Suddenly, Bollywood actors seem to have found a wonderful way to shed their starry airs and connect with their fans, writes Subha J Rao
“Living a bachelor’s existence in London. And to this spoilt Indian male, the base problem seems to be food. Why can’t I put oats on the fire, and then not forget about them till they burn and stick on to the saucepan?... Any quick, healthy, tasty ideas on offer here? Especially dal. Can’t live without it. Is there a way to cook dal without a pressure cooker in 30 minutes?” — March 01, 2006.
Now, that’s not your average blogger seeking advice. That’s actor-director Shekhar Kapur’s post on intentblog.com, and it immediately endeared him to a whole bunch of people. And, they rallied around to help him out like a friend; his star status was nowhere in the picture. Now, he continues to keep the interaction going on www.shekharkapur.com
Actor-director Aamir Khan talks about everyday things such as having lunch at child star Darsheel Safary’s place, smoking his last cigarette, re-starting the habit to combat tension, the feeling after cutting his hair for Ghajini (My ears REALLY stick out though. Big Ears, that is what I was called as a kid), and the thrill watching a cricket match sitting next to Sachin Tendulkar.
Amitabh Bachchan recently started blogging, and has been at it with the discipline he is renowned for. His fluid prose borders on poetry, and he is no-holds-barred online, and gives back as good as he gets. And, he seems to be loving it too. “Until the blog for the day is put down and done with, until the task of running through the comments…, I remain preoccupied,” says an entry.
The latest to join the bandwagon is Salman Khan. He restricts his blogging to his show, Dus Ka Dum, but throws in little nuggets. “Babu (Siddhartha Basu, the show’s producer) is a perfectionist. How do I convince him that my charm lies in being imperfect? And this is what connects me with people,” he writes.
Communication between the stars and the junta was never this easy. Or, honest. All of a sudden, people seem to be realising their icons are actually human, have their own frailties, and are not ashamed of admitting them. And, they are loving them all the more for it.
Shekhar Kapur started blogging to create a body of thoughts and views on life for his daughter. “But I found people started to respond in a very intelligent and constructive way,” he says.
That is something thinking actor Nandita Das agrees with. Nandita used to write on intentblog, and she says: “There are very few public spaces to speak out or exchange ideas.” However, mudslinging of any sort upsets Shekhar. “Personal controversy of the kind I am reading about is not the fundamental nature or future of blogging. To me, it is a much more serious tool of change, of discussion and sharing.”
But, why blogs? “The blog is like an intimate friend that is always available. You are much more connected to the world, and much more emotionally vulnerable, but you have the option of switching off the screen,” he adds.
However, it definitely is an addiction. “The excitement…of being able to put my thoughts down in a form that will be held in cyberspace forever drives me. That people all over the world are sharing my thoughts and responding to them,” says Shekhar.
Nandita had a different experience, that prompted her to stop blogging. “It was getting addictive and some were using their anonymity to become vindictive. So, engaging in it any further didn’t seem meaningful,” she states.
But, what will keep the traffic going, says the director of Elizabeth, is building a strong community. “I do not believe that taking potshots at each other will sustain any blog, though, it may, in the short term, drive ‘sensationalist’ traffic towards it.”
But, despite controversies, star power will ensure that these blogs survive.
Sample what Mala Subramanian, an Amitabh Bachchan fan, writes with ‘sisterly affection’ on his blog: “You are like a sun or moon to us, not reachable. But now, you are like a relative to us. We can’t sleep without reading and commenting in your blog.”
Salman Khan - http://duskadum.blogspot.com Lots about the show, a little about himself. And, some nostalgia thrown in
Aamir Khan - http://aamirkhan.com/blog.htm The joys and pressures of everyday life. No starry airs here Shekhar Kapur - http:/ www.shekharkapur.com/blog/ Letters to his daughter, philosophy, poetry, and questions on life
Amitabh Bachchan - http://blogs.bigadda.com/ab/ Amazing prose and alive with content. It provokes comment.