Bollywood stars are at the mercy of the Social Media

When Alok Nath was invited as a celebrity guest on ‘Comedy Nights With Kapil,’ a TV show that normally calls A-listers, he must have been more than thankful to the bunch of people who have given his fame a second lease of life by cracking multiple jokes on his ‘Babuji’ image on social media.

Late last year, character actor Nath (of Hum Aapke Hain Kaun fame), was caught totally unaware when a sudden jocular tsunami occurred on Twitter, unleashing a flood of jokes centering around his ‘Babuji’ image. Soon he was the flavour of the social media, and the mainstream media too took up the story – everyone was talking about Alok Nath making headlines. The veteran actor used the attention to his advantage and managed to revive a waning career. Instead of sulking like a sullen boy at the receiving end of the school bully, he played along and landed a web-series with a popular production house. Kapil’s show was the next stop and now we will not be surprised if Nath makes it back to bigger films as the sought after ‘Babuji’!

The Bhatt of Jokes

Accounts of such trends are on the rise with around five in as many months. Alia Bhatt is the latest to join the brigade. Once the Student of The Year actress failed to answer basic GK questions on the TV show ‘Koffee With Karan’ it birthed a series of jokes on her supposed stupidity. Alia seems to have accepted it with remarkable humility. “I am the first person to laugh at myself. But I always say that I rather be stupid than pretend to be intelligent,” she said when asked if the jokes have upset her.

Most of these jocular series seem to have started without any provocation from the celebrity in question. Other targets include Yami Gautam and Tiger Shroff. Yami Gautam came under fire for endorsing a fairness cream while Tiger’s unique names inspired many a laugh. Yami refrained from commenting and went on with her endorsements and Ayesha Shroff too prefers to overlook the remarks. Ayesha’s son Tiger Shroff is the latest entrant to The Butt Of Jokes club. “The love, admiration and respect that Tiger has earned from lakhs of people far outweighs the few funny comments. I prefer to look at them in a light vein rather than in a negative way!” says Ayesha. There are unconfirmed reports that comments against Tiger may have been orchestrated but Ayesha seems to be unperturbed.

The fact that Neil Nitin Mukesh’s name encompassed three different first names drew much wit on the net too. While the actor did not find the barbs aimed at him translating into film offers, he decided to take it in good spirit. The actor went ahead and retweeted many of the jokes that were being cracked about him on Twitter. Apparently the gags did upset family but Neil handled it his own way. He tweeted, “Seriously laughing that I am trending. Some rather interesting ones out there. Retweeting my 7 Favourite.”

The start

Twitter battles and abuses are as old as twitter itself and have even resulted in some celebrities shying away after getting flak. Stars like Aamir and Shah Rukh Khan have distanced themselves from the medium after some harsh trolling.

The trending started in good humour a couple of years ago when a video take off on Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs Of Wasseypur went viral on Youtube. It was well made and even the director endorsed it. But some viewers have pointed out that the internet gives the armchair critic a sense of power.

Unfortunately, jokes about celebrities catch on more than the positive reviews. Soon we may have a new buzzword: Gangs of Social Media!

Makes Little Difference

So far, no one’s career has been adversely affected. Director-actor Ananth Mahadevan points out, “Some people enjoy doing this. People had even written off Amitabh Bachchan till he got his first hit.”

Recently, Ananth had faced an avalanche of jokes at Himesh Reshammiya’s (non)acting abilities. The lead actor of The Xpose, found himself exposed to barbs. “Even as people target Himesh, many are out writing off Jackie’s son Tiger Shroff. It is nothing to be taken seriously,” claims Ananth.

Sure, the hurt is heaping up though there is no reason for alarm. Not yet. But as the trend gathers momentum, the industry may have to develop a thicker skin to live with this irreversible, irrepressible trend.

-By Noyon Jyoti Parasara, Bollywood News Service

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