Give mystique a miss2 min read . Updated: 03 Sep 2010, 08:50 PM IST
Give mystique a miss
Give mystique a miss
A weekly magazine recently paid a visit to Rani Mukherjee to find out if she was indeed morphing into Rekha, as rumours seemed to indicate. In Bollywood, recluse is code for an out-of-work actor with weight issues. Mukherjee, who apparently looked like a million bucks, brushed away her recent absence from the movies and blamed the stories about her alleged reclusiveness on the current craze for Twitter. “Everyone has become so accessible," Mukherjee complained about the social networking service. “To me, being exclusive and being mysterious is what makes a star."
In the 1970s and 1980s, a spat between Amitabh Bachchan and film magazines led to a blanket ban on interviews with the star. Bachchan’s second coming in the 1990s was helped in no small part by the access that the media gained to his every move. The angry young man had grown into a sound-bite-friendly older man.
Hindi films have changed a great deal, but audiences remain as star-struck as ever. The film industry has always been obsessed with numbers. How much did the film cost? How much did it earn? How much more could it have possibly made had it been flogged some more? Enter the star, the most recognizable advertising tool for any movie. In order to ensure success, stars must participate in what advertising pundits call the “360-degree" experience. To guarantee an initial, a star can’t just loom over the public consciousness in a hoarding, but must work towards achieving a multiplier effect through as many platforms as possible. Ubiquitousness has become a sign of achievement. Exclusivity simply doesn’t pay any more.
Starting with the Big B, our stars are more easily accessible than they have ever been. Sure, you can’t just call them up on their cellphones and chat about the weather (though some journalists enjoy that privilege), but they are constantly in the limelight, more out of choice than compulsion. Apart from the films, they’re in the tabloids and society magazines and on television chat shows. They are at hand to launch jewellery stores and laptops. Shah Rukh Khan’s ascent is partly because of his expert media-savviness. Aamir Khan, who kept away from the press in the early noughties, is now a regular presence in the media.
Earlier, we had to twist our necks out of shape to spot our stars. Now, all we need to do is pick up the television remote and change the channel—or get a Twitter account. Twitter proves that in the newly liberalized India, mystique is an outdated and overrated concept.
Nandini Ramnath is the film critic of Time Out Mumbai (www.timeoutmumbai.net).
Write to Nandini at firstname.lastname@example.org