Bollywood Baatein: Will, weight and stars

Who knows how the minds of superstars work? Certainly not the superstars themselves. Will Smith is a rarity. He doesn’t believe in his own myth. It’s rare for superstars to be so connected to reality

Bollywood Baatein: Will, weight and stars

Subhash K Jha

I have always liked Will Smith. He exudes a rare positivity in his personality. The only time I saw him angry was when a “fan” (male) had grabbed and kissed him on the red carpet. There is only so much adulation one can take…right?

That apart, Mr Smith’s Will-power is exemplary. He never loses his cool in public. Never cheated on his wife. In fact, his wife of 24 years betrayed Will. In a public declaration, she outed her brief relationship with another man. Will Smith forgave his wife. He made sure their marriage survived the storm. Sometimes, it takes just one to clap.

Will Smith is an honest man and an honest superstar. A man who has not become a victim of his superstardom. I know of at least two Indian superstars who are so cut off from reality that they don’t know who they really are. One of them an iconic superstar and a role-model for many actors, is acting all the time. The first thing he does every morning even before brushing his teeth is put on his wig. The performance never stops.

The other superstar is very costly to producers. Besides charging a bomb as his fee, he arrives for a-9 am shift at 5 pm. On top of all that, every film of his needs an extra 1.5 crore Rupees in the budget for photo-shopping his double chins and extra flab during post-production.

How much guts must it have taken Will Smith to click himself with all the flab he has accumulated during lockdown and show his fans what he actually looks like, photo-shopping be damned.

It is rare for a superstar to be so connected to reality. Rajesh Khanna, India’s first superstar lost touch with the real world soon after superstardom hit him. He started believing in his own myth. Every successive superstar in India has been a victim of his own image. They may seem to be down-to-earth and modest. But trust me, they are all oblivious to the real world. To them, flattery is fact. Criticism is fiction.

Do not, repeat DO NOT, make the mistake of taking their offer to be truthful seriously. If a superstar asks you to be honest about his performance, he means he wants to hear only praise. If a superstar praises you for your opinion, it means you have praised him and his work. Try criticism, constructive as it may be, and you are no longer a friend.

I remember one superstar accusing me of being a follower of the ruling government, after I wrote something he didn’t like. I have no clue how my comments on his work reflected any kind of political ideology. Who knows how the minds of superstars work? Certainly not the superstars themselves.

Will Smith is a rarity. This Smith doesn’t believe in his own myth. He can see his paunch.

Bollywood Baatein: Will, weight and stars
Waheeda Rahman and Asha Parekh

On the other hand, Bollywood legends Waheeda Rehman and Asha Parekh refuse to dye their hair to look younger. Belying her 70-plus age Ashaji chuckles playfully as she defends her right to greyness. "I'd rather die than dye. Why dye? Whom are you fooling with that jet-black hair except yourself after a certain age? It is too cumbersome to go through the process of dyeing my hair only to feel good when I look into the mirror . I'd rather be my natural self."

More power to the Smiths and Parekhs of show biz.

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