Friday, April 14, 2006

Megastars & Fans

Chennai, Tamil Nadu : A mini riot erupts outside a theater as many fans are turned away from the box office as all tickets for the first day first show are sold out for Rajnikanth's 'Baba'. It is another matter though, that tickets for the next show are still available.

Rajahmundry, Andhra Pradesh - a group of fans loyal to 'megastar' Chiranjeevi hijack a theater and force the owner to run a poorly faring movie to virtually empty seats for weeks. Reason : they want the movie to complete its silver jubilee by running for 25 weeks to beat rival star Venkatesh's movie which has been doing well.

Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh - A fan commits suicide, after losing heavy bets on the fate of his idol Balakrishna's release. The fans association pressurises the producer to 'compensate' the deceased's family. The producer, already reeling under heavy losses approaches the star's secretary and the two try to talk Balakrishna who is the son of the late NT Rama Rao, former chief minister and demi-god of Telugu movies, into footing a part of the compensation. An argument ensues and the star shoots both the producer and his secretary at point blank range. Miraculously, both survive and blame the star for it. A few days later, they retract their statement blaming the act on some unidentified assailant. Balakrishna, meanwhile gets admitted to the hospital for a 'cut on the finger' !! A few weeks later, the star's security guard is battered to death with a heavy marble table top while no one in the house hears a thing !! No progress has been made in any of the two cases.

Bangalore, Karnataka - Following Kannada thespian Rajkumar's death, riots break out in the city. On the day of his funeral, the entire city is shut down, shops, offices and schools are closed. Buses are burnt and the Deputy chief minister of the state is stoned and injured when he arrives to pay his last respects. Similar scenes had been witnessed a few years back when Rajkumar was abducted by brigand Veerappan. The kidnapping drama continued for months before Rajkumar was released after being paid a rumored ransom running into crores.

Welcome to the world of South Indian cinema. Temples and poojas in the name of the stars are just a mere detail in the passionate world of their fans. Passionate is however, the wrong word to choose. For lack of a better word, crazy is the nearest term I can find. The South Indian fan is a weirdo, he will go any lengths to catch the first day first show of his idol's latest movie. After that, he will see the movie maybe 20 times again, just to see that hot dance number, and walks out of the theater once the song is over !! So often you can find groups of youth staring at the posters of a forthcoming movie and lay huge bets on their fate. Film stars simply rule the South Indian mind.

Psychologists and behavioral scientists term this mania as escape from the dreary realities of daily life - which translates into a release, a near sexual gratification achieved by watching rotund heroines and hirsute heroes gyrate to the latest Vengaboys ripoffs somewhere in the Swiss Alps. When the audience screams and claps as the hero single handedly beats 3 dozen baddies to pulp without breaking into sweat, it is termed as an expression of the underlying rage of the masses against the system. The Times of India, this morning had a 2 column story on various psychologists' views on the mob psychology and the mass hysteria following Rajkumar's death - and my opinion to all is that it is a whole lot of baloney.

Rajkumar was perhaps one of the few cinema demi gods from the south to have not embraced politics, but before him countless others have stepped over to politics capitalising on their popularity, NTR, and MGR are only two examples. Cinematic popularity in the south gives you a whole lot of clout. Stars themselves fuel this fan hysteria to their ulterior motives at many times. And political parties are smart enough to recognise this and they try and recruit as many stars as possible within their ranks, and slowly this malaise is spreading north as well.

Why do you think the crowd erupted at Rajkumar's funeral, it was the work of political goons, try to capitalise on this moment to create unrest, to create a situation to derive political mileage from. Otherwise, why would the deputy CM be pelted with stones. Crazy and irrational the movie fan maybe, but this surely is not his doing.

First it was religion, now it is films the only thing that is now left for the politicians to screw up is cricket, and with Sharad Pawar and his cronies at the helm, I am just wondering how long more before that happens?



9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dude, u say the film fans of the south are crazy,accepted. But when I travelled by train to delhi I found that every single person/citizen north of the vindhyas was crazy. Are'nt u the uncivlised guys that raped and pillaged innocent muslims in gujarat or slaughtered sikhs in delhi. Talk about crazy people. Dude, Bihar,MP and UP are part of "north" india,need I say more.

Rahul said...

Very true, there are fanatic fans in TN and AP in particular. Its a little less in Karnataka. Its non existent in Kerala. In TN, each movie release is just a chance for various fans' assns to start fighting.

nomad said...

Anon : Buddy, I wish you had read my post fully. The second half of the post dealt with how movies and politics are mixed and the passion of the fans is sued by politicians and stars for their ulterior motives. This is just as similar as relegious sentiments have been used for political gain in the incidents you mentioned. Not for once was my post intended to create a north / south divide, neither was it derogatory to South Indians. as a matter of fact, i trace my roots to the south as well and I am proud of it. Instead i found traces of bias against north indians in your post, which i think was highly uncharitable.

nivas said...

IMHO, you are jumping to conclusions too quickly. How many actors have been successful politicians in Tamil Nadu...not more than 2 or 3, but you say 'countless'. And what happened in Rajkumar's funeral procession didn't directly lead to your conclusion of politics influencing cinema - you are assuming too many things in between.

nomad said...

Nivas - the point is not about 'succesful' movie star turned politicians, but about those who have tried to cash in on their cult appeal into the political arena. Look at Govinda, Raj Babbar, Dharmendra, Vinod Khanna up north, what have any of them done for their people. I am talking about how these stars & politicians use their popularity to mislead the fans for personal gains. And I don't think I am jumping to conclusions here.

Anonymous said...

100% true ... even in Malaysia here, there's some psychopath who willing to die for movies.. Don't know why they wont understand that movie only a entertertainment where we waste money and time...

Anonymous said...

To the first Anonymous Coward:

Get a freaking life. Gujarat is part of West India (now West Indies). Get your political facts straight. And shave off those mustaches - Rajani is passe.

- Another Anonymous Coward

Shivangi said...

You've disappeared! And i cant get thru your phone no...

chandni said...

interesting post...makes sense and I agree with you...the public is just so emotional when it comes to their mega-god like stars that they are taken advantage of.

@Anon 1 - what a stupid comment to make. where the hell is he talking about south indians or criticizing them?? What a racist biased comment..and if you had the balls, u didnt have to hide behind "Anon"...i dont know why u guys r so so insecure!!