Walking out of the Mumbai airport, have you ever heard coordinated voices shouting, “Ma’am/Sir ek photo, ek pose”? If you’re lucky enough to be loved by entire India, the pleas may be for you. But if you are one among the millions who arrive in Mumbai every day to pursue their ambition, your curious eyes may be trying to look for this ‘oh-so-popular’ person next to you. But then masking in post-Covid world has made it harder to guess. So, what next? The obvious answer – Instagram handles of Viral Bhayani, Yogen Shah and the likes.
The one thing common between a handful of the two classes – the popular and those curious about the populars – are some unsettling questions: “Why would somebody get into your face? Aren’t certain part of lives supposed to be private?” While hundreds of us belong to the second category, it’s the gentry of Anushka Sharma and Karan Kundrra whose voices matter to a certain extent. Yes, ‘certain extent’ because the answer lies in ‘symbiosis’ – a mutually beneficial relationship between the celebrities and their fans and paparazzi.
Recently, TV actor Karan Kundrra lost his cool when the paparazzi followed his actor girlfriend Tejasswi Prakash to her home.
“Arre woh safe nahi hai. Ghar ke andar ghus rahe hain, aise accha thodi nahi lagta hai. Mazaak thodi hai, izzat karte hain, respect karte hain iska matlab ye thodi ki aap ghar ke andar hi ghus jaao. (It is not safe. They are entering her house. It’s no joke. If we respect you, it doesn’t mean you will enter the house.),” he told the paps at Mumbai airport.
Weeks later, the couple was spotted at choreographer Nishant Bhat’s birthday bash where they were not only posing for the paparazzi but also reacting to their comments: “Karan bhai, bhabhi ko I love you bol do” (just say I love you to her).”
Anushka Sharma too has lashed out at the media for invading her privacy. Sharma had called out a paparazzo for clicking her picture with her cricketer husband Virat Kohli in their balcony. “Despite requesting the said photographer and the publication, they still continue to invade our privacy. Guys! Stop this right now!” the furious actor wrote.
Recalling the incident, Raju Shelar was quoted by ETimes, “When Anushka and Virat had come to reside in their flat, I had shot a picture the same night. Anushka didn’t like it and requested not to invade their privacy. I stood there for a picture till 11 pm that night. They had some party. Next day I went there again at 7 am. They came into the balcony around 9 am when I had clicked that picture.”
But recently, they were seen posing for the shutterbugs outside Mehboob studio in Mumbai’s Bandra.
Sometimes Fans Too are Caught on the Wrong Side
Television actor Rashami Desai recently reached out to Mumbai police on Twitter, alleging that fans of Umar Riaz (her co-contestant in Bigg Boss 15) were “harassing” her by “dragging” her family into a controversy. The row started after Desai hinted that Riaz might not be single, drawing wrath of his fans.
Katrina Kaif was mobbed by a group of people in 2010 during a promotional event. Her co-star Akshay Kumar had to form a human shield around her to protect her from the crowd. Sushmita Sen in 2009, Sonakshi Sinha and Deepika Padukone too have had bitter experiences.
However, it’s not just celebrities who have been at the receiving end, fans have had their share of trauma too. In 2008, Govinda had slapped a fan, while Salman Khan’s bodyguard Shera had thrashed an admirer because he had come too close to the star and his mother.
Some of these celebrities, yet, have managed to win applause. Superstar Shah Rukh Khan was hounded by cameras when he had gone to meet his son Aryan, who lodged in Mumbai’s Arthur Road Jail in connection with drug case. The Bollywood star didn’t react to the cameras coming too close to his face but chose to greet people waiting outside to meet their jailed relatives.
How Important are Paparazzi and Fans
Long before we noticed shutterbugs hovering over celebrities, it was Princess Diana who realised the power of paparazzi. She had learned how to manipulate and control the photographers who pursued her ever since she started seeing the heir to the British throne, Prince Charles, in the early ’80s.
According to a report in TIME magazine, after an estimated 750 million people tuned in to watch Diana’s wedding to Charles, paparazzi began documenting her every move. The Princess of Wales steadily became the most photographed person in the world, with paparazzi offered up to GBP 500,000 for even grainy pictures of Diana.
The dynamics have changed now with the emergence of social media. You can track every happening in your favourite star’s life with just a click. The paps have recently been following veteran actor Neetu Kapoor, and repeatedly asking her about son Ranbir’s wedding to Alia Bhatt. Saif Ali Khan faced the cameras too close to his face as he went out for lunch with his children Sara and Ibrahim. However, none reacted and Sara was seen smiling throughout.
A few months ago, actor Raveena Tandon had admitted that with the shutterbugs lurking around all the time, there is no such thing as privacy in a celeb’s life. “This is the way of our chosen life. This is part of our industry. It’s a price that all of us have to pay,” she was quoted by ETimes.
When to Stop?
Whether you agree or not, we all secretly enjoy seeing our stars getting caught on camera. It gives us some kind of weekend pleasure-cum-leisure to wonder what Ibrahim Ali Khan was doing with Shweta Tiwari’s daughter, Palak; or who’s that young celeb Saba Azad with whom Hrithik Roshan was spotted at a Mumbai restaurant.
By now, celebrities too are aware that they can’t completely evade the cameras. Also, because they know that’s the best way to keep in touch with their fans. Paps too oblige requests from their stars at times. That’s the reason why Raveena Tandon’s children have not been seen on cameras till now.
Photographers have revealed celebrities reached out to them during Covid-19. “The celebrities were always kind to us. During the pandemic, some of them contacted us on their own and donated money to each of our individual photographers during the time of crisis,” an ETimes report quoted Yogen Shah.
However, there are times when both fans and paparazzi do not leave any chance to know about a celebrity, especially when they are a burning topic.
We can’t forget the visuals of Rhea Chakraborty being chased by the paparazzi all the way to her home two years ago when she was in the eye of the storm after her actor-boyfriend Sushant Singh Rajput’s untimely demise.
In 2021, when actor Sidharth Shukla passed away, the cameras were all around an inconsolable Shehnaaz Gill. As she arrived at the crematorium, the lens stuck to her car’s window till she was guarded inside by her brother, who kept requesting the media to move away and give them space to walk in.
I believe that there should be certain guidelines issued either by individual organisation or by a government body, spelling out where paps should draw a line, especially in the world where internet has more power than any other medium. While some may agree with me, many others may not share the same opinion. It’s for us to decide individually what content we enjoy and what irks us.