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The Magic of Superstars

{ This entry presupposes a reasonable familiarity with telugu, tamil and hindi film industry. Yet, the theme is pretty general and can be read even otherwise. }

Superstardom is a very magnificent phenomenon. This phenomenon has been extremely fascinating to me and I had often thought much about the subject. In very simple terms a superstar can be defined as the person unchained by the character he enacts and it’s him that shines from the character he enacts throughout.

There is a very clear difference between the person and the superstar. And its very much apparent if we tend to look at the personal life of these people. The rebel and angry young man of yesteryears Amitabh Bacchan is seen to be very polite and soft spoken person. The flamboyant and serious looking Chiranjeevi is quite humble and of jovial disposition outside. And of course Rajnikanth the flashy star with his trademark punch-lines and frequently dreamlike fight sequences is very modest and simple in his real life and surprisingly shows a philosophical attitude. SRK often shown to be a flirty and romantic dude, is quite levelheaded and shrewd enough to look into this glitz with some caution.
Well this disconnect between the person and the superstar can’t be more different.

Its often puzzling as to how the alter-ego of a person can be so different. The real person is infact the employee of the myth Superstar. My choice of the word myth is because things such as idolization are quite intangible and can never be verified objectively. The real person and the Superstar are two completely different entities in the minds of the people. Well, it does overlap in many cases, yet the distinction is clear. It is not with the real person the masses adore, it is always the star. The star so completely dominates the person that he loses his identity in many situations.

Superstar is a psychological construct in the minds of people with whom they immediately identify themselves with. And hence the general idea is make the star both real and surreal at the same time. The star is several times very much an ordinary Tom, Dick or our own Hari. He begins with very much the same things expected of an ordinary man. Yet, on the screen, he also breaks down few conventions of real life, bypasses them rather and builds up a successful end where we have a very feel-good experience. He ends up mostly victorious in his endeavors with some exceptions.

Few may question as to why educated and uneducated people alike become fans of these superstars and why they never question the illogical sequences. To measure the power of a superstar one must see how is comes out unharmed from a very dull screenplay and other negatives. The extent to which he can convince masses in apparently unreasonable sequences and cover up inconsistencies of the film with fabulous ease is the real yardstick of his superstardom.

But the question remains as to why brilliant people also admire their favorite stars (especially Indian ones!! few often ask me). The answer to this can be given the famous Alfred Hitchcock’s statement “Where drama begins, logic ends”. When we become so involved in the proceedings of the screen, wherein we don’t view ourselves just as an onlooker but also as one who’s drawn into it, we are totally preoccupied and completely absorbed that our sole concern is to what happens next, rather than to express doubts and point out gaps and holes.

And superstardom is completely in the eyes of the beholder. No doubt !! I personally saw this happening, wherein I was watching a Chiranjeevi’s film with few of my friends. Chiranjeevi was performing some gripping sequence, but while one of my friends, a die-hard fan, adored the ease with which he was enacting it while expressing his adulation over his magic, the other opined that this is gimmick. Any non-fan of Rajnikanth for that matter, would view his films to be full of over action. The larger than life image of Superstars is bitterly resented by non-fans. The magic or mere gimmickries are the words we associate with the same person.

While non-fans complain about the lack of any novelty in their films, the fans admire them precisely because of it. Precisely, because they don’t need to be different to be successful and that they have to repeat being themselves (well, I mean star, not the real anyway).

Well, lets face it, who wouldn’t want to be himself all the time while showing utter disregard to circumstances prevailing. We often are forced to come in terms with embarrassing conditions and to have to accommodate few changes and compromise over few beliefs in order to survive. How refreshing is the very thought, that irrespective of circumstances we retain our own ego and let it shine? This is what I meant when I said that it’s a psychological construct of minds of masses. These subtle yet significant thoughts are often deep within our consciousness. Films are made to connect to those messages and a hit film is often the one which strikes the chord of our hearts and minds. We’re most comfortable when something reinforces what we perceive. The reinforcement has to come subtly so that it may not be perceived directly. Once the trick is known, its no longer magic.

Often, stars are imprisoned in their own images and they’re severely constrained to adopt that same image time and again. A character-artist enjoys complete freedom. And yet, when you’ve imprisoned many hearts of the people in the form absolute adoration, this is relatively a very small price you pay. Isn’t it?

PS: The change in the tone and tenor of this entry stands in sharp contrast with the previous. While the former was somewhat complex and admittedly made complicated, I’ve decided to keep this a light-weighted one. Yet, I’m sure the unchangeable can’t be changed.


  1. hmmm .. i dnt think ppl admire the angry young man .. but the largely successful yet humble personality ... the girls may go crazy over his romancing ways but the middle aged adore him for his humility and the gentleman that he is ..
    see it is not that the person is an employee of the star image .. in fact it's the other way round....

  2. The person AB owes his familiarity due to the star and not otherwise..that he's humble does add to his aura.. but its not the primary cause for adoration..Salman Khan who's definitely not known for his amiability is also a star..

  3. Wow.. am a BIG non-fan myself, so glad to see your thoughts bared on the blog.


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