Of sagaa and the showbiz industry

The saga of the sagaa is always sorry for any high-profile celebrity. There’re so many instances of celebs openly challenging their kith-kin of misappropriation and bungling

Red Carpet (Photo courtesy: social media)
Red Carpet (Photo courtesy: social media)

Subhash K Jha

The saga of the sagaa is always sorry for any high-profile celebrity. There’re so many instances of celebs openly challenging their kith-kin of misappropriation and bungling.

Years ago, the divine Nutan took her own mother Shobhana Samarth to court over proprietorial problems. Amisha Patel accused her parents of bungling with her booty. Baap re baap!

But it isn’t always a dog-eat-dog show-world. There’re so many superb examples of devoted friends and relatives who have stood by a celebrity without an accusing finger being pointed at them.

Boney Kapoor is a name that comes to mind. Though I wouldn’t go as far as to say the best thing about Sridevi is Boney, I’d still say the best thing about Anil Kapoor is his bade bhaiya.

Boney put his own life on hold to look after Anil’s career. He produced films, got him roles and nurtured his sibling’s career without a care for his own happiness…until Sridevi came into his life. Then, Boney turned his attention to the new love, even extricated her from a legal dispute with her sagaa sister Srilatha, while Anil was left to fend for himself.

Er…have you noticed? All of Anil’s big hits came during the time when Boney took care of his career? “I wish I had a brother like Boney,” Jackie Shroff would sigh. The only reason Anil raced far ahead of his nearest rival Jackie was Boney.

At the risk of being made out to be a fall guy, there are individuals in the industry who have given their entire life to looking after a star. And never mind if it’s a thankless job. When has Sanjeev Kohli, son of the late composing genius Madan Mohan, ever looked for gratitude? For decades, he has been a loyal surrogate son to the Nightingale, Lata Mangeshkar. Anytime she’s in trouble, he’s up and alert, ready to tackle any eventuality.

Their relationship goes beyond all material considerations. When Sanjeev got married many years ago, Lataji had played hostess. They aren’t related by blood. They’re bonded beyond.

So, who says all relationships in showbiz, blood or otherwise, are driven by self-interest?

The best example of sibling devotion is Sohail Khan. I call him Salman’s Laxman. The loyal and utterly devoted forever-in-the-shadows sibling who’s just content walking in bade bhaiyya’s shadows… all the way to banwaas.

All the fights that Sohail picks are for Big Bro. All the battles that he wages are for Salman Khan.

One only has to see the way Sohail supported Salman during his most recent crisis to know the cruciality of the family factor in any celebrity’s climb to the top.

Often the bond that grows between a celebrity and his/her benefactor is hard to define. How do we describe Nagesh Kukunoor’s companion Elahi Heptullah? The diffident director can’t move a finger without her guidance and support. They’re inseparable. But they do not share a conventional man-woman relationship.

Or the bonding that Asha Parekh shared with her longstanding loyal friend, the late Shammi? They did everything together, from business to socialising. “Shammi Aunty has never allowed me to miss my own family. She was my family,” says Asha emotionally.

Is it rare for such bonds that go beyond the borders of fiscal and practical affinities to exist in the film industry?

Not as much as we are made to believe by Guru Dutt’s Yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaye to kya hai and Madhur Bhandarkar’s Kitne ajeeb rishte hain yahan par image of the ruthless entertainment industry from Kagaz Ke Phool and Page 3, respectively.

The entertainment industry is often capable of unexpected bouts of largesse and selflessness.

Family always comes first. Whether it’s the Barjatyas, Chopras, Johars or Mangeshkars, they all huddle together in one unit of impregnable solidarity.

This is where someone like Sanjay Leela Bhansali suffers a serious disadvantage. For all his genius and undisputed position as the uncrowned king of Bollywood, he’s utterly devoid of a support system to further his interests in the entertainment industry.

Or, for that matter, Ram Gopal Varma. For all his acts of cynical bravado and the large gathering of cousins and colleagues who run ‘The Factory’, there isn’t a single person Ramu can really rely on.

“I’m so isolated from the outside. How do I really know what people think of my films? The people who work with me will either lie or flatter or tell me what I want to hear. I want to go out there and find out the truth about a film. But I don’t know how to,” Ramu said in an unguarded moment.

The feeling of serious segregation from reality, an imminent danger for all celebrities, can only be driven away by genuine criticism. That comes only from a dependable support system from within.

It takes a Hridaynath Mangeshkar to tell his sister that she hasn’t sung a particular track to perfection. It takes a Lata Mangeshkar to accept such healthy criticism with grace.

Otherwise, we all hear what we want to hear.

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