Gossip Girls (And Boys)


[This article appeared in DNA, July 3rd, 2011]

Many years ago when in high school, I would make it a point to go to the barber shop during Sunday mornings, precisely when it would be chock-a-block with patrons. This was so that I could wait on the rickety bench for as long as possible and read the movie gossip magazines, banned as they were at home. To paraphrase Forrest Gump, they were like a box of chocolates; you never knew what you would find. Hey look there is Mamata Kulkarni doing an asset cover-up shoddier than Bofors and oooh my God, here is shirtless Marc Zuber (he was slated to be the next big thing at one point of time) on a satin sheet with a come-hither look. But pictures are after all pictures. They became boring after a while.

What did not however were the gossip titbits— who was going out with who and who did not know about it. This was valuable information, to be exchanged back in school, hiding in the back benches during Geography classes.

Why just star-struck schookids? Everyone, from the sleepy typists to the garrulous aunties,  loved gossip magazines.  What better way to get a conversation going than with a “Have you heard about….?” After all which human being would not be interested in that hunky star who got married twice or the heroine who slapped the top producer in a party? Hence so it came to pass that gossip glossies came to occupy a central position in our lives, even though many would deny reading them, nudging the glossies surreptitiously under the bed when guests arrive.

Gossip rags still exist but sadly their golden age, like those of the once ubiquitous VCRs, are long gone. For naughty…err…glamorous pictures there is Google Image search. Quick, painless and easily minimizable. For filmi gossip, people no longer rely on specialized magazines. Newspapers give it to them, mostly on the front page, in the place where once used to be news. There are cable channels which beam gossip programs round the clock, and if that is not enough, gossip-related websites are springing up every month. Then there is the twitter revolution, getting rid of the middleman between Gods and their devotees. Now followers, at the click of a button, may bathe in 140-character sized manna direct from the heavens, and maybe, once in a blue moon, in return for a fawning tweet get a response from a star (or most probably from the  twenty-three year old public relations guy who runs his account).

Here though is the rub. What you get today in the mass of media is not really “gossip”, it is PR babble planted by those behind movie and product promotions. If you sit through a half-hour “chatpata” program, you will see about half its running length is devoted to showing so-and-so star inaugurating a jewelry store, announcing her own perfume line or attending a muhuraat and the other half wasted by the host rolling her eyes round and round as if all this is very scandalous. Even the link-ups that are talked about, usually between people who are single (i.e. not married to someone else), are purely for the purpose of pushing a “jodi” before a movie is being released. Equally orchestrated are the so-called leaked MMS-s and uncensored movie footage that surprisingly finds its way on Youtube. You know how you can detect a PR plant? Search for “love child”, “mistress”, “second wife/husband” (contact me for the other keywords) and if these do not occur at least once in something that purports to be gossip, it is not.

As to Twitter, it is just a non-stop stream of  ho-hum:  “Am so busy”, “I need a holiday”, “I am at Cannes ” , “Watch me in…” and “My son is having a baby”. Sure there is the odd snarky celeb comment or minor flare-up but they are quickly extinguished lest the boat be rocked.

Yes that is the thing. True gossip, of the kind that makes the stars turn red, rocks the boat. And for the financial behemoth that is Bollywood today, that is one thing that must not be allowed. Which is why gossip today is homogenized, pasteurized, defanged and fat-free and real gossip mags are left gasping for breath.

Ah well. We will always have the back issues.



42 thoughts on “Gossip Girls (And Boys)

  1. Remind me not to look at your movie related posts at quarter to 4 am.
    Shakti Kapoor in the almost altogether…please pass the eyeball bleach!!

  2. shakti kapoor-the sight of a dog licking its crotch.
    a waste of time.
    sometimes i wonder if an intellectual like you is degrading his intelligence by
    giving space to such balderdash and churning out movie based posts or is it sheer nostalgia of the bygone times?
    i HATE yellow journalism.that bugger bahu aishwarya or pelvic thrusting mithunda-ugly.

  3. Wow – Ranjeet and his man-cleavage!! Priceless.
    Bombay films sure had characters who believed it was their right to live life king size – and we loved them for doing so, coz they were living our dreams for us!!

    Today’s overgrown kids strutting as “Stars” just don’t have the personality!

  4. I am happy that we have an option to “minimize” our screens else Mom would have felt nauseated at the sight of this Shakti Kapoor pic and I would have been the one cleaning up her puke. 😛

    What else could have been a better punishment? 😀

  5. LOL!!

    Shakti Kapoor’s near naked photo just following the mention of ‘Back Issues’. Intentional?

  6. These are images that I still remember from my younger days. times when

    a) heroes would make a bold, politically incorrect statement (mithun stating that the number 1 position is not someone’s father’s property – aimed at AB Sr)

    b) when heroines would actually fight over heroes (karisma and raveena fighting over ajay devgun – yeah believe that)

    c) when hero-heroine linkups were so hush hush (mithun- sridevi, madhuri – sanjay dutt etc)

    d) when men were fkn men (vinod khanna, dharmendra, ranjeet, feroze khan) – not overgrwon boys pretending to be men (imran khan, ranbir kapoor, shahid kapoor, ranveer singh, etc)

    today things are so different…and perhaps the main reason why the stars have lost their shine….

  7. Haaa!

    I used to do the same at the barber shop as well. And yes, I can very much connect to the post… Super like!!!!

    About the pics ==> Give me one hero in the present times who can be sooo manly as Ranjeet in the above pic OR who can pose like Shakti.. NONE!!..

  8. @sophocles- agree with your men were men part totally! Today there seems to be this strange metrosexual male at rise everywhere, where men are supposed to look and behave soft, as opposed to being a true man ((not to be confused with men who hit women- cowards according to me!), there seems to be this strange tendency of men softening down, and women hardening up (what with some western women actually developing muscles and all that!), hope we are not moving towards a day when we no longer will be able to distinguish!! How dreadful!

  9. comon Sayan, SRK may not have any body or facial hair, but he can pull off a tighter shirt than Ranjeet 🙂
    Saif’s shoulders are as broad as Amrita Singh’s ..ok maybe thats a stretch.
    But Amir Khan has more hair on his head (after so many hair weaves) than Shakti Kapoor on his chest.

  10. WOW!!… some major research gone into the images used here – The Shakti image wins.. Pants down….LOL……

  11. oh…tht remineded me of mayapuri…”apni to yeh aadat hai ki hum kuch kahte nahi”…and stardust’s pussy cat.
    stardust translated the word “sexy” in its hindi version as “chuddam”

  12. Hahaha, didn’t know retro could be so sexy!!! Just wonder how come the industry has suddenly stopped producing such creative geniuses a la Shakti Kapoor & Ranjit?

  13. @GB true
    perhaps the only real gossip can be found on Rajeev Masand’s column on the OpentheMagazine site.
    check it out if you have’nt already

  14. Wait wait wait — there is a picture of a topless Marc Zuber on a satin sheet giving a come-hither look??? Why didn’t you post it here??!!

    Why are Mithun and Sridevi rubbing chins? “Amar Sridevi-r shonge chibuk ghosate bhalo lage.”

  15. Mr.GreatBong, you should put a “slightly NSFW” warning at the start of the article. I was reading at work, scrolled down and lo behold Shakti !!!! GAAAH !!

  16. Munaf Patel has been caught red-handed, walking hand in hand with Arun Lala, who was seen showing him how to deal with an endangered species (namely a fast bowler who spins the ball!). Six-pack elevation-and-distance LS is making a much-hyped comeback in the movie “Its all about the packs!”, where he is going to reveal his packs for the first time on national television, and the climax will have him taking on the ancient hyper-excitable hairy gorilla by the name of Manny Dorrison! The winner will walk away with a muscular Mandira Body! Special appearances by mishti-doi Gavaskara and hair-today-gone-tomorrow-back in a horrible form day after- Shavi Rastri, and the world’s first bald ceo who was sacked- Daru Sharma! A potential blockbuster!!

  17. The image of Shakti Kapoor at the end is awesome! And yes, our generation misses the days when Mamta Kulkarni said in print, “Rajkumar Santoshi used and abused me.” … Good times!

  18. hahaha….i used to consider major part of the barber-shop magazine as made up. However I remember once reading in Panjab Kesari about Hema Malini pushing her daughter for actress in parties with a pic of esha deol wearing a ‘glamorous dress’ and after one year or so…. Esha deol is in bollywood.

    Seriously like the Ranjit pic, I always liked his style, dialogue delivery and his trademark long sideburns. This guy despite being villain never seem cheap.

    and finally ..please add one Vinod Khanna pic…..with Dharmendra and Ranjit being there he also should be there.

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