Malayalam actor Kunchacko Boban and his wife Priya smile at the camera, dressed in traditional Malayali attire. The moment has all the markings of a candid break during an interview. Then, the video cuts to Kunchacko happily smiling with his mother and his children.
In the background, an upbeat music track plays along.
This is how the first part of a 2-minute video uploaded on YouTube in August this year, titled "Actor Kunchacko Boban lifestyle" pans out. The second half runs through a series of images of luxury cars and fancy apartments, all of which are claimed to be owned by the popular actor.
While the title of the video ignites a lot of curiosity with the promise of a well-informed peek into a life hidden from the public, the content of this, and other videos circulating on the internet, is nothing but deceiving.
Promising headlines, hollow content
The standard format that all these videos follow is to line up pictures of celebrities like Kunchacko Boban with images of luxury like fancy cars, palatial houses and plush interiors, without even a smidgeon of evidence that any of these things belong to the celebrity in question. In fact, most of the cars, houses and interiors are simply images that pop up with any random internet search.
For instance, watch this video about Fahadh Faasil and his family. "You should be lucky enough to lead such a life," screams the title. Who wouldn't want to click on a link that promises such elusive pictures?
But again, the video is merely a compilation of numerous photographs of the actor with his family, and images of fancy apartments and cars, many that may not even belong to the actor!
This video has earned more than 4 lakh views, two months since it was uploaded on YouTube.
This video claims to have images of actor Manju Warrier's house, ‘that are capable of shocking EVEN her former husband and actor Dileep’. But all you get in the video is a series of pictures that look like they’ve been lifted from the catalogue of some premium architectural or interior designing firm.
In the past few months, the genre of videos showing the “luxurious” lifestyles of celebrities has become one of the most watched kinds of videos on the internet. There are tens of YouTube channels churning out such videos in Malayalam and garnering lakhs of views for each video.
Videos based on current events
Sometimes these YouTube channels like to mix it up with videos of fresh controversies doing the rounds on social media.
So, the last week of September saw two Malayalam films hit the theatres – actor Manju Warrier's Udaharanam Sujathaand her ex-husband Dileep's Ramaleela.
The two actors had obtained a divorce some years ago and their daughter Meenakshi had chosen to stay with her father.
Considering this history, who wouldn't want to know whether Meenakshi watched her mother's film and what she thought of it?
While the title of this video uploaded on October 1 promises Meenakshi's "first reaction" to Manju’s film, the 2-minute video does not have anything to do with the title. (No surprises there!)
But the video that takes the cake is the one of actor Dileep being allowed to visit home to perform the rituals for his father's death anniversary. Titled "What Kavya did when Dileep came home will shock you," this video has received more than 9 lakh views in just over a month.
The big reveal: that Kavya Madhavan first “ignored” her husband who returned home after 57 days in jail, but later helped him put on his slippers. Of course, there’s nothing in the series of generic images of the actor that tell you if any of this even happened.
Going by the hundreds of thousands and even millions of views these videos generate, there’s surely a lot of Malayalis hungry for celebrity gossip out there, no matter how much or how little truth there is to any of it.