just saw an old interview with aamir khan and imran khan on youtube where aamir made a very interesting observation. He said: when he had a debut film QSQT, there was only one channel and not much film coverage in major newspapers (basically no tabloids and gossip rags). A PR person tried to get some journalists interested in interviewing the new stars, but were not very successful. (Little did they know who they would have had the first digs on had they taken the bait!)
Ironically, today, with so many channels, publications and not to forget online media, there is a desperate quest for news – good, bad or ugly. Good journalism has been left far behind, now anybody’s uncle’s sister’s second cousin’s daughter … (u get my drift) is hot news. A starlet with a buxom bust is the hottest thing in town, before she has even done anything to prove herself. Not only are people looking for space-fillers, quantity has overtaken quality.
Reality TV has added another dimension: your next-door neighbour could be the next reality TV star and from then on the next bollywood king. While the playing field has been levelled, there is no sifting to find who is really worthy of the time and attention.
Coming back to the stars, the biggest problem, is the PR machinery. While PR is supposed to signify a public relations team/ person, facilitating a smooth interaction with the person they represent, instead they end up being a method to put up a wall of falsehood around the star. The PR person is either a mouthpiece for the star’s inane demands (which they cannot ask for directly) or is a filter through which the star is approached – with the normal problems of Chinese whispers, inaccurate depiction and ego hassles. You have to first pander to the PR person’s ego and then pander to that of the star. But before that, you need to be able to access the PR person. In most cases, the PR person is so busy (either taking up too many stars are one time or simply pretending to ignore calls that they are just not up to taking) that you need to go through hell to get one simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ out of them. If the process involves getting approvals/ agreement from the star, one can just forget it ever happening. The PR people can be vindictive, rude, dishonest, unavailable and deeply inefficient. It is possible the stars would never know that their PR people are actually giving them a bad rep and dissing them to the media. Or maybe, the stars know, because that’s exactly who they are?
The tables have truly turned. At one point of time, the stars needed the media, and made themselves available to them. Now, apparently, the media needs the stars, and they have to cater to their every inane demand to get a story. Every little wannabe actor, one-movie-old or debuting wants to be on magazine covers. But no one stops to ask themselves – ‘what have I done to merit it?’ And where is the sanctity of true media and journalism, if the media is willing to stoop to all levels to cater to them? Is the pen mightier than the star, or the other way around?
Here’s a another twist in the saga. Stars have now begun to talk to their fans directly. The media and the PR person have been thus circumvented with blogs and twitter. Fans know exactly what their star is doing at any time of the day, what they are thinking/ feeling. What value can media add to a person who is already baring all? The mystery, the art of conversation – taking the time to get to know the reclusive star and drawing them out to bare all, may just fade into oblivion. The changes that we are witnessing show the death of old fashioned celebrity interviews, democracy and independence of the media; and transparency and honesty of the PR person.