The infidelity of Bollywood fans

By Koral Dasgupta

Koral Dasgupta

Fans are an interesting acquisition. Especially fans of Bollywood actors. They can’t be dumped and ignored, but the day you take them seriously, it’s ‘The End’ for you.

How? Well…

Fans are those who have pledged to be foolishly, blindly ‘loyal’, come what may. They will praise an actor for pulling up crap day after day.

They will troll and outshout those, who try to talk sense and offer a much-deserved critique. They’ll shout slogans, hold banners, kiss posters and paint tattoos of their favourite actors on skin. So flattering and overwhelming is their ‘love’, like a biased and over-protective mother, that it is way too difficult to walk past them without being touched. And that exactly, is the trap.

A film will never generate the desired box office jingle, with fans watching it 200 times. A film makes hay when it is appreciated by fans and critics alike, and it manages to shake the soul of the audience irrespective of their level of interest in the cast.

Has anyone ever looked at the career graph of our Bollywood actors lately?

Most of the actors start as an underdog. Whether you like them or no, their underdog status help them believe that they are the ‘next best thing’. Their efforts to reach there reflect in the brave choices they make, in their willingness to experiment and in their personal growth with each and every project. And then there are those who are ‘heroes’ even before they are launched. They believe that looking like their fathers or stupidly posing like the designer download from intellectual mothers is all they need to be a cherry on the apple pie.

Among the senior actors you would find some, who still behave like an underdog, hungry for that little piece of meat to save their day. They are rich, famous and successful; yet they are hungry. They are not necessarily hungry for more; they are hungry for the better. That in fact, is all about their growth. From the hunger for more, to the hunger for better.

Unfortunately, there is a reverse trend as well. They are the big bang heroes who have been there, done that. They want to sit and count the number of bones in their collection instead of tasting the best meat and letting go of the rest. They have decided that they have tasted enough. Now is the time to sit back and create a museum of skeletons, rekindling repeatedly, the ghosts of their past.

The fans of course are happy to look from outside the glass walls of the museum, and nod their heads in awed appreciation, singing ballads on the diameter and thickness of the stuff on display. The “hero” in question smiles down at them from the roof of the museum, and tweets, “These days I do what I feel like, because I am too big for my audience now.”

The horizon fills with the deafening sound of fans clapping.

And then, with every upcoming film, the desperation shows. Desperation to copy what he thinks, the underdogs are doing to hit the bull’s eye. Desperation to tail in with so-called celebrated names, instead of mapping the content on the table. Desperation to “buy” what could have been sourced with concern, dedication and affection.

The ever reassuring fans stand by forever, pushing the star towards a career suicide. You know why? Because being a “Fan” is an identity they have created over a long time, which they don’t want to lose. It feels something like giving up on a rented mansion just because it is breaking down in the corners, the pipes are leaking and the wiring has gone weak. Convincing the owner to renovate it would mean too much of hassle.

Why not just ignore and pretend as if the cracks don’t exist? Cover them with Pashmina. Throw a cocktail party instead, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the palace. Let the wine flow like water. Repeat. And wait, till one day the bricks can’t take the burden of the false show any longer.

Cheers to Bollywood fans. Long live the Bollywood biggies.



Picture Credit: AP and Indian Express

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