Like millions of viewers across India,I am an absolute sucker for reality shows on television. Especially the ones featuring B- and C- grade ‘celebrities’ making complete asses of themselves (and us!), while getting paid for their monkey tricks. But the one reality show I would love to watch in future involves a creature who is unique and compelling in a way that defies logic or reason. That show would be ‘‘The Search for India’s Paris Hilton.” I’m certain Ms. Hilton herself would gladly play judge if the money is right. For she, more than any human being on earth, has mastered the unsubtle art of playing the celebrity game – and winning! Paris is a cultural phenomenon. Paris parties 24x7. It is a full- time , highly- paid job. Paris makes serious money jetting around the world (from Tokyo to Timbucktoo), attending glamourous soirees thrown by complete strangers.The big bucks she makes exceed the fat pay cheques pocketed by corporate honchos with a string of degrees to their credit. Her party calendar is so over- booked she requires an entire team of social secretaries to sort out her dates. Since she has to make a living out of attending parties, Paris also needs the services of various stylists who create daily ‘looks’ for her. These specialists come at a hefty price – but in the case of Paris, it is her only investment in the multi-million dollar Paris Hilton Industry – which produces, packages and sells just one single product – Paris herself!
What makes Paris special? Is it the bottle blond hair? The stylish frocks? Sexy shoes? Crazy quotes? Size zero figure? It is of course, all this … but that still does not explain the hold she has over her fans spread across the world, who follow her every move in a manic and obsessive way. The minute Paris steps out in public, her pictures are all over cyber space. She is perhaps one the most watched person on earth, along with Barrack Obama, or more accurately, Michelle Obama. That is quite an achievement for a person whose calling card probably states “ Party Girl’’ as her profession. Deconstructing the Paris phenomenon, it is somewhat difficult to figure out why Paris and Paris alone , makes big bucks by merely showing up somewhere. Why does her presence generate acres of publicity? It is said by awestruck Paris-watchers that any host who manages to get Paris to a party, hogs instant international paparazzi attention and ups his\her own glam quotient overnight. It’s a win-win situation for both. So, what has Paris herself done to create such a powerful brand? Analysts say she cleverly used the Hilton name to project a rich-bitch image that appealed to an ever - growing aspirational class across the globe. Through shrewdly-scripted reality shows on television, she capitalized on people’s fascination for the lives of the rich, famous and ditzy. Paris is no dumb blond. But she used the dumb blond platform to promote herself worldwide – and it worked!Today, she can sell anything from perfumes to couture – even though she flopped miserably as a movie star and popstar. And despite sleazy sex videos of Paris with an ex-flame being all over the net at one time. Notoriety did not kill Paris.
In India, the celeb game is being played by rank amateurs. Apart from high flying Bollywood stars and top cricketers, most of the others hankering for a picture on Page 3, are left languishing on the sidelines after an initial burst that sees them getting featured on a nauseatingly regular basis. Their claim to fame can be the acquisition of the latest ‘It’ bag, or a particularly daring designer gown. They thrown open their wardrobes for glossy photo shoots, provide crass details about the lakhs spent on a clutch, pose vulgarly with their labels on display, and boast about their designer gear.The few who had cracked the formula earlier, are the has- beens of today who have reduced themselves to jokes by resorting to silly tricks in order to stay in the public eye. Page 3 photographers have the most amusing stories to narrate about the modus operandi of these aggressive wannabes who court them with designer chocolates, cakes and flowers. Page 3 reporters also laugh over the obvious manner in which they are wooed by desperate socialites who embarrass them on their birthdays and anniversaries. But those who are really, really serious about playing the celeb game invest in hiring p.r. agencies to boost their personal ratings via daily ‘leaks’ and feeds. If readers wonder how reporters happen to land up at supposedly private parties at precisely the right time, there is always a friendly p.r. person providing key details about the venue, guestlist, even menu!! Bollywood stars are brilliant at exploiting this strategy, be it ‘surprise’ birthday parties or even midnight proposals on bended knee. Certain corporate types are also known to chase Page 3 journos and demand why their pictures were not used! The truly desperate stop at nothing – even gate- crashing glittering events armed with gigantic floral displays. Once inside, they stick to the host, making sure at least one picture gets clicked with the VIP. Art shows have become the latest hunting ground of Page 3 chasers. The regulars go from one gallery to the next, drinking free wine and hogging canapés –paintings are the last thing on their minds. There is a whole tribe of these freebiewallahs who preen and pose for the cameras and offer soundbytes to any and every channel. You can see them muscling their way into a venue and standing put next to the chief guest till the camerapersons leave the premises. Often, they time their arrival with camera crews and vanish the moment the all-important photo-ops are over. Fashion shows, boutique openings, fashion weeks, restaurant launches – this is their turf. Publicity is their oxygen.
But till such time as a desi Paris Hilton emerges and the world gets hooked, local celebs will continue to languish as pale imitations of the real thing.
Guys.... here comes a shameful confession. No, not of the Tiger Woods variety, sorry to disappoint you! But.... but.... I missed my flight to Melbourne! And I only realised it when I was five minutes away from the airport last night. It can happen,Okay? I am numbers challenged and I got the a.m. - p.m. thing all wrong. In other words, I got to the airport twelve hours too late. But, you know what??This glitch gave me the much needed breathing time to catch up with myself, and attend to routine, boring, domestic stuff. I'm now leaving tomorrow morning, inshallah. God wanted me to be here for some reason today. Shall let you know as soon as I find out.