Sunday, April 16, 2006

Out here actors have halos!

In a land of "snake charmers, filthy roads and starving kids", the obsessive admiration for film actors is not shocking at all. The craving for a rich and glamourous lifestyle is understandable, especially if it allows you to dream and escape from the daily struggle to feed one's own stomach.
So it isn't surprising that actors are placed next only to God and in some (rare) cases even attain Godliness, with even temples built in their names. It's often this seemingly harmless obsession that suddenly tranforms into a maddening frenzy when something (anything, seemingly harmful) attacks their stars.

And that's exactly what Bangalore witnessed last Wednesday -- a frenzy that killed eight innocent lives and left many more injured. I do have the utmost respect for Kannada actor Rajkumar and I'm sure he too wouldn't have anticipated how his fans held Bangalore city at ransom for a day.

What I saw in the name of grief was nothing but plain, gruesome murder. From burning down streets, to murdering cops, to forcefully shutting down shops and inconveniencing public, the public resorted to violent means, claiming it was the only way to convey their condolence.

Ironically, the "attackers" were not fans but mere hooligans who went on a rampage to destroy the city. They didn't care about Rajkumar, some may not have even known who he was. But they took advantage of the situation to unleash their inner frustrations, which is evident from the scores of video footage telecast of men jumping on buses, burning down petrol pumps, etc.. You even saw many waving to the cameras and smiling -- showing absolutely no sign of grief.

There were fans among these criminals too but why they reacted in such a brutal way is baffling. Their "beloved" actor died a natural death, he wasn't murdered or tortured or crucified. His health had diminished over the past few months and this was not quite unexpected. But the public reaction reiterated the fact that like Gods, they believe their actors are immortal as well.

In another part of the country, the celeb mania was at its peek as well. Public thronged outside actor Salman Khan's house to celebrate his release from prison. It didn't matter if he had wronged -- shot down a few innocent animals or had run down a few people -- all they did pray for was their star's freedom. They are so blinded by the glitz and glamour of the filmworld that they can't see the wrong. For them, Salman is a real-life hero -- his ways or means could never harm anyone.

Last week's twin incidents has left me disillusioned about actors and their larger-than-life persona and I request the public to be more discerning and sympathetic, at least to their less glamourous, fellow human beings.


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