When news of an alleged Rs 400 crore alimony payout to his estranged wife started trending on social media, a livid Hrithik Roshan Tweeted: “Fabricated news. Demeaning my loved ones. Testing my patience.” These are trying times for them, no doubt. Fame is a great privilege but it can’t be easy being in the news for a failed marriage and breathlessly speculative theories on what went wrong. If one needs to make a case for a life of happy anonymity, this is it.
The love lives of celebrities, especially when they’re going through a bad phase are deeply engrossing, everywhere in the world. Divorce covers or stories of trainwrecks on tabloids like The Sun sell several times more than celebrity weddings. The OK cover headline this week is “Beyonce and Jay’s $450 million divorce!” In India, superstars like Roshan are more used to fabulous, airbrushed and photoshopped images of themselves on billboards and magazine covers. They have an entourage to make sure they stay in the news and are visible for the right reasons, be it ad campaigns, charity events or watching the IPL. PR teams skillfully manoeuvre the attention, occasionally feeding TV stations a tantalising byte about a random film. And sure enough, it’s trending right away. Stars become accessible right before a movie release and magically vanish immediately after. But when a life event like divorce happens, controlling the news isn’t so easy. It’s wholly invasive and uncomfortably jarring I’m sure, but one who courts attention 90 per cent of the time and prospers from it, has to be prepared for some unwelcome intrusion as well. Is it worth it? Definitely.
On a daily basis, celebrities’ staggering accomplishments are hurled at us, relentlessly. There are so many extraordinary people out there doing such incredible things, whether it’s attempting to break sporting records, jumping from space or just being mindbogglingly creative in business. There seem to be no limits to what people can achieve and how they seemingly effortlessly, are constantly reinventing themselves. A reader needs to be very evolved not to feel a twinge of envy or existential angst faced as we are by a barrage of great stories of toil and self-realisation. So when stars have personal troubles, it’s perversely heartening. It’s a reaffirmation to the non-celebrity that sharing a life with one person is a really hard job, irrespective of who you are, or what you’ve achieved professionally. Scratch the dazzling surface and it turns out, reassuringly so, everyone has the same problems. Absolutely nobody is immune from the drudgeries of domestic life.
Our age, though, is one of instant celebrity and there is virtually no distinction between high and low culture. Audaciousness is equal to talent which is why a Rakhi Sawant is as well known as a Kareena Kapoor. Oscar host Ellen DeGeneres poked fun at the world’s obsession with stars when she live tweeted an epic selfie of herself with Hollywood’s A-listers. It shattered the record of 77,8000 retweets held by Barack Obama and crashed the website. But now, even people with 3,000 followers on Twitter are famous.
Compared to them, Sawant is far more deserving of adulation. We have many more celebrities but far fewer icons. The Roshans are used to their most intimate relationships being entertainment. The perks outweigh the negatives mostly but as the late author Gabriel Garcia Marquez cannily observed, “Fame is very agreeable but the bad thing is it goes on 24 hours a day.”
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