Stars and scribes

ONCE UPON a time actors did just what they were supposed to do —act. Now, the winds of change are blowing in Bollywood too. Bollywood big shots are playing chat show hosts, interviewers, columnists and a lot of other things ....

By N Anandhi (Contributor)

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Published: Sat 12 May 2007, 10:13 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 12:31 AM

you really don't expect them to, at least in real life. Perhaps one of the first actors to start the trend was Shatrughan Sinha, who deviated a little from his chosen profession and answered snappy questions with a pinch of salt for Filmfare magazine. Years later, more and more filmi people are invading the journalistic space, and doing it with élan. Here's a look at some tinsel townies that have blurred the line between entertainment and journalism

Kajol and Aamir Khan

Before Fanaa released, Aamir Khan and Kajol graced umpteen posters and TV spots. However, the two couldn't lend the personal touch to the promos because they failed to give any exclusive interviews. Yash Raj Films‚ strict PR team made access to the stars difficult and as a result, the audiences couldn't get their fill of the two leads. Then, YRF's PR team came up with an innovative idea get the lead pair to interview each other. The concept found favour with the makers of Fanaa and the rights were sold to a private television channel for a smart price. As a result, all embarrassing and unwanted questions from prying journalists were thwarted and a win-win situation was created for everyone involved in the film.

Vidhu Vinod Chopra

Though Eklavya struggled at the box office, Vidhu Vinod Chopra worked hard for the publicity of the film. Again, keeping with the trend set by Fanaa, he interviewed all the cast and crew of the film himself and sold it to the media. Among those interviewed were Sanjay Dutt, Saif Ali Khan and Big B himself and the pre-release press packs were couriered to media houses. Vinod smartly sprinkled a few previously unknown facts about the movie in the interviews, cleverly avoiding questions that would reveal details he didn't want divulged.

Simi Garewal

Perhaps the first talk show to be hosted by a former actress, Rendezvous With Simi Garewal has acquired quite a fan following. Simi, the glamour girl of yesteryears, successfully managed to get stars to open up about their private lives. Simi's signature white clothes even sparked a spoof Simi Girebaal on MTV where Cyrus Sahukar parodies the actress and last we heard, that one had gained a considerable fan following as well.

Karan Johar

Koffee With Karan is easily one of the most popular celebrity chat shows on Indian television today. The show features the biggest stars of Bollywood and pits rivals and friends against each other. Karan Johar has gone from being a director to an anchor-journalist with remarkable success. His tongue-in-cheek manner and somewhat sarcastic demeanor keeps audiences glued to their seats and he's even beaten Simi Garewal at the talk show game. There are few top actors who haven't appeared on Koffee With Karan.

Pooja Bedi

She was always a sassy one, willing to experiment with life in general. Known best for her role in Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander and the controversial Kamasutra condom ad, Pooja made a spectacular comeback after marriage, divorce and a hiatus from Bollywood. She returned with celebrity interview shows Not Just Page 3 and Just Pooja and interviewed showbiz personalities. Though Pooja's straightforwardness managed to irk Big B, the episode did not harm her career in any way. Today, she writes for some of India's top publications and is a well known face in entertainment journalism.

Abhishek Bachchan and Rani Mukherjee

Before the release of the hit movie Bunty Aur Babli, Yash Raj Films came up with an innovative idea. The company tied up with a leading private news channel and made Bunty and Babli, that is, Abhishek Bachchan and Rani Mukherjee, host their primetime news show. So even without any journalistic experience, the two took up the demanding task of becoming primetime news anchors. Though the plan worked for the film, it left critics a little upset over the direction journalism is taking.

Rahul Bose

Besides being a noted actor, Rahul Bose is known to be active on the social work circuit. After the tsunami and Mumbai floods, he turned citizen journalist for a leading television news channels. He also writes for a number of publications.

Raveena Tandon

Rahul Bose inspired Raveena Tandon to roll up her trousers and wade through the flooded streets of Mumbai to cover for a private television channel the effects of the rain on her locality. She also went a step forward and told the authorities to do something about the situation.

The above are just some successful examples of celebrities becoming journos easily. But the reverse is often harder. Kunal Kohli and Pritish Nandy are two examples of journos who haven't managed to attain star status. But does the blurring of entertainment and journalism augur well for the latter? Journalist Anusha Gill has an interesting tongue-firmly-in-cheek take. "Well, at least the actors now know why journalists bombard them with all the questions they don't want to answer. When they are faced with unpleasant questions, every celebrity thinks that he or she would be a better journalist than the one posing the question. So put the celebs in our shoes and watch the fun," she says. Film critic Amod Mehra doesn't even consider it a trend. "I don't think it is a trend yet. It only happens once in a blue moon. And I don't think there is anything wrong with it. At the end of the day, it's all publicity and marketing gimmicks. Everyone benefits from it. It is a refreshing change for the audience too. So why not?" he asks. One lobby that is all for celeb journos is the audience.

One common thing between the two professions, however, is that both are mass media. So overlaps come as little surprise. Whatever the future of the trend, for now, it's working quite well. And will continue to do so for some time to come.

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