When TAM ratings (except news channels) were released after a break, news reports spoke of Bollywood-linked content, including movies, propelling different Hindi GECs to the top in different weeks. Why are we surprised? Fame and its following have always had a way of moving from the silver screen to the small screen. Those on the cricketing pitch come a close second, but some of them tower over their peers and even celluloid stars.
Google announced its Zeitgeist for 2012. For the uninitiated, it’s an analysis of over one trillion queries to showcase what the world searched for.
The top three trending people on search in India were (in descending order): Sunny Leone, Rajesh Khanna and Poonam Pandey. At number four was newbie Alia Bhatt, followed by ‘self-styled controversial godman’ Nirmal Baba. Numbers six seven, eight and nine on that list were occupied by Sherlyn Chopra, Yash Chopra, Saif Ali Khan and Diana Penty respectively.
If that was the people list, the ‘trending searches’ list was led by IBPS (banking exam) and GATE exams in an academically inclined (and employment-oriented) India. Sunny Leone follows, with the top five rounded off by Salman-starrer Ek Tha Tiger and Akshay Kumar’s Rowdy Rathore.
Why Sunny Leone scores above some of her senior peers from Bollywood is obvious. She’s got a much-searched genre of films on her portfolio that no other Bollywood star does. But the central point remains the popularity of cinema and film stars in an otherwise entertainment-starved India.
The second most searched sportsperson in the country was Sachin Tendulkar. This list was out before his announcing his retirement from One Day Internationals. And we will do well to remember that he hasn’t been playing all forms of the game with regularity for a while now. While not everyone was in agreement that he should quit or not quit one or more forms of the game, everyone agrees that his following, achievement and stature as a cricketer are unparalleled. Let’s cut back to a legend from cinema.
Around his birthday on 12/12, news started pouring in on South Indian film icon Rajinikanth. After reports on how he spent his birthday, the release of his blockbuster Sivaji in 3D, and more, we read of Rajinikanth’s journey from ‘From Bus Conductor to Superstar’ becoming part of CBSE’s syllabus. The chapter will be under a ‘Dignity of Work’ segment, under a section ‘Learning to Communicate’.
If there is a Sunny Leone who garners search traffic for reasons we’d be less appreciative of, there are much revered icons from the film industry whose inspiring lives offer lessons for the coming generation. In the case of Rajinikanth, parents are more than approving of the right slices of his life’s journey becoming learning material for their wards.
The stories of film stars making the leap into the political arena too, are many. This again is a trend that is arguably more entrenched down South. Not every film star who has taken the plunge, even in cinema-obsessed Tamil Nadu, has succeeded. It takes a star with stature to be acceptable as a leader - or for that matter, to lead, even if not as an elected representative.
Fame of the instant variety earned today, be it in cricket, cinema or reality television, can be dangerously short-lived. All the more reason why genuine admiration that can move the masses, earned over a period of time, must be used for social good.
Whether or not Tendulkar rises in Parliament, he must use the adoration and respect of Indians for their good, in whichever way he feels appropriate and comfortable. In the case of Rajinikanth, it was a chapter on his life. It will be befitting of brand Sachin to do a lot more for India beyond the cricket field, before he reaches that state.