A Bonfire of the Vanities

Plain looks seem to be the ticket to stardom,subverting notions of supermodel wannabes.

Written by FAHAD SAMAR | Published: March 15, 2013 12:27:00 am

Plain looks seem to be the ticket to stardom,subverting notions of supermodel wannabes.

Indian women are arguably one of the finest examples of God’s wonderful and varied creations. They are beautiful,intelligent,nurturing,hard working and the perfect embodiment of naari shakti . The same lofty standards,sadly,do not apply to the Indian male who leaves a lot to be desired in matters of looks,manners and general deportment. I,myself,harbour no resentment that women are superior to men. On the contrary,I am grateful that we get to consort with such evolved creatures while they have to contend with substandard specimens like us. Indian men are so used to being average looking that a reasonably handsome chap grows up believing he is an indigenous Adonis.

As an ad filmmaker,I regularly encounter scores of such young studs — so full of hope,dreams,aspirations — so utterly full of themselves. They seem to be cut from the same cloth. A gora-chitta boy,undoubtedly the Kashmiri seb of his mother’s eye,who spent his formative years being told that he is destined to become a film hero. “‘Womans’ will throw themselves at your ‘feets’,yaar.” “Producers ki line lag jayegi,beta.” “You will become a crorepati overnight,boss!”

As a result,the strapping young buck ignores his education and devotes his energies towards building his “boddy-shoddy” and preening-posing in preparation to becoming a superstar. The local lasses throw themselves at this stud and further reinforce his belief that he is bound for greatness like Dharam paaji and Sallu bhai. Then comes the mandatory relocation to Mumbai,the maya-nagri,to be “discovered.” Paying Guest digs at Yari Road,portfolio shoot at Oshiwara,pilgrimage to office of Ram Gopal Verma — but wait — the Factory has shut down! And similarly,other producer’s doors remain shut despite desperate,repeated knocking. “Arrey,do some modelling-shodelling,yaar — like apna Arjun,John,Milind…”

But sadly,the age of the male supermodel has passed. This is the era of celebrity endorsements. Saif,Shah Rukh,Sachin,Salman are selling cars,colas,cell phones…. Ironically to be a successful male model today you have to either already be famous or otherwise,a total schmuck. A below-average looking bhondu who looks and talks funny—think Bingo,Mentos,Chlormint,Asian Paints. “Kyon Sunil babu,badhiya hai!”

Suddenly it becomes apparent that being good looking does not ensure a smooth ride to stardom. “Doesn’t matter,buddy — Balaji ka koi serial-verial kar de”. In an interesting role reversal,the Indian masses want to see plain-jane heroines and hunky jock heroes on television. And so,to the idiot box—the last refuge of failed filmi hopefuls who become eye candy for bored housewives and fodder for saas-boohoo shenanigans. Long work hours,erratic payment schedules,megalomaniacal channel heads,whimsical audience tastes,burn out at 25….“Arrey boss,get a steady job now. Koi airline-shairline join kar le.”

I wonder if you have noticed just how good looking most Indian male flight attendants are? Much better looking than the females. “Coffee,Tea or Me,anyone? Anyone??”


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