Tuesday, Feb 07, 2023

The Notorious Resume

It no longer takes real talent or achievement to become a celebrity — a scandal will suffice.

Her big Bollywood break came and went in 2005 with Sunny Deol-starrer Jo Bole So Nihaal. But Nupur Mehta’s real moment of fame arrived when she found herself amid a match-fixing scandal last week. With media in a frenzy to get a glimpse of her and reporters hanging on to every word she said,Mehta rose from being a failed actress to a celebrity.

“In the world of 24-hour news channels and the public’s constant need to be entertained,‘celebritydom’ can be this fickle,” points out a senior official at Colors channel,who does not wish to be named. “Nupur Mehta,after all,made it to “breaking news” and this will bring TRPs to the show that manages to rope her in,” he adds. In the bargain,the original definition of a celebrity,over the years has been compromised. Rakhi Sawant,Veena Malik,Dolly Bindra,Ashmit Patel,Raja Chowdhary,Sambhavana Seth and Pooja Missra have proved that the resume of a celebrity no longer needs talent or achievement.

However,easy as it may be to achieve the status of a celebrity,the challenge is to remain in the audience’s consciousness. She first shot into public consciousness for a mere promise to strip,but Poonam Pandey has had to go through various stages of undress to stay in the news. From bikini shots to raunchy photo uploads on Twitter and a bathing video on YouTube,this former Kingfisher calendar model ensures she is at the centre of attention frequently.

Malik was first heard of in India when she openly spoke against ex-boyfriend,cricketer Mohammed Asif,when he was embroiled in a match-fixing controversy. Bigg Boss followed soon,where she cosied up to actor Ashmit Patel,took on an obnoxious Dolly Bindra and,in turn,became a household name. Then came her famous,disputed nude magazine cover shoot and her vanishing act,which Malik attributes to antibiotics that put her to sleep for 48 hours.

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“Each of these starlets have an active PR machinery and extremely well-planned strategies to keep them in the news. What works in their favour is that they are willing to risk their reputation,” explains Sunny Sakh,a PR executive.

But to what end? With careers that are short-lived,the idea is to make the most of their 15 minutes of fame. Television becomes the first step and grabs eyeballs through sensationalist behaviour. Payal Rohatgi managed to make it as a contestant in Khatron Ke Khiladi,got a few roles on TV and a film,Dil Kabaddi. Similarly,Sawant and Malik can be seen on and off television or at events in small towns where they get paid to turn up as the ‘celebrity’. Even Bindra,known for being loud and abusive,says she continues to get TV offers. Mehta also says she is enjoying the attention,as offers from television producers have already begun to pour in.

But outside of this “celebritydom”,they often become a matter of ridicule. Most of Poonam Pandey’s Twitter followers track her only because it gives them an opportunity to take her on. When PETA asked her to strip for their campaign,the audience reaction was laced with condescension. Malik’s debut as a cricket commentator found takers because of its unintentional humour.


Incidentally,while the boys do leverage upon these opportunities,they are more than eager to shrug off the notoriety once the news fizzles out. Case in point is Patel,whose steamy kiss with actor Riya Sen in 2007 went viral. He was then linked with Malik on Bigg Boss. But Patel quickly moved on from both the incidents. “I don’t want to talk about what is past. I am concentrating on my future projects,” he says,notwithstanding his upcoming film with Malik.

For most women,such matters are of little concern. Bindra is happy that through Bigg Boss,her fans came to know her as “one who does not tolerate nonsense”. Sawant too,has always claimed the same,oscillating between the image of a bold item girl and a victim of circumstances. “The idea is to keep alternating between the good-girl and the bad-girl image. This keeps the viewers guessing,” adds Sawant.

First published on: 23-03-2012 at 01:11 IST
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