Whenever I hear these lines from Aqua’s Barbie doll I cant help thinking about Aishwarya Rai. I just dont like her….ever since she burst on the screen singing “Thora Sa Pagla thora deewana”. Initially I didnt like her because she could not act. She still cannot act (Exhibit A: Bride and Prejudice, exhibit B: all the rest of her movies) but my disliking of her is no longer based on her lack of histrionic ability. To be objective, my disliking of Aishwarya Rai is motivated not by who she is as a person but more as to what she stands for. Which to me is a manifestation of modern society’s corporate-sponsored worship of vacuous physical beauty to the exclusion of everything else.
Let’s look at Ash. No I didnt mean at her picture——–let’s look at her achievments vis-a-vis the Indian film industry. Some of her most fanatical fans may claim she can act but anyone who is analyzing with their brain knows that her acting is extremely artificial and stilted. Acting ability has not gotten in the way of Bollywood stars producing box-office hits but even here her record is abysmal. And yet she finds herself on the Cannes jury as the representative of the Indian (Hindi) film industry when far more deserving icons (Amitabh Bachchan) stay at home. The reason? Ash looks much better than Amitabh in a back baring dress. Ergo she gets on the jury rubbing shoulders with Martin Scorcese et al. The fact that she makes a fool of herself looking like rogued-up tart is quite besides the point.
But then there she is. The face of Indian cinema. The cross-over queen who shall do for Indian movies what Crouching Tiger did for the Chinese movie industry. Backed by Miramax—she was supposedly even invited to present an Oscar ! She’s on 60 minutes giggling like a 15 year old girl on a date. She’s on David Letterman’s—–rehearsed and stilted in all her plastic glory. Which would all have been fine if she was there as Aishwarya Rai. But no she was representing India—and that’s how the publicity machine both in US and India choose to drum her into public consciousness. Which is why I want to shout out—no no she does not represent me…..oh good lord no.
The same kind of objection I have with the new darling of the Indian media—Sania Mirza. Ok I got it—she won a couple of matches in a Grand Slam……….SO ? Does that justify the media circus around her or the fact that her endorsement earnings are just below Sachin and Saurav among all Indian sportsmen ! I mean Sachin and Saurav have reached their superstar status after years of consistent performance and here comes Ms Mirza—-a couple of victories and she is there ! Leander Paes had many significant victories—-the Davis Cup miracle they pulled off in France , his total demolition job of Goran Ivanisevic…..Ramesh Krishnan took out Wilander when he was World No 1 in the Australian Open. But here comes Sania and people are asking Leander who? Sania may go on to become one of India’s legendary sportspersons but she has done nothing till today that warrants the hype surrounding her. Her status is only because she has one common characteristic with Aish—she is easy on the eyes. Ramesh Krishnan’s pot belly vs Sania’s legs—–guess which one wins !
Why has beauty replaced ability? Why? What happens to overweight, male, talented people like me? Who will look after me and Arjuna Ranatunga ? Who?