hey superstars and fans, heard of democracy?

Features Saturday, January 10, 2015 - 05:30
Sameera Ahmed & Nitin B| The News Minute | December 24, 2014 | 0:31 am IST South India is known for its share of star-crazy fans – from Mahesh Babu in Andhra Pradesh to Rajinikanth in Tamil Nadu, each actor has his own mass fan-following.  When Rajinikanth’s movie Lingaa released on December 12, fans of the superstar went berserk. From early morning (read 1 am) first day show timings to pal-abishekums and poojas throughout the state, everyone went all out in celebration.  One cartoonist Bala based out of Tamil Nadu, well known for his doodles on issues ranging from politics to movies, deciding that enough was enough created a cartoon critical of money wasted over such celebrations. What he least expected was the amount of criticism that he received from Rajinikanth fans when he put a poster questioning all the mass celebrations using litres of milk for pal-abhishekam when less-fortunate children went hungry in the same stead.                                                                                                                                                                  Image courtesy: balacartoons.blogspot.in Not going down well with the typically Superstar-crazy fans, a number of them replied to the post abusing him and his family. “They abused me, my mother and my wife. They even threatened to kill me,” said Bala as he spoke to The News Minute.  Following all the negative criticism, his Facebook page was frozen presumably after a number of people reported it as spam.  Even though this was the worst Bala had experienced, it was not the sole incident. Previously when he had portrayed DMK chief Kraunanidhi, he received morphed nude images of himself as replies. One other person for whom he received constant criticism was Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Similarly, Boggula Srinivas, a chemistry graduate from Kurnool was just another ordinary person until one day, he penned down a book titled “Pawan Kalyan Hatao-Politics Bachao” For those of you who do not know who Pawan Kalyan is, he is a film actor, director, screenwriter, Stunt coordinator, writer, politician and the younger brother of another actor turned politician Chiranjeevi. Pawan kalyan founded the “Jana Sena” which recently became a registered party after it got the Election Commission’s approval. Read Pawan Kalyan's Jana Sena now a registered political party Lovingly titled “Power Star”, the “Gabbar Singh’ star has quite a loyal fan base that faithfully follows him. Unhappy with his elder brother's move of joining Congress, Pawan floated Jana Sena in March this year. Criticising the Congress for dividing Andhra Pradesh, he gave a call for 'Congress hatao desh bachao' (Remove the Congress, save the nation). The book written by Srinivas, which was released in May and slowly gathered momentum, replaces Pawan Kalyan’s name in the title and attacks the politician for making outrageous statements like “Take money from YSRCP vote for TDP and BJP” According to Srinivas, who himself admits to being a fan of the actor, Pawan Kalyan – being an opinion leader should not make outrageous statements and should consider the weight of his words. However, fans went berserk on the issue and Srinivas even started getting death threats until he approached the government for security. The fans claimed that the author was just using Pawan Kalyan’s name to get famous overnight but the author denied these allegations.                                                                                                                                  Srinivas with a copy of the controversial book Arun, a Tamil actor, faced a similar situation when he received severe criticism for his Facebook post on Lingaa. The movie,didn’t do quite too well at the theatres after it received a lukewarm response from its second week on. Following his critical review of the movie, he received quite a lot of negative feedback. “"Tamil Studio is a venture that taken an alternate look at Tamil cinema. I had written a post critical of Lingaa on the Facebook page. There were many who opposed. Later I got a notification from Facebook that many users had reported me. In a few hours, the page was taken down by Facebook., " he said speaking to The News Minute. Are star-crazy fans stifling democracy and preventing alternate ideas from being represented? According to Bala, the concept of forming groups and targeting particular individuals on social media has become a trend.  He said that even PM Modi had his own FB page. According to him, communities are so well-organised that members are immediately informed of any critical post and asked to target that particular individual until they removed the said irritant or got the social media site to bring it down on its own.  “Surely these kind of people wont change. The only option would be that Facebook changes its coding,” he said about alternative solutions to prevent similar incidents occurring in the future.  The issue however, is not about social media policies. If large groups representing an ideology or a certain hobby are not tolerant enough to handle ideas contrasting to their own, they need to learn how to contain such situations.  Instead of going to the extent of trolling or harassing individuals for the sake of some big star, fans could do so well as to ensure they are able to live in an inclusive society, respecting others with ideas different from their own. Read: Has anyone noticed the slyly degrading domestic violence Lingaa portrayed Tweet
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