How public is private..?


One thing that has baffled me, is society’s eagerness to all things private about celebrities. Why is it that we are so interested in what they do at their private times with family, friends or with themselves. Is it because they are a celebrity and hence there is an expectation that they absolutely must hang their linen, dirty or not on a public platform. Even the sneeze of a celebrity reverberates loudly in news channels and not just in the regional ones but at times even on the national channels where the Turners of the world control them. The newscast also appear extremely intent, serious and academic when relaying information that a celebrity has sneezed. The audience too lap up this information and admirably discuss it with family and neighbors. Nine out of ten celebrity news is absolute blistering nonsense. The media is one which is largely uncouth in it’s portrayal of frivolity and it is most certainly not getting any better.

The last time “karvachauth” came around, the media camped outside the Bachchan household to watch the stars gaze at the moon. A mockery of privacy especially on a family which hogs the limelight in an arena open to the skies on all counts when they are on public space. Yet, repeated demands by Mr Bachchan for privacy in their private space is sneered at. The Bachchans are not the only family in India looking at the moon, so why do we want to know how they looked at the moon or what they were wearing when they were looking at the moon or how the moon in turn looked to them or how the moon looked at them. Yesterday, there were speculations behind the reasons why Sania Mirza’s engagement was called off. A prominent channel, by the figment of it’s own imagination reached a ridiculous conclusion that poor Mahesh Bupathi was the cause. Bupathi has spent time with Mirza training her on court and he is her doubles partner, but does it mean he is literally courting her ? Commendable that Mirza’s family have made an announcement to the media that the engagement has been called off and rightly so have not offered reasons for the same. But, how quick are the media to jump the gun here?

Not to be mistaken, the media are not the only curious cats around, so are we and there are many rats out there who will happily let us feed on them. Rakhi Sawanth is waiting for an opportunity to show the world repeatedly how incoherent she is and how doubly incoherent her ways her. Programs like “Rakhi ka swayamvar” have sucked the life blood out of a vitally important ingredient in our lives called privacy. Programs like Big Boss were also no different, a bunch of mad hatters showcasing to the world what mettle they are made up of and what their innate desires really are on live cameras. But, how crafty are the makers of these shows who somehow have this wonderful knack of capitalizing on our genetically curious nature. Privacy sells and absolute privacy sells absolutely. The more the craving for privacy by celebrities, the more is the breach on their restricted air space. Of course, there are some seasoned ones who fake their incessant demand for privacy and would probably die if they are not followed around by the camera even when they visit the loo.

Then there are books. The last one that shocked the living daylights out of me was Nandita Puri’s disclosures in her book, ” The story of Om Puri” where she revealed her husband’s “sexcapades” with his maid and his relationship with his mistress. Om Puri, is an actor that I most deeply respect and admire and was rather aghast to read about this aspect of his life, that too show cased by his wife. This aspect of the book worked as a great marketing ploy and used very deftly by Nandita. Obviously, readers would want to buy the book especially when one hears that the most respected actor of the country was rolling in hay with his maid. Om Puri, on account of his marriage to Nandita would have shared his darkest secrets and judging by his reactions after the book was published, he must have felt betrayed. Whether Puri was party to the marketing tactics or not can never be known by us gullible lot. The other side of the coin is, can one be true to an autobiography without revealing every sphere of the subject’s life? Do very personal accounts have to be kept so? We are left chewing the cud. Kitty Kelly is also one such author whose writings garner a lot of interest due to her knack of revealing private moments in the chambers of the British royal family. Reading about the Duke of Edinburgh appearing from behind the bushes of the properly trimmed gardens of the Windsor Castle has never sounded more elegant in her books.

Is there a line that needs to be drawn while examining the life of a public figure? I am of the opinion there most certainly must be. Albeit, public figures are under constant scrutiny, they must be accorded that space they can take refuge in. It is easier said than done as the media makes news out of it and tabloids survive on this infringement.  Of late, to keep the paparazzi at bay the western world prefers to sell private moments for a fee to the media. I think this is shrewd. It assures privacy at moments that demand it and it also makes the celebrity monetarily benefit out of his moment, rather than a third person doing so.

Responsible reporting has become a thing of the past, irresponsible heresay is the rule of the day. Indian media is obsessive with celebrities and convert them into cult figures. But if the “watched” craves to be watched, then they have no one to blame and there should be no fuss.

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15 Responses to “How public is private..?”

  1. Hello Sharmila !
    Well … “yai public,sab jaanti hai” 😉 Sorry,but I myself have no promising answer of your question 😦 Just confused after reading your post.I think,more than public,the spicy news by media urges the fans or other people for much interference … maybe ! Love u,bye.

  2. Interesting.

    Public interaction is like wearing clothes. Its nice to have – not a must have.

    The media is our local laundry-man. He draws his own impressions based on the linen he gets to wash…

  3. The insatiable public fascination for celebrities and appetite for celebrity gossip sustains one huge industry that caters to the voyeuristic streak in each one of us. On the other hand, the celebrity who has a constant need to be in the limelight and for whom publicity is oxygen often plays ball. The public is happy, the paparazzi makes merry and merrier is the celebrity. All of this works fine until the celebrity realizes that he is being haunted. But by then it is too late and we have unfortunate cases such as Princess Diana, Heath Ledger, MJ, to name a few.

    • Absolutely right Melwyn. A line needs to be drawn by the media and the celebrity else it can be fateful. You have mentioned classic cases of the media’s prey.

  4. Salman Shahid Alvi Says:

    Reading the first para,I thought of the recent spice in the news about Sania’s breakup.And there you go…..you had mentioned it later I saw.

    Its a matter of fact that the tactics of our media have become so cheap and ridiculous that it sometimes overruns the peripheries of
    modesty just at the cost of adding some ‘Masala” to the Bulletin and to attract TRP’s.

  5. […] Read the rest from HERE […]

  6. Rocky – Thank you, if you like the picture I can email it to you. Let me know.

  7. its complicated. stars & media – they thrive on each other. stars need media very badly initially to become a celebrity and media always need them for business purpose. when an actor becomes a celebrity they suddenly wake up and take a step back looking for privacy.where actually they should draw a line from the very beginning for nosy media ppl. in some cases story is just opposite. who knows what truth is ! its a phony breed !

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