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Scandal's favourite children in media spotlight
Subhash K. Jha, Sep 13  [ Tue, Sep 13, 2005 ]
Scandal's favourite children in media spotlight

  • I met Aditya Pancholi a few months ago. He had dropped in at a friend's house to congratulate Rani Mukherjee for her performance in "Black". He had brought along a friend (Irfan Kamal, dance director Kamal's son) and a bottle of champagne. Aditya looked sober, clean and humble.

    He looked normal. Believe it or nuts, a lot of stars are perfectly normal.

    During the 15-20 minutes that he spent in my presence, Aditya was polite, smiling, attentive and soft-spoken. In fact, when one of the guests used abusive language, Aditya actually flinched... or maybe he's a good actor after all! He told me he had stopped drinking and had lost loads of weight. He seemed to be making a new beginning.

    And then... pow!

    Just goes to prove that those who live in crass houses shouldn't throw stones, and shouldn't get stoned.

    Aditya has a history of violent encounters with those who he thinks has harmed him in one way or another. During the last 20 years, there's been an Aditya Pancholi scandal to reckon with at every turning point in the history of peephole journalism.

    Remember how he was accused by Pooja Bedi of raping the domestic help?
    That 'maid' quite a sensational headline.

    For a long time Aditya was known as 'The Guy Who Raped Pooja's Maid'. Just as Madhur Bhandarkar was labelled 'Madhur Balatkaar' after the sordid allegations last year.

    Not quite the perfect calling card for any professional. Madhur bounced back into "Page 3". Aditya was not that lucky. Unlike Sanjay Dutt, Salman Khan and now Fardeen-scandals' super-starry children-Aditya's freewheeling crawl into the brawl just finished off his career.

    Troublemaker, they labelled him. And Bollywood doesn't like that, does it? That's why many potential Preeti Jaiins of showbiz choose to stay mum, even if mom is aware of what murky limits her baby has to cross to get roles.

    Does the casting couch help the wannabes get roles? I'm afraid not. Any filmmaker who has allowed the bed to rule his head has ended up dead. Filmmakers who have cast mistresses and lovers in the past are a ruined lot today.

    Then what? Scandals? Sure! A good juicy controversy helps to get a wannabe noticed. There was a recent incident of those proclaiming loudly that he finds Urmila "voluptuous" and that Sushmita and he were being linked by nosy parkers.

    The two ladies were blissfully unaware of our closet Casanova.

    Continued on next page...

  • Nowadays we have an extremely active abundant, prolific and eager media to cover every scandal. A lot of times we journos get taken for a ride because today the average wannabe is sharp and also-let's face it-there's an acute and urgent hunger for stories to fill up the cinema pages.

    The famished publicity-hungry wannabe would do anything to get written about. He or she could offer you cash and/or kind, promise to become your lover/friend/slave for a lifetime, write off his/her inheritance, sell his/her Merc for muck, provided it makes news.

    The situation is really scary for the scribe tribe. Even if I spot genuine potential in a star aspirant (example Sammir Dattani who's undoubtedly my candidate for Star Of Tomorrow), I think twice before writing favourably about him. It's another matter that cynicism is never a deterrent for me. I'll speak my mind about cinema and its harbingers, no matter what it takes.

    But it's becoming hard to tell the rubbish apart from the genuinely worthy. The thin dread line, dividing projection from promotion and creative writing from marketing, has all but vanished. There's no such thing as a free-and-fair media any longer. Every journalist has an opinion, and not necessarily a non-partisan opinion.

    In film journalism, the potential to be influenced wrongly is immense. I've always wondered how a press-wallah manages to stay objective about a film and its team after availing of his hospitality at the press junkets on foreign shores.

    Er....wouldn't criticising a film or a film-related event after being its maker's/organiser's guest amount to abusing hospitality? It's like telling the hostess her food stank after eating her dinner. Just not done... Or so I believe.

    I stay away from all junkets and freebies. What I can't stay away from is letting my heart rule my head about my friends in the industry. No wonder my dear friend Abhishek always accuses me of being biased towards him.

    Sure. That may be so. I continued to support him wholeheartedly and aggressively during his dark days. I even had the editor of a gossip magazine lecture me about how I'm allowing my integrity and reputation to be tarnished by my proximity to the Bachchans. Today, the same editor waits for hours outside Abhishek's van for five minutes of his time.

    I'm blessed. I back the best. Be it Lata Mangeshkar or Amitabh Bachchan, Shabana Azmi or Sridevi, Sanjay Leela Bhansali or Karan Johar. My best friends are the best in the business.

    Continued on next page...

  • Hopefully Sammir Dattani will again prove me right.