Taimur Ali Khan is taking a couple of lessons in gardening from his father Saif Ali Khan amid the lockdown, veteran actor Amitabh Bachchan is adoring a “Home Quarantined” stamp on his hand, Deepika Padukone has been using a face roller to keep her skin glowing, Kareena Kapoor has been munching on some “yummy Gajar ka halwa”, Kangana Ranaut is getting a head message from her mother and playing cards with her family in her hometown Manali and Maliaka Arora has been cooking, cleaning and spending time with the family amid the lockdown.
These are our celebrities, our role models, people whom we look up to, people whose speaking, dressing and life choices fascinate us.
As they paint pictures of their rosy, comfortable, love and festivity filled quarantine days on social media and make even ordinary chores like cleaning a sink full of dirty utensils or mopping the floor look perfect, we wonder why the same chores don’t look as attractive, as glamorous when we perform them.
When Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor’s son dirties his crisp white lakhnawi Kurta with gardening soil while learning to plant a seed on his luxuriously embellishment terrace, we cannot stop gushing over how cute he looks or how despite being such a star kid, his parents bother to keep him grounded. Or when we look at the beautiful Katrina Kaif smiling as she cleans a dozen dirty vessels in a choked sink or mopping the floor of her apartment with agility, we cannot help but wonder how daily and mundane chores too can become attractively exciting substitutes for working out at the gym.
Images such as those of Arjun Kapoor climbing up on a tool to wipe the ceiling fan while flaunting his biceps or Salman Khan feeding a hungry horse at his farm have flooded our imagination in the last couple of weeks. Some of us find it delightful, some of us say it’s insensitive and even obscene for celebrities to engage in display of privilege at a time such as this and some passively consume it without question.
For our millionaire celebrities, washing dirty utensils, feeding the poor, practicing agriculture on a multi-acre personal farmland or even making ‘dal-chawal’ are choices born out of sheer privilege and not out of compulsion.
Like a carefully scripted, artistically designed act from a celluloid screen- they appear to be doing daily chores like dusting, cleaning and mopping to fetch the sympathy of thousands of passive spectators who take everything that celebrities do at face value.
This is the time when the whole nation is undergoing an unprecedented crisis and the poor are its worst victims. With absence of food and shelter facilities, lack of transportation channels and healthcare systems and an indifferent nation-state: India’s poorest and most disadvantaged section is facing a threat to its survival.
When images of children like Jharkhand’s Makdam Jamlo and Bihar’s Rakesh Musahar dying of hunger and starvation flood the internet, when photos of pregnant migrant women giving birth on dirty public roads surface, when the visuals of dry rotis scattered on railway tracks catches our imagination- how can our celebrities be so insensitive, so as to engage in publicising their comfortable existences?
Their beautifully decorated bungalows and apartments, manicured gardens and massive swimming pools, flashy cars and international beauty products stand in complete contrast to the lives of millions of hungry, starving Indians whose lives have been completely tossed upside down by the lockdown. It is absurd and ugly, insensitive and a form of symbolic violence against the common people of India.
It is time to rethink a celebrity culture that is indifferent, insensitive and completely dissociated from the dreams and aspirations of millions of fellow countrymen and women.