By: Deepa Gahlot, IndiaFM
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Our top stars, Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khah, Hrithik Roshan, Salman Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Akshay Kumar, Aishwarya Rai, Kareena Kapoor, Preity Zinta, Rani Mukherji, are seen all over the place - TV and in print ads endorsing brands, walking the ramp in some designer's clothes, attending events as brand ambassadors, performing on stage at awards functions, dancing at high-society weddings or blinging up some charity. When do they have time to do their real work?
The level of their exposure is alarmingly high. They make huge amounts of money, reach dizzying heights of fame, but isn't this all in some way strangely unstarry? It makes one feel nostalgic about yesteryears' stars who were never seen in public in casual clothes or without make-up; they never went too close to the public. But didn't that aura of mystery somehow add to a star's allure and longevity? Doesn't the term 'star' to describe a popular film actor automatically signify someone who is high up above the commonplace-one who can't be seen, touched, reached easily?
If some of those supernovas, instead of commanding their fans' admiration and awe, kneel down and exhort them to buy jewellery, watches, soft drinks, biscuits, noodles, soaps, pens, cigarettes, tea, booze, mosquito coils, underwear and paan masala, don't they lose a bit of their glitter?
Forget Hollywood where no top star needs to stoop to sell ordinary products to the public or dance on stage (though some of them do ads in Japan hoping nobody at home will see them), some of our own older stars could be neck deep in debt, but they'd never ever do an ad film or demand money to do a charity show. The fact that they were so distant ensured that they are still idolized by fans. People still refer to them as 'saab' and 'ji'. Today's stars invite familiarity and everybody calls them by their first names and even pet names (Duggu, Bebo, Chi Chi, etc)
It has also become necessary for the stars to take advantage of that shorter reign at the top and, to use the clichÉ, make hay while the sun shines. If advertisers think that endorsement of a product by a major star would help sales, they will offer stars sums of money they cannot turn down.
This is the best time to be a celebrity. Stars-second and third rung ones too-- are needed to generate interest in print publications, TV shows, websites, charity events and even weddings. The Indian public-- especially NRIs - is crazy about stars. There is a demand for them all over the place. Whether the demand is there because the media has fuelled it, or the media chases stars because there is a demand for them, is a debatable issue. But the short-term benefit in terms of money, exposure and popularity goes to the stars. It does not necessarily translate to box-office success, however, except for one or two, no star can even ensure an opening for a film today-as the failure of films like Salaam-e-Ishq and Umrao Jaan (at the height of the Abhishek Bachchan-Aishwarya Rai romance buzz) proves.
In these hype-driven times, there is also a problem of out of sight being out of mind. If a star does not have an in-your-face presence all the time, he/she is likely to be forgotten. Two of our biggest stars Dharmendra and Rajesh Khanna, and a fine actor like Rishi Kapoor are cases in point. If you don't stand at the street corner and tom-tom your achievements, nobody else will do it for you.
Overexposure is never good for any star's career, but underexposure is equally dicey-it's tough to gauge when the public's curiosity turns to boredom.
Kab Se Ho Gaye Dildar Censorwale?
Subhash K Jha speaks on Dharm