By Purba Ray Apr. 25, 2020
Quarantine has knocked off the pedestal from under our beloved stars and right now, they feel past their expiry date. I don’t want to watch Katrina do jhaadu-pocha or a Kareena Kapoor tutorial on how to wipe an already clean table. I’d much rather watch ordinary folks going about developing a new skill.
This lockdown seems to be stretching like Draupadi’s sari during her cheerharan. None of us knows if it has an end. Not even Krishna. I’ve even stopped pinching myself, hoping I’ll wake up from this bad dream. Especially when I am on my fours trying to take out the stubborn clump of hair from behind the bougainvillea pots, its sinewy branches scratching me like a heroine in distress. I am looking angrily at my husband (my default expression these days), who has taken a break from his million con-calls to play the cello. He made it at home by looking up a tutorial on YouTube. I miss my dining table though.
The tune is sad. My spirits are low and so is the stock in my bar. So I take my woes to Instagram instead to stalk my favourite tinseltown stars. I could do with a massive dose of inspiration from these demi-gods with perfect hair and skin and abs flatter than my six-month-old soda. Maybe I’ll get to watch them somersault to their organic veggie patch, shimmy seductively next to the clump of juicy tomatoes, and turn into bloody mary with a mere wave of their manicured hands. Or learn to recite The Iliad while I change sunglasses like Rajinikant. Instead I watch a Kareena Kapoor tutorial on how to wipe an already clean table and I almost choke on my Dalgona that I lovingly beat for hours. I absentmindedly caress my newly sprouted biceps.
Since I am in the mood to be disappointed again and again, I watch Anupam Kher ramblings that’ll put even a geriatric to sleep. Sakshi Dhoni is sucking her husband’s toes but looking quizzically at the camera, and Katrina is playing cricket with her jhadoo. Even Shabana has the temerity to let me down and is reciting some useless poetry by Javed Saab and she forgot the lines. But still went on. Matlab kuchh bhi?!
Never before has the contrast between celebs and ordinary folks been more startling.
I know this outbreak is nightmarish and has turned our lives upside down. But if someone is really losing their shit, it is our celebrities. With no products to endorse, no grand launches to attend in their designer threads and no controversy to engineer before a film release, they must be experiencing “main kaun hoon, kahan hoon” crisis.
Look, I get how desperate you are right now for our attention that’s more focussed on inanities like “will I still have my job at the end of this month?” But your desperation to stay relevant is only making us painfully aware how annoying you all are. Because by god, if I have to watch any more of your soulless mumbo-jumbo and Neha Kakkar turn her pillow into a dress, I’ll come and confiscate your smartphones.
Quarantine has taken the sheen off our stars and never before have they looked more vapid and clueless. Even though a part of us grudgingly accepts their onscreen persona that we are love is more a creation of a hard-working, behind BTS team of brilliant minds, one would have hoped some of it had rubbed off on them.
With no rehearsed lines from a script, their team of stylists and PR and clever camera angles, their feeble attempts to connect with us via BJP (bartan jhadoo pochha), flipping amoeba-shaped omelettes in their sea-facing mansions is more yawn-worthy than endearing. Just stop will you? Because right now death from cringing seems more real than death from collapsed lungs.
This outbreak is nightmarish and has turned our lives upside down.
And it’s not just our desi celebs who are failing to a connection and coming across as whiny losers. Ellen DeGeneres complaining about feeling like a prisoner in her palatial mansion, Kendall Jenner self-isolating in her itsy undies, or Gisele Bundchen finding peace from Coronavirus in front of a waterfall are all painful reminders of how far removed they are from reality.
A New York Times article, titled “Celebrity Culture Is Burning”, has an insight into this phenomenon. “Among the social impacts of the coronavirus is its swift dismantling of the cult of celebrity. The famous are ambassadors of the meritocracy; they represent the American pursuit of wealth through talent, charm and hard work. But the dream of class mobility dissipates when society locks down, the economy stalls, the death count mounts and everyone’s future is frozen inside their own crowded apartment or palatial mansion. The difference between the two has never been more obvious. The #guillotine2020 hashtag is jumping. As grocery aisles turn bare, some have suggested that perhaps they ought to eat the rich.”
So now that the stars are no longer entertaining, I’d rather find my entertainment watching the dude on Twitter sashay in a velvet curtain cloth and then turn it into a series of runway-worthy garments with just clever folding and tucking. Mr Sharma is already his neighbourhood star after his Pankaj Udhas performance using his microwave as harmonium. Whether it is lockdown humour, art, memes, it is the ordinary folks who are dishing out extraordinary content and we are lapping it up.
Quarantine has taken the sheen off our stars and never before have they looked more vapid and clueless.
Never before has the contrast between celebs and ordinary folks been more startling. And it is folks like us who are slaying lockdown and have turned it into an opportunity to pick up new skills and seek solace in creative pursuits. Ok, not all of us. Many of us are struggling trying to combine working from home and homeschooling, with seemingly endless chores. But the rest are determined to make the most of this exile. Bathroom singers are now balcony stars. Saloni who’d never seen the inside of a kitchen is now channeling her inner Nigella and baked an almond feuille from scratch. Garima passes her spare time creating stunningly intricate doodles that she shares on Facebook.
Quarantine has knocked off the pedestal from under our beloved stars and placed it under regular folks. And right now, most of them feel redundant, past their expiry date and less desirable than toilet rolls. If they really want to do something useful, they could learn from Princess Sofia of Sweden who has volunteered to cook and clean at a local hospital amid Coronavirus. Be a Salman Khan who donated truckloads of food to daily wagers. Or a Rihanna whose foundation is channeling funds for frontline healthcare workers, food banks and research to develop a vaccine.
Quarantine can take away your charisma. But you still have your wealth.
But if even that’s too much to ask, I suggest you stop filming yourselves doing inane shit because all it does is make us feel worse about this pandemic.
Nearly funny, almost liberal, rarely serious, Purba likes to keep a safe distance from perfection. Unfortunately she has an opinion on everything, fact or fiction, beginnings or ends, light or heavy, long and short.