Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Business as usual

Sometimes, just sometimes when I stop thinking about myself, I wonder what a celebrity's life is really like. I come across them so often in my line of work, but most of the time I am looking at them from my perspective. Like, how long it took me to get them on the phone to answer some silly question, what they must be thinking at being woken up in the middle of the afternoon (after an international flight) by a frantic request (by me) for photographs and how they must have cursed me, what a bitch this one was and what a pompous ass that one was etc. It's only rarely that I stop to look at it from their point of view, really think about what goes on in their lives. I thought about this yesterday on my way home in an auto (really, the way I'm getting obsessed with this word, a Google search on 'auto' will lead people straight to this blog. Not bad, really) and was more puzzled than ever.

First, let me clarify. I am not talking here about the kind of celebrities who were reared to be celebrities, who knew what it was to be one because they had seen Mummyji and Papaji be celebrities and knew that no matter how ugly they were, there was still a fair chance they would get their own shots at celebrity-hood. You know the guys I mean. In fact, these days you can't even really tell how ugly they were to begin with. Neither am I talking about the designer-socialite types who, in spite of frantic Page 3 attendances, are still so next-door.

I was thinking of the celebrities who have normal childhoods like yours or mine, with the usual growing up no-one-gives-me-attention pains. In fact, what started off this remarkably unselfish (for me) chain of thought was reading Great Bong's post on the sting operation of the decade. Now this Tanushree Dutta, I thought, what does it feel like to be born in a small town, go to a regular, rather small-time school, be brought up by regular middle-class Bengali parents and suddenly find yourself being lusted after by most men in the country? (If you happen to be a man and don't lust after her, blame it on the abysmal quality of the men in my life).

Now why her, you may think. Well, because we come from the same pocket of cosmopolitanism, Jamshedpur, (no sniggers, please) and amazingly, we went to the same school as well. She was a few batches junior to me, but knowing my school as I do, it seems incredible to me that someone with that background could one day become a terribly confident exhibitionist. From there, I went to how her parents must react to her celebrity status and to the fact that she seems to have chosen as a prototype not a Nandita Das but that Jhunjhunwala girl from Kaanta Laga. Here I am, cringing while writing a story on modern couples because I'll have to write on stuff like lack of sex and extra marital affairs and my parents will read it, and here's this girl, baring her bosom for
all to see. Just imagine!

Now, don't get me wrong. I have no problems with T Dutta cavorting around in handkerchiefs -- in fact, I rose vociferously to her defence when my mom started telling me all the nasty things they were saying about her in school (and these the same people calling her a chip off the old block and what not when she became Miss India). I'm just talking about the invisible ways your parents continue to influence you even when you are well past the age of caring a damn about what they think. But apparently, being a celebrity, and especially an actress, removes these irritating roadblocks to immortality.

Then there is all this getting used to being recognised everywhere. It happens to all of them – top line, middle line, even the dregs. Somewhere, to some people, they are really big. How DO these people deal with it? I mean, on a daily basis? Take this girl, for instance. There must have been a time when she could just be a young person enjoying the Pujas, but this time, Jamshedpur was all agog because she had given a quote saying she would try to be there for a day. If she had made it, they would probably have attempted to seat her next to the idol or even in place of it. What must it be like not to be able to indulge in a bit of nostalgic revisiting without attracting noisome attention? To not be able to walk down to the corner store to buy a toothbrush? To have to take journalists seriously and repeat the lines the director fed you a zillion times? And say ‘we are just friends’ about five hundred times in your life?

If anybody knows any celebrity who would be willing to submit to really searching questions like these from a nosy journalist, who, for once, only wants to satisfy personal curiousity, you know where to get in touch.


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At November 15, 2005 6:06 PM, Blogger The Marauder's Map said...

Ok, to hell with high-minded ideas of freedom of speech, even for irritating spam comments. This is where I activate word verification.

At November 15, 2005 6:32 PM, Blogger the still dancer said...

ahh..finally. One thought the time would never come. One must point out, though, that the great journalist has misspelt curiosity.There is no 'u' after the 'o'. Honest. In fact, it must be the season for linguistic gaffes,considering the jabberwock is also feeling rather..erm..enervated.
As for the post, if you're willing to wait for another ten odd years, and a betty trusk and a booker somewhere along the way, maybe I'd be able to tell you. Otherwise, there are always..umm..celebrity sff authors

At November 16, 2005 12:50 AM, Blogger 4WD said...

this is unrelated, but someone filed a case against a cinestar of a little while ago, who i had a major crush on. Anyway, i called her, and she denied it all, and said, ``hey can you send e a copy of the papers that you got? i can use it in the case.'' I said ok. Well, in a conversation down the line, she called me ``intelligent, wel spoken and compassionate.'' I think it was little over the top, cos i just thought it would be cool to have a source in bollywood. Anyway, really, with my little interaction with celebs, i think they're all normal people. Like, t dutta probably dresses skimpy, but i know girls who are not famous and dress like that. You know, i think her parents probably realise that this is her job. I guess its cool. I mean, my parents eventually figured out that i'm the way i am, and accepted it. I'm sure that happened with her/other celebs too.

At November 16, 2005 12:53 AM, Blogger 4WD said...

I know this is a little long for just a post, but i'm just wondering. You're a lifestyle reporter? Do celebs treat you a little differently than they treat us (non-lifestyle-types). I mean, the relationship we share with our sources is very different from the ones you share. Both incestous, but, ideally, our sources respect us a fair bit, and are afraid of us, cos they need us, and we can screw them. i dont know if you get what i'm saying. ANyway, just wondering.

At November 16, 2005 12:23 PM, Blogger Jabberwock said...

Kaashyapeya: okay, jet-lag over and I'm back in form. Two can play this game.

Betty Trask. Not trusk.

"Ten-odd years", with a hyphen. "Ten odd years" simply means 10 years that are odd (like the gaffe made on the film Eight Legged Freaks, the title of which unintentionally evoked eight freaks with legs).

And muhaha etc.

At November 16, 2005 12:55 PM, Blogger Ron said...

I think celebs deal with all of the fame and attention by turning nasty and arrogant and absolutely horrible.

In my experience, funnily enough the big stars are never any of those things, its the smaller stars who irritate. Naseeruddin Shah, Aamir Khan, two of the biggest actors in India are very very nice and sweet when you meet them (yes I met them and was suitably starry eyed etc). Ditto for Rahul Dravid Sachin Tendulkar, Malaika Arora. Somehow its smaller stars like Sanjeev Kapoor, the chef, and small time Bangalore based artists and such like who get my hackles up the most. Grr.

At November 16, 2005 12:58 PM, Blogger The Marauder's Map said...

Jabberwock, you stole my thunder! I was just going to write 'talking about linguistic gaffes, my dear Kaashyapeya, Betty TRASK, not Trusk'. But I think your need was greater than mine :D

4WD: I am a lifestyle reporter, not one of your Nikhat Kazmi or Kaveree Bamzai type biggies but a smallish fry who needs celebrities more than they need her. I mean, they can live without seeing a quote in my paper about how they celebrate Durga Puja etc, but to me, it's my living. So it's not a very equal relationship. They are definitely not scared of me, and a fair bit condescending at times.

Actually, I guess T Dutta's parents are cool. No reason why they should not be. I was just wondering about it since I still find myself enamoured of my parents' opinion on occasion, to my great shame.

At November 17, 2005 11:42 AM, Blogger thalassa_mikra said...

I'm really glad you wrote this post, since I've kind of wondered about this as well. There have been times when I've been less than honest with my parents about some guy I'd been seeing (umm...we're just friends, not!). Just didn't want to a face a barrage of inquiries about a guy I'd only been on two dates with.

I realize the luxury of such white lies does not exist for celebrities, who have their private lives up for examination all the time, and their parents know exactly what they are upto.

At November 18, 2005 5:34 AM, Blogger A fool on the hill said...

Absorbing battle over linguistic gaffes! Reminds me of the missing apostrophe (as pointed out by Lynn Truss) in the film Two Weeks Notice.

At November 20, 2005 5:12 AM, Anonymous Ph said...

I suppose I have never stopped thinking about myself long enough to think about anyone else, forget a celebrity. :(

At November 21, 2005 9:01 PM, Blogger Raconteur said...


The price of being a celebrity is to sacrifice your personal life - to go to the same pandals,to the shop next door to buy toothbrush,to walk on the beach with your loved one without getting hounded.

If you want all this then the price is anonymity.

So the choice is is WHAT DO YOU WANT? If you want to be a face that gets recognized, if you want people swooning just by your smile then "YOU GOTTA GIVE SOMETHING"


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