Over the years, I have observed the paparazzi of various metropolitan cities shooting bona fide celebrities and people famous for being famous on the red carpet. And so, I decided to write Flash Point a novel about a young Kashmiri orphan, an outsider in every sense, who comes to make it in Mumbai as a photographer. I wanted to portray the city through the lens of young migrants who aspire to succeed in this fabled maya nagri. Flash Point is about their hopes and their heartbreaks. It is also about the city’s glitziest denizens, who daily pose and preen for the paparazzi, exuding a shiny, happy persona.
To understand these people better, here’s the minutiae of the social order.
The first guests to arrive, at any big society event are the staff of the various international embassies and consulates that usually come straight from work and make a beeline for the open bar.
Then come the B-listers who land up early to ensure that the army of shutterbugs has enough time to take their photos before the power hitters arrive.
Struggling starlets, models and theatre personalities attend these chic events en masse, solely to garner publicity.
The wannabes, the social mountaineers, also make an early appearance to see and be seen. These nouveau riche couples seek validation by wrangling invites to society soirees and put up pretence of being aficionados of art and culture.
Then come the industrialists, politicians, bankers and old money hags — all fashionably late but still within time so as not to be gauche.
But it is only when the society queen-bees and their worker drone husbands make an appearance can a bash be regarded as genuinely
The paparazzi click furiously at the flurry of beautiful people who pause to pose for the cameras. Some socialites are veterans of the red carpet who oblige the press with a variety of expressions ranging from smiley to slutty. The starlets, identically and unimaginatively dressed by their stylists, primp and pirouette, saucily flashing cleavage and bare backs. A few industrialists shuffle past shyly, leaving their media-savvy spouses to duck-face the flashbulbs. Nondescript-looking tycoon huffily go past unrecognised, and therefore unphotographed.
Of the hundreds of invitees, no one declines having their photo taken.
Meanwhile, the paparazzi dutifully shoot pictures that will appear in the glossies and on the internet.