Special to Times of Oman
I have never been able to fathom this. I did not as a starry-eyed teenager; I do not as I walk now on the other side of life. Why are we so crazy about celebrities? When and how appreciations of one's talent transcend logic to take shape of blind love and devotion? When do we start deifying them?
I was in school when Rajesh Khanna ruled the silver screens in India. His unique style of acting and his romantic gestures understandably earned him loads of fans. But, when he married at the height of his popularity, I know of girls who cried and shunned food for days! How was that possible?
During my college days, Amitabh Bachchan and Rekha went to Shillong for a shoot. Fans waited for hours in front of the Pinewood hotel to catch a glimpse of the superstars. When I met a friend in the subsequent weekend, she narrated her 'surreal' experience.
"You know what? Amitabh Bachchan actually patted on my cheeks! Uuuhhhh! I could not sleep for the whole night." Goodness me!
I told her, "How silly can you be? How can you get excited when a man touches your cheek without even knowing your name?" She did not talk to me for months!
Elvis Presley was awesome in his heydays. I read that men used to encourage their wives to go to the front rows in Elvis' live concerts to touch his hands. It seems the euphoria lingered on well beyond the show bringing in exceptional excitement to their relationship. Yuck! The other day, we went to see Shah Rukh Khan's live concert. I could barely take my eyes off a young girl a few rows ahead of us. She did not stop shouting for the entire two hour show, "Ali, Ali! We want Ali!"
She continued yelling, after stopping once in a while to give her lungs a break, even when Ali was not on the stage.
When Ali Zafar sang, she started shouting at the top of her voice, "Ali, I love you! Ali, marry me!" What drives fans to cross all limits of rationale to compromise their individuality?
In a one day international between India and Australia in Melbourne, a young girl proudly held a placard that said, 'Rohit, marry me, please'.
Why did the girl take her admiration for a man's cricketing talent to a level that is meant to be so special and sacrosanct? Didn't she know she was compromising her self-respect to propose in public to a man she would never get to know? For fun?
Come on, you never do certain things just for fun! Let's not fool ourselves. It is nothing but a slaughter of one's ego at the altar of celebrity worship. South Indian heartthrob Khushboo had a temple in her name built by fans.
Millions around the world were glued on to televisions and thousands waited patiently for hours in London to catch the first glimpse of the youngest British Royalty. These are manifestations of the same story.
Such obsessions have led to tragic results as well. From John Lennon to Princess Diana, this world has witnessed many unfortunate incidents that should never recur.
This overwhelming fixation, this unbecoming capitulation to the aura of celebrities can be traced to a potent mix of talent, glamour, wealth and high octane publicity. Beware, celebrity obsession may not kill; but if it comes at the cost of self-belief and positive ego, it could hurt. Is anyone listening?
The author is a freelance writer based in Muscat. All the views and opinions expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not reflect those of Times of Oman.