Sometimes, just sometimes when I stop thinking about myself, I wonder what a celebrity's life is really like. I come across them so often in my line of work, but most of the time I am looking at them from my perspective. Like, how long it took me
to get them on the phone to answer some silly question, what they must be thinking at being woken up in the middle of the afternoon (after an international flight) by a frantic request (by me
) for photographs and how they must have cursed me
, what a bitch this one was and what a pompous ass that one was etc. It's only rarely that I stop to look at it from their point of view, really think about what goes on in their lives. I thought about this yesterday on my way home in an auto (really, the way I'm getting obsessed with this word, a Google search on 'auto' will lead people straight to this blog. Not bad, really) and was more puzzled than ever.
First, let me clarify. I am not talking here about the kind of celebrities who were reared to be celebrities, who knew what it was to be one because they had seen Mummyji and Papaji be celebrities and knew that no matter how ugly they were, there was still a fair chance they would get their own shots at celebrity-hood. You know the guys I mean. In fact, these days you can't even really tell how ugly they were to begin with. Neither am I talking about the designer-socialite types who, in spite of frantic Page 3 attendances, are still so next-door.
I was thinking of the celebrities who have normal childhoods like yours or mine, with the usual growing up no-one-gives-me-attention pains. In fact, what started off this remarkably unselfish (for me
) chain of thought was reading Great Bong's post on the sting operation of the decade. Now this Tanushree Dutta, I thought, what does it feel like to be born in a small town, go to a regular, rather small-time school, be brought up by regular middle-class Bengali parents and suddenly find yourself being lusted after by most men in the country? (If you happen to be a man and don't lust after her, blame it on the abysmal quality of the men in my life).
Now why her, you may think. Well, because we come from the same pocket of cosmopolitanism, Jamshedpur, (no sniggers, please) and amazingly, we went to the same school as well. She was a few batches junior to me, but knowing my school as I do, it seems incredible to me that someone with that background could one day become a terribly confident exhibitionist. From there, I went to how her parents must react to her celebrity status and to the fact that she seems to have chosen as a prototype not a Nandita Das but that Jhunjhunwala girl from Kaanta Laga. Here I am, cringing while writing a story on modern couples because I'll have to write on stuff like lack of sex and extra marital affairs and my parents will read it, and here's this girl, baring her bosom for
all to see. Just imagine!
Now, don't get me wrong. I have no problems with T Dutta cavorting around in handkerchiefs -- in fact, I rose vociferously to her defence when my mom started telling me all the nasty things they were saying about her in school (and these the same people calling her a chip off the old block and what not when she became Miss India). I'm just talking about the invisible ways your parents continue to influence you even when you are well past the age of caring a damn about what they think. But apparently, being a celebrity, and especially an actress, removes these irritating roadblocks to immortality.
Then there is all this getting used to being recognised everywhere. It happens to all of them – top line, middle line, even the dregs. Somewhere, to some people, they are really big. How DO these people deal with it? I mean, on a daily basis? Take this girl, for instance. There must have been a time when she could just be a young person enjoying the Pujas, but this time, Jamshedpur was all agog because she had given a quote saying she would try to be there for a day. If she had made it, they would probably have attempted to seat her next to the idol or even in place of it. What must it be like not to be able to indulge in a bit of nostalgic revisiting without attracting noisome attention? To not be able to walk down to the corner store to buy a toothbrush? To have to take journalists seriously and repeat the lines the director fed you a zillion times? And say ‘we are just friends’ about five hundred times in your life?
If anybody knows any celebrity who would be willing to submit to really searching questions like these from a nosy journalist, who, for once, only wants to satisfy personal curiousity, you know where to get in touch.