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Bollywood demi-gods go blogging
Superstar blogs have their role in India's globally growing entertainment industry. News reports claimed Bachchan being paid $23 million for blogging. While Bachchan has apologised to Shahrukh. Leading politicians blogging could be up next.
IT IS a medium, for which the Bollywood heroes and their fans have taken an instant liking. The star and gossip crazy fans do not need to depend upon the magazines that grew in the 70s and 80s any more. They not only hear straight from their hero’s mouth, but can also interact with their favorite stars. Many suspect that this is a ploy to raise controversy and consequently ensure increased longevity.

“I am unable to resist sharing this with you and it’s personal,” confides Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan’s blog entry datelined London, May 19. “It was emotional for me and I thought so relevant to my last post, I had to put it down.”

So Bachchan posts an emotionally narrated incident from his school days, evoked over 800 comments worldwide, mostly from breathless fans hardly able to believe they are reading diary posts from Bachchan himself. "Dear Bachchan," "Sheen" said, “I can gather no words right now, to express how glad I am that a colleague introduced me to your posts.”

The tall Bachchan, also called ’Big B’, was voted India’s star of the millennium in a BBC poll and was a childhood friend of Rajiv Gandhi. Bachchan leads a trend bemusing Bollywood-addicted south Asia, one that promises to have more of India’s biggest stars taking to not just blogging and sending their fans worldwide into delirium, but also taking potshots at each other and promoting their films amid rising stakes in India’s television and movie industry.

Bollywood, the faintly sneering term for the Mumbai-based Hindi movie industry, is part of India’s film factories that churn out over 1,000 movies annually and sell nearly four billion movie tickets, estimates an Ernst and Young study, and is measured to be over twice the size of the second-largest market, the United States.

Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan and Aamir Khan - three of the biggest Bollywood movie icons - have been tangled in a blogging drama last fortnight. Sixty-five-year old Bachchan apologised for taking a crack at fellow superstar Shahrukh in his blog, while leading actor-director Aamir made news for revealing that Shahrukh licks his (Aamir’s) feet and is fed dog biscuits. Aamir has a pet dog named Shahrukh.

Shahrukh, the human, who is presently preoccupied as franchisee owner of the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) cricket team in the ongoing inaugural Indian Premier League (IPL), laughed off the juvenile reference to his canine namesake and ignored publicly made legal advice that he try his luck with a defamation suit.

The blogging blather erupted amid news of Bollywood driving into Hollywood, with billionaire industrialist Anil Ambani (junior of estranged brother Mukesh) announcing a US$1 billion fund to make 69 films in two years. Ambani has struck separate deals with the production companies of George Clooney (Smokehouse Productions), Nicholas Cage (Saturn Productions), Tom Hanks (Playtone) and Brad Pitt (Plan B Entertainment).

Ambani’s film production house, Reliance BIG entertainment, is part of Ambani’s Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group that also owns the multiplex chain Adlabs, FM radio station BIG92.7FM and gaming site Zapak.

American billionaire investor George Soros also invested $100 million in Reliance BIG entertainment this February for a three per cent stake in the company, putting his money to back his claim that India will play a leading role in the world’s entertainment and media industry.

Superstar blogs, it now appears, have their role in India’s globally growing entertainment industry. Some news reports claimed Bachchan has been paid $23 million for blogging. Bachchan denied it, but the local media missed the interesting fact that Ambani’s BIG Entertainment also owns the social networking site "Bigadda" that hosts Bachchan’s news-churning "BigBlog". Bachchan’s blog with a global fan reach in Ambani’s social networking site may not be straightforward coincidence.

If superstar blogs are part of any grand promotional plots, they are doing a sturdy job, freely serving online fan fodder of the kind that turned movie gossip magazines such as Stardust, Cine Blitz and Star and Style into bestsellers in the 1970s and 1980s.

For movie-crazed fans, the blogs offer spice straight from the star’s mouth, added with occasional lapses into the foot-in-mouth disease that next generates blog entries resembling movie-type dialogues.

“I will apologise to Shahrukh a hundred times if there is an iota of doubt in his mind about my conduct and behavior towards him,” Bachchan said in a blog entry this month from Cannes, France, where he attended the 61st international film festival. This was after his blog questioned the popularity of Khan’s latest reality TV show Kya Aap Paanchvi Pass Se Tez Hain? the Hindi language version of the US TV hit Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? The Ambani billion-dollar movie deal was also announced in Cannes during the festival.

Bachchan’s blog had earlier poked at another prominent target - Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss, whose pet peeve, that India’s national health is being grievously undermined by actors drinking and smoking on screen, is driving the film community into a frenzy. While Bachchan urged Ramadoss to first wean government employees off tobacco, another actor wanted to know if British statesman Winston Churchill’s famous cigar should be replaced with a lollipop in Indian films.

Leading politicians blogging could be up next, but for now the chatty, personal style in superstar blogs takes fanzines into new territory. “Just returned from the opening night of Cannes Film Festival,” Bachchan breezily informs in a blog entry dated May 15. “Aishwarya was already here, Abhishek joined in from Miami and together with Jaya we went to the festival.”

Bachchan’s star son Abhishek, movie star daughter-in law and former Miss World Aishwarya Rai and Bachchan’s wife Jaya, a former movie star, are all planning to blog individually in the Ambani-owned version of Orkut and MySpace networking sites - the announcement reducing odds that Bollywood’s first family and other superstars are blogging merely for the love and lark of it.

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In This Article
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