meet me. Realising it was Ramlakhan, I immediately called him to my room and introduced him to my family," Amir said in Varanasi today.
Ramlakhan told The Telegraph over the phone that the actor had initially excused himself. "Aamir saab at first said it would be difficult for him to attend the wedding and promised to send a CD with a message for the bride and the groom. But just two days before the wedding, he said he would be coming himself."
Aamir denied that his presence at the wedding was a ploy to promote his upcoming TV show, Satyamev Jayate. "I'm here simply to attend my friend's son's marriage," he said between sips of lassi.