Brutally Basic Bollywood: Delusion of stardom is Bollywood's unspoken tragedy
Delivering even the slightest non-compliment could leave you marked out as 'the enemy'.
Nothing saddens me more than to see actors wrap their heads around their own illusory stardom and strut around with the attitude that one would expect a man of Mr Bachchan's stature to adopt.
But wait, Mr B doesn't behave like a star. He has never made me feel that he is a star. In a room full of people, he moves forward and hugs you like a long lost-friend. He makes you feel special without trying.
No, I've never had to worry about Mr Bachchan or Anil Kapoor, Dharmendra, Asha Parekh, Jackie Shroff, Waheeda Rehman, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan or Akshay Kumar changing.
It is the ones that are stars in their own heads who bother me. I've seen the change in in a lot of the younger actors who have come in through family connections. Some of them, like Harshvardhan Kapoor and Sooraj Pancholi, don't even have one success to their credit. And still, they behave like stars, empowered as they are by parents who have slogged hard to get their place in the hierarchy.
I made the mistake of telling these two newcomers that they were underwhelming in their debut film. They stopped all conversation with me, wrote me off as an enemy.
Stardom is a crippling notion. It stops all growth in the one who believes he is a star. The very talented Nawazuddin Siddiqui has lately become repetitive. The same dark roles being done over and over again. He needs to emerge from the blinding darkness of his characters and enjoy some light.
But who is going to tell him? And will he listen?
The biggest star of the our Hindi cinema Rajesh Khanna stopped listening to criticism. He only liked yes-men around. Anyone who pointed out the flaws in his fabulous success streak was an enemy.
It takes a lot of courage to face up to criticism when you are riding the crest of success. It takes even more courage to point out mistakes in a successful star.
The most useless exercises in self-congratulations are film premieres, where everyone makes the 'right noises'. No one says the truth at these premieres. Not as long as the star is in hearing distance. Once out of premiere, they bitch the films out.
I've heard only one filmmaker tell the truth to another even at the risk of causing great offence. It was Vidhu Vinod Chopra at the premiere of a Sanjay Bhansali film. Mr Chopra didn't like the film, and he didn't hesitate in telling his ex-protégé so.
How refreshingly removed is this from this other filmmaker whom I heard praising the same film on Sanjay Bhansli's face during intermission. Minutes later, he was sending bulk texts messages to the entire film industry. Only two words: "Shit Film."
The tragedy of our entertainment industry is that it has better actors off the camera than on it. And some of these brilliant off-camera actors are not even professional actors.
(Subhash K Jha is a film critic and movie expert)
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL.)