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Classroom Capers

After blockbusters,the big ticket brands,endorsement deals,cricket teams,chartered flights,charity duties and so on,there is something new that the Bollywood brigade is warming up to — education.

After blockbusters,the big ticket brands,endorsement deals,cricket teams,chartered flights,charity duties and so on,there is something new that the Bollywood brigade is warming up to — education. In addition to supporting education of girls as the entire Bachchan family did for PlanIndia or Aamir Khan who was the face of Teach India campaign,or Priyanka Chopra who shot for an international film Girl Rising (which told the stories of nine girls from around the world who struggled to acquire education); a lot more seem ready to head back to school.

Balaji whizkid Ekta Kapoor is one such. She posted on Facebook a series of happy-to-be-here photos from Harvard University where she is currently enrolled for a business management course.

A few years earlier,Preity Zinta had taken a similar route. In her salad days,Zinta is supposed to have majored in psychology while on the other hand,Ekta who studied at Bombay Scottish dropped out of college (in her second year) to pursue creative interests. Priyanka Chopra who passed up college for a beauty pageant mentioned to me in an interview that she regretted missing out on campus life and her hectic schedule permitting,would not mind enrolling for a course.

Of late,Bollywood insiders too are willing to revisit their opinion on it. The change of heart has something to do with the new,corporate culture that has now taken over the film industry. To stay ahead,mere acting chops or an illustrious family name are no longer adequate in negotiating with suits who head studios and companies that disburse multi-crore endorsement deals.

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It’s not that industry kids didn’t sign up for the mandatory Honors degree — they did. A whole slate of actors such as Abhay Deol,Abhishek Bachchan,Ajay Devgn,Emraan Hashmi,Farhan Akhtar,Hrithik Roshan and Sonam Kapoor have gone through the paces of college. But most confess that going to college was usually a smoke screen; a stop-gap arrangement till they were ready for showbiz launch.

For those outside the film industry,it was exactly the opposite. They knew little of camera angles,lighting and throw of voice,till they stumbled upon theatre or television to give them a foothold in showbiz. Education was their sole hope till they discovered the actor in them. Recently there seems to have been a role-reversal. While people outside the industry are signing up for formal acting classes; actors,directors and producers are now en route to colleges for a crash course in business management and other worldly matters.

Dev Anand once said,a good education is an important part of a star’s persona. For instance,Amitabh Bachchan holds a double major in both arts and science.

Given that Bollywood celebrities are poster boys‘n’girls for society,this journey back to the blackboard,is surely a good trend. For starters,it gives us thinking matinee idols. Indeed,it pays to get back to school.

by Priyanka Sinha Jha,Editor,Screen