Paparazzi culture has exploded in India recently. Instagram, Facebook feeds, digital websites and print media thrive on celebrity scoops and fashion trends. Social media is a giant monster which feeds on Bollywood gossip 24x7.
Paparazzi plays an important role in generating entertaining news and develop bizarre trends such as ‘airport looks’ and ‘gym looks’ to provide additional fodder.
Recently a video of teary-eyed Aishwarya Rai went viral. She was infuriated by the photographers who intimidated children (including her daughter, Aradhya) at a social event. She furiously said "I said stop it.
This is not at a premiere or a public event. Please show some respect guys. What is wrong with you, people”?
It is not very long ago when Shah Rukh Khan lashed out at the paparazzi. The photographers cornered his daughter, Suhana Khan while she waited for the elevator. He said that “They are not movie stars.
They just happen to be a movie star’s children... Don’t assume they will be able to handle the media like I do”.
Alia Bhatt’s sister, Shaheen Bhatt rightly spoke against the aggressive photography which took place at Aishwarya Rai’s father’s funeral. She stated “I have never understood the media showing up to high profile funerals to take pictures of grieving family members.
Death is traumatic enough without pictures of you at your most broken being circulated all over social media.”
In an interview with The Hindustan Times, India’s renowned Page 3 photographer, Viral Bhayani admitted that, “Till a few years ago, I led a simple and enjoyable life… There was no paparazzi culture then... Shoots on locations used to be beautiful, as the stars personally gave us so much time.
No one dared shoot at funerals, and the Page 3 culture was alive and thriving. Today, in comparison, I live like a cop … funerals are paparazzi central, as you get to click celebrities who would never want to be photographed otherwise.”
Clearly, actors and their personal lives are not sufficient to keep the ball rolling. So the paparazzi created a new section of celebs as ‘celebrity kids’. Our Instagram feed is often swamped with their pictures at dinners, cinema halls, airports, and shopping centres accompanied by their starry parents.
In fact, Jhanvi Kapoor and Sara Ali Khan are two stars created by paparazzi. Taimur Ali Khan and Misha Kapoor are nation’s darlings and often spotted with their glamorous mothers.
The truth is that showbiz gossip has emerged as some kind of art form, a true testosterone. Nothing entertains us remotely as much as a good juicy scoop. Our itch to discover and unleash everything about a celebrity has emerged as a lucrative business today.
Blogger Amit Varma from India Uncut believes that paparazzi in India is going to get stronger by the day. “In a cluttered marketplace, sensationalism provides an edge to news coverage, so there will naturally be more money invested in getting such scoops.”
Hollywood celebrities chose to deal with growing paparazzi in a legal manner and set boundaries. The lawmakers passed an ‘anti-paparazzi’ law where it is punishable for anyone to harass a celebrity child to take a picture in public. They can be fined up to $10,000 and could be jailed for a year.
Infringement of privacy is often dismissed as media’s “bread and butter”. With or without paparazzi, it is time to start thinking about where to draw the line.