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Celebrity life unplugged

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By: Mahesh Bhatt, IndiaFM
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Not many people can face it but the blunt truth is that we are all fascinated by the lives of entertainers and other celebrities. We gasp at the collapse of John and Bipasha's love story, shake our heads over the media attention Abhishek and Aishwarya's marriage received. We speculate about whether the TADA court in Mumbai will give Sanjay Dutt a jail sentence for possessing arms. In short we never get tired of playing peeping toms in the lives of celebrities.

While the celebs implore that, the 'media' must respect their right to privacy, the truth is that majority of the people out there wait with baited breath for further details about the lives of their stars, which the 'media' of course, scramble to supply.

"When you're in the public spotlight people want to know," says a leading journalist in Bollywood who writes gossip columns for more than 50 newspapers. People are fascinated with gossip and entertainment. Why? Because it takes the spotlight off their own lives. You live vicariously through other people, or you just think, Well my life isn't so bad after all."

I have seen that lot of celebrities mess up their lives because of the advice of their publicists. The mess begins when they begin to start lying to the public. My advice to my friends in Bollywood is that it's just best to be as honest as you can. When you get these publicists who are putting out these little spin' stories, and then the spin stories blow up in your faces and you begin to look like fools.

Most celebrities if they are high profile enough have had a breakup or some aspect of their personal lives have been publicly exposed and dissected by the 'media'. Now this is something which a common man dreads happening to himself. But he just laps it up when it happens to all those 'beautiful' people in Bollywood.

Despite adamant denials from both parties, news of Saif and Amrita's split leaked out weeks before the embattled couple finally issued a public statement confirming it. Now, Amrita's reticence is understandable. After all, would you want to get dumped in front of the entire world?

Recently, the entertainment community was shocked by the news of trouble brewing in the Yash Chopra camp. This so called 'fight' between the conservative father and the recluse son became a leading story in almost all the leading newspapers and TV networks.

One has observed that many people in our industry do cry "Foul!" occasionally, when the media goes to town exposing their private lives. Some of our folks get livid and go to the extent of causing physical harm to the journalist who projected their 'hidden' truth. When that happens most of the industry folks side with the celeb saying that the journalist had asked for it. The question is up to the 'media' to exercise restraint to avoid such ugliness, or should the celebs "get over it" and realize that this is the life that they've chosen?

As a rule, people who command crores of rupees per film don't garner much sympathy. Are the film people entitled to the same degree of privacy as a Mr or Miss Average or is the loss of privacy "the price of fame?" These are the questions which have repeatedly weighed on the minds of the industry folks. Certainly, there are those who maintain that the 'media' in this age of celebratization of culture goes too far in defending the public's "right to know."

Interestingly, while some stars are indeed overwhelmed by the 'media' onslaught, at the same time, they regard the lack of 'media' attention with equal trepidation. After all, if the cameras stop coming around and the press doesn't want to talk to you anymore, it probably means that your career has "fallen off." There is actually a saying in Bollywood that there is no bad publicity.

The love/hate relationship between celebrities and the media will continue unabated. Both the media and the celeb must realize that they are co-dependent for their survival. My advice to a celeb who is currently caught up in a 'media' firestorm is to take heart and just be patient, for something even more scandalous is certain to come along and soon he would be let off the hook by the media. One thing is certain in Bollywood, the spot light can not stay on any one for too long. This too shall pass. That's entertainment!!!

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