Vinita Dawra Nangia
As celebrities are made and unmade each day with impunity, the pressure increases on the rest of us to be stars in our own right!
One of the pressing social needs of our times is the need to be a star! Nobody is happy being just an ordinary human being. In fact, an interesting fallout of self-help books and gurus has been that all are convinced we are extraordinary beings living an ordinary human life.
No longer can you be just a journalist, bureaucrat, teacher, manager, filmmaker, designer or model. You have to be the best! And since all cant be the best, you fan out in other spheres, still in search of that elusive star status.
An explosion of media and peep-hole journalism has ensured celebrities are no more starry specks on the firmament, but an everyday reality within our living rooms. Gossip columns, television footage and now mobile updates give us minute by excruciating minute updates of every move a celebrity makes. You may not be aware that your neighbours have been blessed with a grandchild, but you will have every detail of the labour pains Sanjay Dutts wife Manya underwent and in what order her twins decided to enter the world!
With an overload of celebrity information, where we get to examine not just the starry moments of our icons, but also their feet of clay, is it surprising that each one of us is encouraged to nudge awake the star within us Till the time celebrities were shrouded by mystique, those beyond the charmed circle could only sigh and admire. But once market demands forced celebs to step out and mingle, public aspirations for celebrityhood skyrocketed.
And media has gallantly risen to meet the public demand. Numerous reality shows on television give all an equal chance to win their spot in the sun. Fancy yourself a singer Try your luck with the many shows that promote singing talent. Proud of your intelligence and general awareness Get to sit with Amitabh Bachchan on Kaun Banega Crorepati!
An out-of-work, struggling star who wants to shoot to prominence Get yourself locked up in a house with similar wannabes for Big Boss. No talent and yet want some fame Why, its easy! Just wash your dirty linen in public on Emotional Attyachar. Who cares if you lose a girlfriend or boyfriend in the process! At least you are seen on television, even if at your most ridiculous ! Then you too can strut around like a star and have people do a double take when they see you in public. Facebook, Twitter and other social media too allows an easy path to celebrityhood.
Get onto Facebook and count more virtual friends than you can ever hope to have in your real life. Join Twitter and almost instantly gain some followers just like any celebrity or spiritual guru! Suddenly, the most ordinary person can find himself engaged in a dialogue with Amitabh Bachchan or Shah Rukh Khan! You could be consoling Sonam Kapoor or Deepika Padukone on the failure of their last movies or congratulating Hrithik and Aishwarya on their brilliant performance in Guzarish! The stardust that rubs off with such interactions is exciting and leaves you craving for more.
It sure is easy today to get your spot in the sun, but not all can handle it well. How many of us can stay grounded after we receive some adulation or public attention Even the toughest slip up. Look at what happened to Barkha Dutt. On TV, she was this feisty anchor who won her laurels reporting from Kargil. On Twitter, she showed the chinks in her armour by indulging in inane and flirtatious interactions for all to see with stars such as Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan. Her tweets revealed a person drunk on power who was further exposed by the Radia tapes, spelling the end of an extraordinary love affair with the public, so far as journalists go. And there is nothing crueler than a public cold shoulder after you have been encased in their hearts.
It is perhaps this need everybody has to be a star that results in the glee with which we strip our icons the moment they falter. People on the lookout for opportunities to grasp their own celebrity moments, jump with extraordinary and cruel enthusiasm to pull down celebrities from pedestals they seated them on. Brickbats fly with much more enthusiasm than bouquets did. Drawing room conversations gleefully take apart the fallen celeb bit by bit. People relish the idea of the pain the fallen celebrity experiences, for it gives them one good reason finally to celebrate their own unsung lives.
Perhaps there is a strange comfort in unseating icons. For when an idol is discovered to have feet of clay, the pressure on the rest of us lessens to a great degree.
Just a thought I leave you withIsnt it far better to live an ordinary life well, minus the pressures and insecurity of celebrityhood Amongst all the clamour for stardust, doesnt a peaceful, content-with-your-lot existence seem an exciting proposition Is it even a possibility any more?