In a god smitten country like India that believes in elevating sweating men to celestial beings, garlanding and pouring gallons of milk on life size cutouts of movie stars doesn’t seem outlandish.
This is the same country with a startling number of people with inaccessibility to a one course of meal and the same place where self-appointed religious outfits scream out foul at anything that strays to the other side of their imaginary fence of belief.
If irony was a paper democracy that had more gods than men and a tricolored flag to represent, it would pretty much look like India.
As a movie-buff with a constant hand on the pulse of the happenings in the Indian film industry, I could safely say that the gullibility of the demography at an impressionable age is the most targeted spot to leverage on by most stars. They’re minds caught young; fertile strips to sow seeds of imagination to reap dividends of faithful following for posterity.
Almost every movie star who has made it big has done so piggybacking on the ignorance or innocence of his following, seldom by kindling their thought or piquing their intellect.
For the former type of idolization is a convenient binge like fast food, hordes would happily get lured into. The latter style is a touch inconvenient given the tight rope walk that absorbing fiduciary elements to a populist stream like movies is.
It is for the same reason that a Kamal Haasan isn’t as popular with the masses as Rajnikanth is or why a Chulbul Pandey would be the preferred messiah of the masses over a Mangal Pandey .
A simple case of comfort over correct. Excursion over exertion. A general tendency to tilt in favour of a delirious process with cerebral abandonment called celebration. The same process that keep afloat an eternal cash cow of the dream merchants in this part of the world, that’s fondly referred to as ‘masala’ cinema – the ultimate lame excuse to celebrate an individual in the name of movie making.
A personality is born out of a person when a voice that didn’t permeate beyond the studio walls becomes transcendental across states. His stature shy of six feet suddenly turns life size. His aura becomes a bandwidth every movie literate worth his salt wants a piece from. And thus is born an icon.
It’s this space that bestows an individual with a dizzying vantage of popularity from where he can multiply endlessly in terms of prosperity or expand horizontally to form a cult or even float a political party. All at the cost of an outfit that would happily expand and contract to his hits and misses under the homogenous label of “fans”.
Appointing a movie star to be the one to swear by could be a little more consequential than the simple choice it deceives to be at the outset. For a start, it is not such a bad thing to have a man crush on a favorite star. Most of us have our own I suppose.
All that it is needed is a little objectivity to check the possible madness. A clarity to either stop with taking them to only be a face of entertainment or go ahead to broadcast them in the head to be our alter ego. It is without this distinction that a jolly good ride turns a vice at times.
Let’s take for instance take the movies of Rajnikanth. Eight out of every ten movies in his career have him playing a gold hearted low-life(replace with labourer, hooligan,farmer,autodriver, milk-man) who takes on the system or the rich. Even the few times he’s on the other side of poverty line, he’s conned into bankruptcy from where he bounces back to prosperity over a span of a five minute song with a few board meeting montages.
More often than not, this “Rajni-redemption” process is an alter ego establishment ruse among the ticket buying hoi-polloi. In other words, every time his character in a film is pushed to a corner of no return, it infuses vulnerability into the proceedings, making the masses proximate and in the process root for his redemption.
From that point onward in the movie, every triumph of the protagonist, obstacle he overcomes becomes a personal feat to the viewing public that become vested in his celluloid victories like their own. Making the star “play to the gallery” like pied piper.
In short,like in a memorable dream in which one’s alter ego masquerades as the self to do things beyond his reach in reality. A star is a chosen alter ego extension of every fan of his who goes on to live a life of their dreams onscreen.
Heroes who do these kind of movie dress, look, talk in a manner that caters to the sensibilities of the lowest common denominator of audience- the naïve demography of film goers, a motley of unimaginative minds from the lower strata, youngsters on the look-out for someone to imitate or ones from the conservative belts which contribute to the major chunk of revenue.
This demography takes things at face value without questioning the propriety, just the way the men with grease paint and cheesy lines like them.
A true art form invigorates the soul to appreciate the finer aspects of life.A real artist uses his art form to make a better person out of every subscriber to his work. But a movie star is no artist. A star of this kind imitates his audience for their identification, instead of inspiring them to look beyond. He pampers them till a point where their sweet tooth develops cavity.
The “fans” like to be tickled in their favorite spot and their stars have no qualms about getting typecast, being more than content to stay mediocre. They happily do lame things. More often the same things.
Like an eye specialist content with just selling dreams to his blind patients, they’re more than glad to broadcast themselves in the make believe world of their fans.
What these escapist fares do manage to do is to make dreamer out of every fan. A day dreamer who dreams out of his sleep, tempting him a little away from the realm of reality with every iteration.
It is intriguing to observe these star vehicles fashion their lead men beyond the screens into dining table conversations over a period of time. For what starts as a figment of someone’s imagination in no time culminates in an identity crisis, leaving one with nothing but an identity of being a “fan” alone.