‘Didi, kya aapne Shah Rukh Khan ko dekha hai?’ so asked a second cousin of mine, in an innocent voice and hopeful eyes. ‘Nahi, par maine uska ghar dekha hai’ I said and chuckled, expecting her to do the same, but with one look at her crestfallen face, killed that chuckle halfway through. ‘But you stay in Bombay na’ she said. So do crores of others, I wanted to tell her, but somehow didn’t have the heart to tell her that just because I stayed in Bombay, didn’t mean I did my morning walks with superstars……! Not that I do any morning walks, but it does bring me to my favourite question of all times, why are we crazy about celebrity sightings? All Indians, as a rule are crazy about film stars, cricket stars, TV stars, and every other celebrity worth their fifteen minutes of fame……! I remember the frenzy in a suburban shopping mall when one of the Indian idol finalists was campaigning, it was a madhouse and he wasn’t even a star then.
What is this strange fixation with celebrity sightings is something I fail to understand. I mean a celebrity is just another person na? Has two eyes, one nose, two hands, one mouth, two legs and no tentacles sprouting from the head…. Just like all of us…. So why are we so eager to get a glimpse, a nanosecond peak at them? Agreed that in real life, they look nothing close to what they do in reel life, and the fact is that with make up, they only look better. In real life, with no pancake, no special lighting and no clever camera angles to enhance their looks, we get to see them the way nature intended to. And trust me guys, in most cases, it is no treat… My own myth was broken early… I must have been eight or nine when I attended a wedding where a host of Bollywood ‘beauties’ were in attendance. And when I saw Madhuri’s acne ridden face, Meenakshi Seshadri’s limp hair and Anita Raaj’s dusky skin, the gorgeous princesses turned into ugly witches. Since then there have been numerous incidents where I’ve seen celebrities and my conclusion remains same. They never look as good as they do on screen. So that’s about film stars, who are supposed to look good. But what about those celebrities who are not? Like cricket stars? Now my experience with sports stars is limited, Rahul Dravid was sweet, and Kapil Dev was khadoos. But considering that Dravid was just a rising star and not really THE Mr. Dependable when I saw him, it’s tough to say anything about him… Also, its no big secret that Sachin Tendulkar’s friendly demeanor has more to do with his PR and less with his nature. Celebrities are watched all the time, so their public appearances are most often a carefully acted out play. Their excellent nature that we read, hear or see in the media is in reality an excellent PR job… And knowing all this, we are still celebrity crazy! Why, is what baffles me!