With daughter Radhika and nephew Amartya at the Bryan Adams' concert. Please note my poor wrist in its smart and snug sling!
This appears in the current issue of Hi! Blitz....
The Godzilla called Bollywood…
It’s official : Bollywood rules. Bollywood to the right of you.Bollywood to the left of you. Bollywood, Bollywood everywhere! Bollywood has grown into a monster that has devoured every conceivable space in sight – from fashion , sports, media, society, lifestyle,politics… you name it and it’s right there. In your face? You bet!Nothing else matters.And nobody comes anywhere close to competing with our super glam stars – not even our super-super glam socialites who once held sway as undisputed empresses of all they surveyed – which was mainly , men with money. These fading Divas stood for all that was aspirational, desirable, sexy. Today, it’s Bollywood or bust…. and to hell with Mrs. Money Bags and those stylish parties that used to be the hottest ticket in town. Today, these same ladies are the ones chasing Bollywood royalty. When did this surreptitious palace coup take place? Why? How? By whom? And what will happen to our society swans if nobody bothers with them anymore? Okay, let’s get a quick fix first – Delhi was always hopelessly Bollywood- struck, even back in those days when national calamities saw film stars getting roped in to raise funds ( to the film industry’s credit , all those invited to contribute time, effort and money, did so generously and won the hearts of their audience forever ). But what one witnesses in Delhi today is unadulterated hysteria – a demented level of obsession - over any and every Bollywood name ( zero quality control in the Capital) with brazen groupies from sarkari and corporate backgrounds getting orgasmic at the thought of hanging out and most importantly, being clicked with minor filmi types. Don’t laugh when I tell you that it has come to a stage when even a Koena Mitra will lead to rioting at the venue, and an Abhay Deol ( I love him, but he isn’t exactly Aamir Khan) would require police protection – yes – it’s that insane. The only topic of conversation that gets Dilliwallas going is Bollywood gossip, especially if it involves ‘The Bitches of Bandra’ ( that’s what this high profile gal gang of spoilt filmi wives calls itself with unadulterated pride) and ‘The Gay Club’ featuring top directors and their toy boys. The questions rarely go beyond, “Is it true that so-and-so is doing that slut?” And yes, ‘slut’ is now a unisex putdown….or a term of endearment - take your pick!
The Bollywood onslaught started with stars taking over the modeling world and ad agencies opting for Bollywood biggies over top models. If in the old days, only a Vinod Khanna would be seen bathing with Parmeshwar Godrej’s Cinthol soap, today there is hardly any product category left that does not hire movie stars to peddle its wares. Ditto for show stoppers at fashion shows. Clients insist the returns are there for all to see – brands which sign on top stars , see sales figures going through the roof within months. Designers with zero talent establish their credentials as soon as a nubile starlet struts down the cat walk in one of their hideous creations. From paan masala to snazzy cars, from booze to balms – Bollywood is the flavour of the decade. Which is why it comes as no surprise that event managers, party organizers and those dodgy ‘charity queens ( whose favourite charity is themselves!)’ from both cities fervently court Bollywood, knowing that without the stars , they won’t make it to Page 3 or even Page 30. It’s turned out to be a win- win situation for everybody. Not a single medium has been spared the ultra- aggressive Bollywood attack – not even Bollywood’s arch rival - television! The top ranking shows feature most of the Khans, plus Amitabh Bachchan. Less prestigious reality shows thrive on the presence of B-grade upstarts to C-grade imports from Pakistan. All the mighty movie stars who’d once sniffed derisively at the idea of appearing on the small screen are lining up in droves, attracted by the mega bucks being thrown their way by canny channel heads. Why, even the legendary Madhuri Dixit has taken ‘chhuti’ from her hausfrau routine in America to sign up as a judge for a dance show.
That leaves politics – India’s alternative entertainment show. Somehow Bollywood has still to crack the big time in national politics. The few who dared to venture into this murky terrain came away wounded ( Amitabh Bachchan being the best example). Others who flirted with netagiri ( Govinda, Sanjay Dutt) realized soon enough that histrionics and politics are not the best combo. Not even a Shatrughan Sinha or Raj Babber could get to the top of the pile in quite the same way as those superstars-with-shades from Down South. Jaya Bachchan is no Jayalalitha and as for Jaya Prada, her status remains nebulous so many years after taking the plunge. Perhaps we should consider ourselves lucky that at least one key territory (politics) remains Bollywood -free so far. For soon the business of sports (IPL, anyone?) will be entirely swamped by Bollywood as well… and before long , so will real estate (most successful builders are happy to act as fronts for movie stars). Ironical that the very film industry that was once looked down upon and shunned by true blue snobs, is being actively courted by the same lot and their party loving bachcha log who are best buddies with the ‘cool set’ in Bollywood. That leaves just our snooty private clubs and gymkhanas, most of which refuse to entertain stars as either members or guests. Plus, a few building societies which just about stop short of putting up signs reading: ‘Stars and dogs not allowed’. Pity. Imagine living cheek-by-jowl with someone as hot and adventurous as our Piggy Chops.
Life mein aur kya mangta?
Errrrrr…. a reality check, perhaps??