Sex and the ‘Celebrity’

(Published in Times of India: )

Hrithik Roshan and Kangana Ranaut’s turbulent and very public display of personal drama is only another example of how movie producers need not look far to gain inspiration for penning movie scripts.

Email hacking, stalking, break-ups, vicious legal battles, a proposal in Paris – it has all the delicious ingredients to guarantee a box-office winner. The Roshan-Ranaut real-life starrer has taken over the gossip columns, blogs, social media channels and living rooms chat sessions, so much so that even the famed celebrity blogger Miss Malini has made sure to stay in the thick of the story and has us glued to her blog updates.

Even after this nail-biting saga seems to have somewhat blown over, the controversy still remains very fresh and gossip mills continue to buzz. Not to mention Hrithik’s rumoured other MARRIED girlfriend (daughter of another legend, I hear) who isn’t very happy with his trangressions either. Then there’s Virat and Anushka batting their way through the media storms that seem to kick off with every match and every movie. As they say, never a dull moment!

The film industry today is rife with such real life stories that can put the reel life stagnating scripts to shame. A celebrity’s life is always on display – this we have always known. But in recent times it is becoming abundantly clear just how much. Earlier we used to laugh at  news channels that devoted entire hour-long shows to what a celebrity wore to a party, who they were seen leaving with or that wardrobe malfunction of a dress that another celebrity had worn the previous week.But today it seems nothing is left to the imagination anymore. From movie stars to even TV show actors, their every move makes a headline and the stories seem to be getting more dramatic every time. The business of gossip is booming and it is no wonder that celebrity bloggers like Miss Malini have made it far in the job of scouting for fresh gossip everyday and feeding our ever-growing appetite for gossip.

To be fair to these stars that have virtually no private life left, the drama that grips the lives of non-celeb people is no less today except that they have the privilege of enjoying a private life and the airing of personal dirty laundry on the public stage is a misfortune dealt out only to the famous. Like a friend pointed out in jest – we now know more about the lives of every celebrity than we do about people in our own families.

I couldn’t help but notice that while a lack of creativity in churning out good, original scripts seems to be sweeping across our film industry today, inducing producers and directors to go for attempting remakes that just wont make the cut, the real life scripts playing out right under their noses would make for compelling masala cinema!

Having said that, there are also those who are fighting a battle so personal that it compels them to end their own lives without any prior indication of the apparent personal struggles they have been grappling with.  Case in point is of TV actress Pratyusha Banerjee’s departure from life via alleged suicide at her home in Mumbai. Yet another heart-wrenching incident added to the pile of such cases among both bollywood, hollywood and TV personalities in recent years like Robin Williams, Jiah Khan, Shikha Joshi – the list is long and the stories wreak of desperation, depression and a personal turmoil so overpowering that it drove them over the cliff.

The actress Richa Chadha tweeted: “We all live on the edge of disturbia, some fall into the abyss.” It seems to be an exact metaphor for the film and TV fraternity today. While Pratyusha’s struggles evidently stem from relationship trouble with her boyfriend, this story seems to have become too frequent. One wonders about the kind of repercussions that the larger-than-life, daunting world  of the entertainment industry seems to have on young minds that drives them to take the leap into the abyss, conceding all strength and will to fight.

The struggle may have been a personal one but isn’t there a pattern forming? The common denominator being the industry itself?

Reality shows like Big Boss have provided a public window into the seemingly real lives of celebrities that bring us just that little bit closer to what they are really like outside the skin of their onscreen characters. And yet Pratyusha’s friends from her time on the show are just as shocked. The sweet ‘Anandi’ from Balika Vadhu, ironically the name meaning the ‘joyous one’, was clearly anything but joyous in her real life.

It is another world with another kind of script. Depression, heart-break, betrayal, anger, rage, disappointment – these are all evils of the mind that can triumph over us if we venture to face them alone. Add to that the pressure and struggles of work, life, relationships that even drive some to all sorts of addictions.

The glamour, glitz and oomph of the film industry is just as generously laced with tragedy, pressures, depression, closeted transgressions and loneliness. The facade of shiny, dreamy celeb -life is clearly a mask if recent stories and news headlines are anything to go by. But then these stories live in the homes of many of us. Celebrity or not.

The difference is theirs is under a permanent public microscope. While some choose to go public with their skeletons, others are battling them alone and behind the comfort (or discomfort) of their own four walls.

While we hope celebrities can learn to keep their personal and legal drama away from the media, we also pray for those like Pratyusha Banerjee who need the strength to battle bigger demons – both outside and within and should not have to deal with it all alone. And then there are the families of these departed souls who are the biggest sufferers of all.

Complicated or not, dramatic or not, life and its struggles are certainly worth fighting for. Giving it all up can not be the answer.

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