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Subhash K Jha’s Sunday Musings

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 Page  3 addicts—now  converted to Rage  Free addiction– always want to know   how  ‘normal’ the superstars are.  “Does Shabana  really scrub her  own floor? Does Raakhee cook entire meals? Do the Bachchans actually see their guests right to  the main gate of their homes?”

     Yes, they do!  The  stars  are as normal  as  you want them to be. Most  of  the  time the problem is in the onlooker’s head and ego. Either he acts too  awestuck or too familiar.

Anupam  Kher tells me  about  the on-flight syndrome where  the person next to him keeps  looking furtively  and finally asks Anupam, ‘Have I seen  you somewhere before?’

  Anupam chuckles   over  that one. “Strangely  this   kind  of  disparaging  snobbery is prevalent  on   airports only…some  unwritten  law whereby you are not supposed to recognize  celebrities. On  railway stations  even  the smallest star gets  mobbed. I suppose the middleclass isn’t inhibited about its fantasies. They’d rather gawk  than smirk.”

Gawking can get gloriously embarrassing   for a  star. Urmila Matondkar   once told me  about why  she  ceased to  take dinner invitations  from fans. “You can’t put  one morsel in your mouth without  the flash popping in   your eyes. You begin to feel  like an animal in the zoo.”

  I recall a conversation with Mr Bachchan  on  this topic. He once spoke feelingly to me about  how difficult  it  gets to keep  a  public face in place while hordes  of  people clamour  for  your attention.  “Before you know it, someone  from the crowd comes forward and gets his picture taken  with you. And then  before you know  it  the same picture appears  on  front cover of  thousands of exercise books for school children. How  do  you avoid this?”

   “You can’t  give up the joy of interacting  with  your fans just because some of them get over-enthusiastic,” said John Abraham  who on  a   visit  abroad, had a  taste of  over-zealous adulation when a hysterical male fan bit him hard  in the shoulder. “And when I say hard, I mean  really  hard. I was  in  a  daze.  My shoulder was wounded for days. But I’d still go out there and  mingle with the people who love me.”

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                   Stardom and adulation are addictive both for  the star and the fan.

                The problem of being treated normally   exists across the line. Stars pine for    the human touch in their social interaction. Why do you think Madhuri Dixit married Dr Nene? Far away in the US he  was completely untouched  by  the Dixit wave that swept Bollywood. I think Madhuri  enjoyed the fact that  the man who swept her off her feet wasn’t swept off his feet  by who she was.

             Stars often  end up not marrying because they aren’t sure if  the person loves the celebrity  or  her power wealth  and  empire.  Lata Mangeshkar and Asha  Parekh  had plenty of  admirers. But none  they could marry.

            “I  had no dearth of  proposals. But how was I to be  sure that they meant business….or  rather they didn’t mean business, ” chuckles  Asha  Parekh “I’ve my work…and I’ve my  friends . So I don’t miss having my own family. Fans can cool you. But they can’t keep you  warm for a lifetime.”

   Today I find Ekta  Kapoor facing the same dilemma.  Whom  can she marry? And how  would  she know it isn’t for  her money….

  I  had heard stories about Ekta’s high-handedness  long before I met her.  The real Ekta  is a far cry from the  image  that she  carries around, almost like an armour.

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  In her position she’s got to  be a  warrior.  Ekta keeps  herself well shielded from the  world  of favour seekers  that surrounds her.

But catch her  with her closely-knit group  of  5-6  friends…and you see that at heart this television tycoon is just another  city girl who wants  to have  fun  and who laughs loudly  at  the silliest joke .

  “The problem is often in the other person’s head. He’s   come to  you with an agenda.  And he has a problem relating to you as a  person,”  confessed Karan Johar to me once. “So  he  convinces himself I’m stuck-up and  impatient when all I’m doing is sitting quietly and smiling patiently at  him. What do I do? Should I be apologetic about being successful?  They make up all kinds of stories about me.”

The problems  don’t end around the bend. They  hound  the celeb to his  home.

     Hrithik Roshan  once told me, “Everyone listens  to you patiently  when you talk about  the  unrealistic  demands on  your time. And then  at the end of  it he or she asks for a favour….release my book,  dance at  my wedding, plug my boutique…whatever. But that one favour  is  the one that I need to do. The rest are inconsequential.”

         The  uneasy relationship between  the star and  the fan lingers. What  also lingers is that feeling of the star looking for the human touch amidst  the glitter glamour and giggle of people pointing at the icon  and gasping.

 “Sometimes I  wonder if these people who scream my name when they see me  would  remember me   six months from now,” sighed an actress who had just got married.

 Ask  Mrs  Nene.

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