I was delighted when Nana Chudasama, the Chairman of Giants' International, a 39 -year-old social service organisation, promptly accepted my suggestion to honour Gautam Rajadhyaksha, posthumously, by giving him this prestigious award, four days after his sudden demise. Thank you, Nana. It was a grand function, as always, with a host of deserving receipients, like veteran TV anchor Vikram Chandra, media moghul Ronnie Screwvala, actor Farhan Akhtar, prominent doctors, educationists and of course, my old friend Y.K. Sapru of the Cancer Patients Aid Association. Gautam would have been delighted with the award... it would have meant a lot to him... such a pity, it came this late.
"The perils of living in a fish bowl " reads the headline for my column in the Sunday Times .... and this is the one I gave. Which one do you prefer??? :
"When celeb ‘shaadis’ go phut…."
Show me a person who doesn’t salivate over ‘salacious gossip’, and I’ll show you a bore! Come on… it’s human nature to want to know the dirty details about your neighbour, his wife, his kids, even his pet dog. That wonderful desi phrase: whyfor you are wanting to poke your big ,fat nose into other people’s lafdas? No other kaam-dhanda or what?’demands a candid response, “Frankly, no yaar! I am pretty faltu these days… tell me more.”As of now, the presswallas are pretty divided and the jury is out on how much coverage to give dishy C.M. Omar Abdullah’s official announcement ( he has split from Payal,his wife of 17 years). The rather silly argument is : “But it’s a personal matter… is it of national importance?” Ummm. Is Salman’s surgery of national importance? Does it impact India’s economy if Sheetal Mafatlal waltzes off with jools and canvases worth crores from her marital home, that may or may not belong to her? Does the future of Kingfisher Airlines change if Siddhartha Mallya marries Deepika Padukone? Will India go into deep shock and depression if the number one ‘It Girl’ of today, Vidya Balan goes public with a ‘dirty’ secret? It’s time to grow up and smell the spicy rassam. There is hardly anybody one earth who isn’t curious about what’s going on in the lives of public figures. Good looking, high profile public figures, at that. Omar Abdullah is almost a movie star. He has been the poster boy for the Congress Party ever since he jumped into the political arena. His father, Faroouq Abdullah, remains a rakishly attractive senior citizen, with a colourful reputation he has never bothered to hide. Omar’s tabloid credentials, in that sense, come from an impeccable lineage. And I am glad he has taken the best route available to celebrities caught in such sticky circumstances. Omar took the wind out of media sails by being upfront about the status of his failing marriage. This is how it is handled by mature, modern, clever people. Why wait for the muck to start flying? Why not pre-empt the inevitable coverage by making the announcement yourself and in the most dignified way possible? Why run away from what is already in the public domain?
Omar Abdullah has shown the way. Link-ups,break-ups,patch-ups, happen. Nobody is interested in these kahanis if the main protagonists are non-entities. But as soon as a person chooses the harsh glare of the spotlight, it’s time to kiss privacy goodbye. A celebrity can’t have it all – incandescent fame and a reclusive life. Unfortunately, the two (fame and zero privacy) are inter-linked. The Omar-Payal story read like a fairytale about today’s progressive India, given the assorted faiths and nationalities involved in the alliance. If the marriage and the arrival of two beautiful children , received extensive coverage in the press at the time without anybody squawking, ‘ But is it of national interest?’, why not just shut up and treat the impending divorce in the same spirit? Tabloid journalism across the world spares nobody. Look at how the media handled Arnie S and Tiger Woods when their marriages fell apart , publicly and rather horribly, with charges and counter charges ? Those men had no choice but to take it on the chin and move on with their lives and careers. So it shall be for Omar. It is entirely up to him and his estranged wife Payal how they handle the after math of the recent announcement. If they choose to wash dirty linen in public, you can bet there will be any number of takers.Scratch the surface and we are all voyeurs, living vicariously, feeding off stories about famous people’s fortunes and misfortunes. Forget the moral huffing and puffing. As we say in the media - brutally and crudely – a story is a story. Deal with it.