Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
As one of India’s most eligible bachelors tied the knot late on Sunday night, you could almost hear the sound of a million hearts breaking.
But along with that, you could also hear the sound of a million fingers typing furiously on their phones, so that they could tweet their best wishes to Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his bride.
Everyone from Bollywood’s Shilpa Shetty to Bipasha Basu, to teammate Yuvraj Singh “tweeted” their best wishes to the captain. (Congratulate Dhoni here)
“Got to know mahi is getting married! Congratulations dhoni and sakshi hope u have a great life together,” Yuvraj Singh tweeted.
When I think of a Bollywood media interview, what pops into my mind are — long waits, filthy sets, stars with a lot more attitude than they should have and clichéd answers I could have predicted long before I met them…
But Saif Ali Khan proved me wrong on all counts. He turned out to be a thorough professional.
Varma uses the tune of ‘Jana Gana Mana’ and adds to the lyrics, making it a full-fledged song for his film about India’s media industry — “Rann”.
We all knew Shah Rukh Khan had surgery 24 hours ago and yet there he was before us — dressed in T-shirt and jeans, only the sling over his left arm revealing he was in hospital till this morning.
A perfect Saturday afternoon beckoned me. An early lunch was had, the house was quiet and the prospect of dropping off into an uninterrupted sleep was enough to make me smile.
One phone call changed all that. Amitabh Bachchan is on his way to the hospital, a source said and he is sick. The first thing that registered in my mind was “I hope he is ok” and then the journalistic instinct kicked in.
The transformation is amazing. Aamir Khan was known as one of the most reclusive stars in Bollywood – he shunned film magazines, rarely gave interviews and was generally unavailable.This year, he appeared on the cover of a film magazine, granted interviews to all and sundry for a film that didn’t even star him (nephew Imran Khan’s debut film “Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na”), and is now one of the most media savvy stars in the country.Take Monday, for example. A day after his directorial venture “Taare Zameen Par” was chosen as India’s entry to the Oscars, Aamir addressed a press conference, seeking suggestions from the media on how to promote the film to the Academy. He asked for their support and talked about everything from SRK to Raj Thackeray. All of it, with a smile on his face and twinkle in his eyes.When he was referred to as the “King of Bollywood” by a gushing journo, he laughed and said, “Don’t say that, you will upset Shah Rukh Khan.”That was not all. He had a go at Ashutosh Gowariker, saying he preferred ”Mumbai Meri Jaan” over the “Lagaan” director’s epic “Jodha Akbar”.Raj Thackeray wasn’t spared either. “Politicians who divide us are not speaking for the country, they are speaking for themselves. We should vote for those who unite us,” Aamir said, referring to the politician’s campaign against the Bachchans.He was even sporting enough to answer a question about whether Saif and Kareena had gotten married over the weekend, saying “didn’t you find anyone else to ask this question”.The one question he didn’t answer was about younger brother Faisal, telling a reporter firmly that it was a personal matter and he didn’t want to answer it.At the end of it, I came away smiling and impressed. Here is a star who can utilise the media to his advantage (I don’t want to get into what that says about us in the media), and one who is not afraid to speak his mind. Yet, he does know where he wants to draw the line. He has my grudging admiration.
A few years ago, my brother Jose met a girl at an acting workshop in Delhi. He was surprised to learn of her name and couldn’t stop himself from revealing that our neighbour’s dog was also called Sheena.
Amitabh Bachchan started a blog on April 17. And has posted almost daily since, generating hundreds of comments from fans around the world.
His blog is ostensibly about his life and films, but also a platform where the 65-year-old Indian superstar gets even with the “rumor laced spicy barbs” of the media.