What stardom in Bollywood means

Friday, 7 November 2008, 16:25 | Category : Bollywood & the Indian film industry, Slices
Tags : , ,

It was Shahrukh Khan’s 43rd birthday a few days ago and so there’s been a lot of media coverage in India about that, with even the producers of his next film using his birthday to promote the film (the first promo video was released - that’ll probably be posted sometime later on my blog :)). I’ve skimmed through much of the coverage without that much interest until I saw this. Perhaps it struck me more than anything else because it’s a video without much commentary and it’s almost unedited. I wanted to cut it down for you, but as it can’t be embedded I couldn’t, so it’s a little long. Then again the length of the whole procedure is perhaps partly what I found so odd about it. It’s a clip of people gathering in front of Shahrukh’s house on his birthday (it’s about 3min. before he actually appears) and then he comes out onto a sort of fenced up terrace to wave to all of them (so that’s about 2min. of waving and blowing kisses during which he also climbs some of the fence so they can see him better). At first glance there’s nothing that interesting about it, but the whole mood of it is very strange - it’s almost like some sort of religious ritual.
One hears a lot about how stardom in Bollywood means something totally different than stardom in the West, but I guess it never quite hit me as strongly as on that clip. Now, when I hear that when Amitabh Bachchan was once seriously ill in hospital his fans kept vigil outside of the hospital praying for him, I have a totally different image of it. Apparently what happened then has turned into a kind of ritual and they now come outside Mr Bachchan’s house every Sunday sort of “in rememberance” of that and he always comes out to greet them.
In the West one certainly hears about fans becoming crazy and obsessed with certain stars (I still remember how they were worried teenage girls would commit suicide over Take That splitting up), but when they gather outside of stars’ houses it has none of that religious ritual kind of feeling - it’s more like stalking :] (I’m sure that happens in India too, but clearly it can also have a very different aspect to it)
I guess in certain ways Bollywood stars also lead a much more public sort of life… I mean like the home addresses of Bollywood stars are public knowledge. You can google for them and they’ll be amongst the first results you find. If you google for the home addresses of Hollywood stars you’re unlikely to find them that easily. You’ll find addresses to write to for autographs, memorabilia, agents etc. but their home address is most times kept private (or at least that’s how they try to keep it).

Leave a comment