In most other fields, people who achieve excellence take not-being-famous in their stride. Ten years after flying into space, India’s first astronaut Rakesh Sharma faced this problem pretty often but fame is an integral part of entertainment
Shamsher Chandel, The Hush Post: Social and digital media has democratised fame and reach, but it has unjustly so. There could be days when Priya Prakash Varrier’s wink is enough to displace Bollywood giants like Amitabh Bachchan or a Priyanka Chopra’s social media posts or pictures.
The jeopardy is that even the best in the business may not get recognition or simply put, may get lost. This is dangerous, particularly for the entertainment industry. Fame is the very reason people choose to be entertainers apart from money.
In most other fields, people who achieve excellence take not-being-famous in their stride. Ten years after flying into space, India’s first astronaut Rakesh Sharma faced this problem pretty often. His friends had to introduce him to people –“You remember, the first Indian who went to space.”
It was never so with film personalities or cricketers, now it has started happening. The entertainment industry is not the only victim. Cricket too is. Recently, Rishab Pant made a century against England in the just-concluded Test series. While the Shikhar Dhawans and Rohit Sharmas of our world failed. But his name doesn’t ring a bell.
In the past, this yardstick did not apply to a certain man, a cricketer from the yesteryears, Kapil Dev. After he made a crucial 49 runs against Pakistan in 1979, he was almost a household name.
Why are we talking about it now?
What brings it into focus is the 12th Season of the Bigg Boss which started on Sunday. One of the Bigg Boss contestants who was introduced by Salman Khan is already some kind of a ‘celebrity.’ But he seems to be lost in a crowd.
Deepak Thakur has a differently textured voice and has already sung for Anurag Basu’s film ‘Gangs of Wasseypur.’ But he had to announce it on Bigg Boss Season 12’s introductory show that he has sung for the ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ and an upcoming film Mukkabaaz. Deepak is from Athar village in Muzaffarpur, Bihar. He is not the only one who is lost in the crowd.
Music director of Gangs of Wasseypur, Sneha Khanwalkar went to Bihar to discover singers who could sing for ‘Gangs of Wasseypur.’ She wanted someone who could match the coarseness she was looking to sing the famed ‘Womanniya’ song. She found Rekha Jha, who had a sharp yet sweet voice. Later, she found a woman in Benaras, with a gruff raspy voice, Khushbu Raj. Both are brilliant singers, yet, lost — lost in the pool of talent.
Rekha and Khusbu are not part of the Bigg Boss. But they deserve what they didn’t get – credit, something which is not easy to get in the times of social and digital media. One may get lakhs of likes on YouTube or Facebook but still remains a rat in the race.
Aside from Deepak Thakur another Bigg Boss contestant is singer Anup Jalota. He first sang the iconic bhajan Aisi laagi lagan, Meera ho gayi magan, the only song which won him acclaim far and wide in the 1980s. Those were the times of the radios and tape recorders and fewer means of communication. Apart from that, he doesn’t have anything else in his kitty, except routine bhajans and songs. That one bhajan made him a household name. Had Jalota been a young boy living in the present times, he would have probably been lost among those standing every year in the queue of contestants of the Indian Idol organised by Sony. Or at best would have been a copy of the young talent Deepak Thakur. Of course, with Jasleen Matharu as his arm candy or someone even much younger.
For those of you who don’t know this, Jasleen is Jalota’s partner in Bigg Boss and announced being in a relationship with him on the Bigg Boss show. Matharu is 38 years younger to Jalota. But Jalota is lucky, not just for being regarded an ace singer but also for the kind of fan following he has – the first being the 28-year-old lady love in his life.
What’s it about social & digital media that democratises stardom & fame?
The millions of subscribers of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter become the automatic public relations and marketing instruments. Imagine Deepak Thakur got a call from Anurag Basu because the two were kind of accidentally connected on instagram.
However, the downside is that social media is not a two-way communication or a multiple-way communication. It is so exponentially communicative that it can aggressively distract you from the best. Almost like missing spotting of a Virat Kohli-like talent among thousands and lakhs standing in one of the five lakh queues of upcoming cricketers ready to give trials.
Why is the social media so democratised?
The one line answer before an explanation is that it’s all about revenue. When you are on internet — on Facebook or Google — there is an algorithm which decides the choice you make on the basis of the recent browsing history. So you may be in a mood to buy a novel online, but an advert of Nike shoes pops up and you cheer up and think that’s so cool. You forget the book for a pair of shoes. That’s how the social media algorithm has invaded your life. And that’s how a Priya Prakash Varrier wink pops up.
Coming back to the Gangs of Wasseypur singer Deepak Thakur, after having sung songs for two Bollywood films, he had to make his way to Bigg Boss to ensure he is able to grab attention of the right kind of people — the who’s who of the music industry in Bollywood rather than be a part of thousands and lakhs of pop-ups on social media with presence across the world from Mexico to Tokyo and may be back home in Muzaffarpur or in Mumbai for an Anurag Basu to take note of. But that’s a lottery.