Do Bollywood stars share their star power by getting involved in sports or are they looking to steal the limelight from the sports stars? That is subjective and depends on the star and context. A convincing argument can be made either way. Here’s a look at both sides of this issue:
Siddarth: Fame is seen as a fickle thing. Something not to be aspired for. Some people have too much of it and are willing to share it for a good cause. Like our Bollywood stars. The Bollywood stars are coming out in full force to support our Olympic stars. An argument can be made if the Bollywood stars are coming and supporting them to piggyback on their popularity (a la Poonam Pandey) or if they are doing so to share their star power.
Zeba: Fame is also an addictive thing. The minute you start getting some of it, you’re inevitably left begging for more. There isn’t anything as too much fame. Fame is something that is just never enough.
Siddarth: So you think that some of our Bollywood stars look at the Olympics as a platform to increase their own visibility?
Zeba: It is also something that we all aspire for. We all want to be famous and why not? Who doesn’t want the world to know their name? Who doesn’t want the world screaming at their feet? Of course our Bollywood stars look at the Olympics, and any other mega event, sporting or otherwise, as a platform to increase their own visibility.
Siddarth: It can be a symbiotic relationship though.
Zeba: I am not saying there is anything wrong in wanting to be famous, but the Olympics is an event for the athletes to be in the limelight. It’s their chance to bask in the glory they so rightly deserve. Why take that away from them? In India, we worship our Bollywood stars. Anywhere they go, everyone and everything else will be overshadowed.
Siddarth: It’s not necessarily taking away. It’s not like Kanye West going ‘Yo Imma let you finish, but lemme share the limelight’ then he bumps them off stage. Bollywood stars are worshipped but they can use that to extend the same aura to the lesser known athletes.
Zeba: We’re the lot that likes the masala and all the gossip that comes with it. Case in point being the infamous tress-passer among the Indian squad at the Opening Ceremony. Madhura Honey is no Bollywood star, but she grabbed more headlines than our Indian contingent themselves. And, once again, sports lost. Point being, wherever you see a Bollywood star, rest assured there’s going to be a lot of masala and a lot of gossip.
Siddarth: I think I’ve put Madhura Honey in her place. Just Google her name and click on the 3rd result. You make a good point in that we choose to focus on the masala, even without a Bollywood star. So let there be masala and gossip, but it can also be about the athletes.
Zeba: So imagine the touch that a Bollywood star would add to it!
Siddarth: Look at Neetu Chandra. She routinely promotes basketball events. She even played in the All star game last year. Yeah, the team lost but that’s a great example of a star using her popularity to popularize a game.
Zeba: Sadly, people aren’t as interested in talking about a Deepika Kumari or Krishna Poonia or even Yogeshwar Dutt for that matter as they are in talking about a Katrina Kaif, or Kareena Kapoor or Shahrukh Khan.
Siddarth: Sad but true. But those stars who tweet their support may be doing good. I have to just hop in your side of the fence for a second. Amitabh Bachhan tweeted that Mary Kom did Assam proud. Ouch. She’s from Manipur. Ok, switching back to my side. Leap. Senior Bachhan has had the dubious honour of getting to carry the Olympic torch. I call it dubious since the torch can be a thing of pride if you are an athlete and a lightening rod of controversy if you are a celebrity. People talk about more deserving candidates who have made a name through their athletic accomplishments. And Amitabh risked that backlash when he chose to carry the torch.
Zeba: Exactly! Why was Amitabh made to carry the torch? What has his contribution to sports been apart from the occasional tweets?
Siddarth: He did help in bringing the event to the spotlight.
Zeba: Amitabh Bachchan is what makes most Indians sit up and take notice, and it’s sad that we had to rely on an actor to get the country to take notice of the Games.
Siddarth: At least his fans in India who are ignorant of the sport knew that Agneepath is burning in London. Maybe Rahul Bose would have been a better choice. He promotes marathons all over India and was a Rugby player too.
Zeba: Going back to the beginning of the conversation, if Bollywood stars were really concerned about the upliftment of sports and the people who participate in them, why not invest a few of the million bucks that they make into the games?
Siddarth: Because a public appearance is of more value to them and is cheaper on the pocket.
Zeba: We all know how deprived Indian sports is of the funds, why not have our stars contribute to its development. Not like it’s going to make a huge hole in their pockets anyway.
Siddarth: There are stars who wholeheartedly try to promote sports, there are those who just make an occasional appearance here and there, and there are those who just want to piggyback on the popularity of the sport.
Zeba: My problem lies with the third kind.
Siddarth: I’m happy with the first, cool with the second and shaking my head at the third.
Zeba: That feeling is mutual.
Siddarth: The first two kinds, even if you dont like them, are a necessary evil to promote the sport through the ‘masala’ exposure.
What do you think? Where do the Bollywood stars stand according to you, sharing or stealing?