In an interview in the latest issue of Glamour, Hollywood beauty Scarlett Johansson minced no words in expressing her distaste for her media bestowed “Scar Jo” nickname. “I associate that name with, like, pop stars,” she tells Glamour. “It sounds tacky. It’s lazy and flippant. And there’s something kind of violent about it. There’s something insulting about it,” she adds.
While none of us will ever know what it feels like to be Scarlett, at least on this point we are all Scarlett. Nicknames are always tricky and embarrassing. It takes a lot of life and many counseling sessions until we become okay with the ones we are well, born into. What bothers me is the futility of it all. We just don’t have any say on how we will be called all our lives. Imagine a 60-year-old Tunnu Uncle or a 55-year-old Smarty Aunty or worse a 17-year-old Pappi Bhaiya.
The list is endless. Why would anyone do this to the ones they love? I have a theory. I believe when adults (mostly new parents) see the cute baby that they helped make, their brain freezes with the enormity of emotion and they utter some sound or word and it becomes the baby’s nickname. That’s the only logic I can think of.
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While regular folks like us have to deal with one embarrassing nickname, celebrities have to handle double the pain. Once they are perceived as “having arrived” a naming ceremony in print usually follows. Nobody asks them if they are happy with it, it’s like a gift for someone you love (Read “Big B” for Amitabh Bachchan). Most of them hate it like Scarlett. Take for instance Salman Khan. He hates being called “Sallu” (“Kaunsa Sallu? Kiska Sallu? That’s not my name,” he retorted to a foreign scribe in Leeds, Yorkshire who called out to him). Katrina Kaif just rolls her eyes when she’s tagged as “Kat”.
Shah Rukh Khan has no problem with being called SRK but only his inner circle has the privilege to call him “Shah”. Likewise with Shahid Kapoor, only his close gang is allowed to call him “Shasha”. Akshay Kumar has learnt to live with “Akki”. Deepika Padukone just smiles when she’s called “Deepi”. Sushmita Sen and Aishwarya Rai have also made peace with “Sush” and “Ash” respectively.
The Kapoor Sisters, Kareena and Karisma have graciously allowed their real nicknames to be their print monikers. They have always been “Bebo” and “Lolo”. Ditto with Hrithik Roshan who is okay being called “Duggu”. Priyanka Chopra likes her initials in print, but she is specific that it’s PEECEE and
not just PC.
Recently Karan Johar revealed that after his show Koffee with Karan, the kids in his building have started calling him “Koffee” Uncle. “I’m now officially a beverage and no longer a human being,” he tweeted. Just for the record, he’s quite cool with the nickname “K Jo” that Outlook magazine gave him.
From “Scar Jo” to “K Jo” there’s a lot in a nickname.