Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Should Big B Clarify?

This entry is sort of an addendum to the previous one. My initial reaction to latest Big B vs Congress controversy was almost entirely restricted to the Congress' pettiness towards Amitabh Bachchan. I entirely skipped the issue of whether or not Amitabh Bachchan should in fact clarify his stand on the post Godhra riots.
As arguably India's biggest celebrity, Amitabh has an extremely large influence on the common man's perceptions on the products he endorses. It could definitely be argued that given his understanding of the power of celebrity, the Big B should definitely pick and choose what he should and should not lend his name to. But then such an argument is put forward by those of us who have placed Amitabh Bachchan on a pedestal not of his choosing. Definitely his recent blogs, public statements and even movie ventures would suggest that Mr Bachchan's primary motivation is the well-being of his family, as it would be and should be for any of us. Even the support extended to Gujarat Tourism is just that; a quid pro quo for tax exemption status for Paa, a movie produced by son Abhishek. So lets not mistake Amitabh Bachchan's endorsement of the state of Gujarat as having any ideological basis. Its just business.
Now, Mr Bachchan may or may not have an opinion about the Gujarat riots and Narendra Modi. But will his clarification of that opinion have any effect on the common man's opinion on as polarizing a figure as Narendra Modi? Should Mr Bachchan's opinion matter so much? In the same vein, can we then argue that Aamir Khan's endorsement of the Incredible India campaign is a sign of his stamp of approval for the current Congress government or even better does Manmohan Singh's acceptance of the PM post in the current government signify a carte blanche absolution from all Sikhs to the Congress party? Its an asinine argument to make. Celebrity endorsement and opinions have to be taken at face value unless they are made by someone with the activistic credentials of say a Nandita Das. But then poor Nandita cant send the TRPs shooting like an Amitabh Bachchan can; and isn't that what this whole controversy is really about?

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