When I Became a Taimur Ali Khan Reporter

Pop Culture

When I Became a Taimur Ali Khan Reporter

Illustration: Shruti Yatam / Arré

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verybody was on their feet in the newsroom. The first pictures of Taimur Ali Khan had just come in and this time it was the airport. Could it perhaps be the first “Baby Taimur Airport Look” piece?

The excitement was palpable. The rest of the nation was reeling from the after-effects of demonetisation but the rest of the nation could have been Mars for all we cared. We all crowded around the monitor, inspecting the pictures, screaming headlines back and forth, hoping for some fresh insight on our young subject.

“Put it up, before anybody else does,” was the instruction being screamed every ten minutes from the editor’s cubicle. With each yell, the tension mounted. Which one of Taimur’s pictures should we choose? The decision was fundamentally important.

“He is wearing blue and white, uska favourite colour hai,” exclaimed one. “Yeh naya angle hai,” said another. “C’mon yaar, he is holding his sunglasses in this one!” quickly followed by “He does not look happy, in the fourth picture, he looks like he is ready to cry.” Nothing was feeling right.

And then someone finally said, “He actually looks like the quizzical face emoji in the third picture.” Bingo, we had the headline: “Who Did It Better: Taimur Or Emoji.”

***

When you google Taimur Ali Khan, 75,40,000 results show up. One of them is an essay titled “The Difficulty of Being Taimur Ali Khan”, which was written during the controversy that erupted because of his name, in which we imagine what it must be like to become a Twitter trend from the second you were born, but nothing could have set us in for the Taimur-themed roller coaster that has been the last one year.

While all parents think that their baby is the cutest, the Kapoor-Khans seem to live like it is the truth.

Taimur came into our collective conciousness with the picture of a hospital bed, a smiling mother, and newborn cheeks, red with the exertion of birth. The image launched a thousand op-eds and captivated us all. One year later, Taimur is not just a baby but a cottage industry which is the livelihood of thousands of entertainment journalists and content writers.

I was one of them and Taimur was my beat. I accepted that I’d now be reporting on Bollywood’s youngest Khan and started the process of losing all my dreams of a journalistic career, one clickbait headline at a time. The idea of hounding a baby made me a little sick, but it was either my name on a viral listicle or someone else’s. I lived my life around the many actions, moods, and moments of Taimur and they weren’t much. On the days he came out in public, there was palpable excitement in my life. When Kareena Kapoor Khan did her paparazzi stroll with the baby, I was grateful to her. If there was baby Taimur at a fellow celeb baby’s birthday, that day was Diwali. But during really dire times, all I had were blurry paparazzi shots of the infant, when he was spotted on the balcony of his house, with a white-clad dutiful nanny always by his side.

Was it people like me who created Taimur’s unforeseen fame trajectory, or were we just feeding the forever gnawing mouth of the internet gods who demanded shareable listicles by the second? The celebrity baby beat has great potential of virality because who does not like to look pictures of cute babies; a headline which starts with the word Aww… is sure to twang at the heartstrings of readers. Well the internet as we know it, is a medium that has built itself on cat and puppy videos, and nothing works as well as “adorable” in these parts. And when the rest of the news cycle has nothing to cheer about, who can fault the careworn commoners for latching on to the unsullied pleasantness offered by a famous, chubby baby?

taimur ali khan

If there was baby Taimur at a fellow celeb baby’s birthday, that day was Diwali for me.

Taimur Ali Khan has been unlike any other celebrity baby also because his parents are the shiny white Saif and Kareena, who we feel like we’ve known our entire lives. We knew them when they were with their exes, we tracked them through the courtship and that godawul tattoo, and now we are fond stalkers of their spawn who has also naturally come out startlingly white. The parents have cheerfully accepted their elevated status without embarrassment. While all parents think that their baby is the cutest, the Kapoor-Khans seem to live like it is the truth. Why else would you go out to the balcony after bringing home a baby and then wave to the cameras gathered below?

Taimur is the most popular member of that family. Saif’s box-office pull has waned and and begum Kareena has not been seen on the big screen for two years now. And I, for a second, do not believe that they are not privy to the fact.

I have realised that the often-used cliched “born into fame” is true. Yes, everybody wants to see cute pictures of a baby, but Taimur is a part of the news cycle because he is being cultivated as an extension of the brand that his parents have already established. He is touted like an “it” accessory. And one can simply not be down on a baby. Especially one with light eyes, light hair, and alabaster skin. In the comments section of many websites, he is anointed with the greatest complimented that can ever be, “He looks like he could be white.”

taimur ali khan

Taimur Ali Khan is the most popular member of the Kapoor-Khan family.

So apropos to the headline, which I am sure you only clicked on because it had Taimur’s name in it, what did I learn? Well pretty much nothing. This was never supposed to be a insightful jaunt in the desert, but one thing is clear, Taimur Ali Khan Pataudi’s 15 seconds are not over. Not until his doting daddy continues to buy him a Children’s Day gift worth ₹1.30 crore.

Nobody will put that baby in the corner. Taimur Ali Khan is truly the hero, the creators and followers of celebrity culture deserve. He cannot speak, he is a product of “eugenics”, and on good days, he looks like he could be white. And in India, that is enough for a lifetime.

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