#Short Story: The Celebrity

It was another event for the superstar; the heartthrob of millions, superstar Raghu. People thronged in thousands to catch just one glimpse of him. He wasn’t just another superstar; he was a superstar down in the Southern part of India where heroes are worshiped as Gods. They have fanatic fans who build temples and worship the star. They bathe their giant-sized cutouts with milk. They throng to the theaters to watch the first day first show; whistle, clap and shout on their entry; dance when the superstar dances, believe that the fights are for real; cry when the superstar cries.

Raghu was now in his late 40s. He knew he was ageing. He wore his expensive wig, asked his makeup man to cover his fine lines before he went for the event. Just last month he had gotten a face-lift and liposuction done in an expensive clinic in London. For his fans, he had to put up the facade of being young. They wanted to see him forever young, immortal.

He had entered the film industry as a gawky 20-year-old in the 1990s. He was from a middle-class background, very ordinary looking. He somehow got a chance in a movie as the hero’s sidekick and over the years after immense hard work, many setbacks, multiple humiliations and rejections he had finally become the darling of the masses. When he was on screen, he was on fire. He would bring out a thousand expressions with ease, dance, sing, fight, romance with ease, but off screen he was this quiet and aloof person who had a certain melancholy in his eyes. He looked uncomfortable when his co-actors, producers, directors would flatter him with compliments. He knew that 2 flops and the same people will ignore his existence, fans will burn his effigies. He had seen it all. He knew how he was mocked and sidelined when in the middle of his career he had 5 flops in a row. He was seated in the fourth or fifth row in any function, sometimes people wouldn’t even invite him for parties and premiers. Producers wouldn’t sign him. Raghu knew “Nothing succeeds like success.” Now that he was a huge superstar again everyone wanted a piece of him, wanted to be clicked with him, seen with him, work with him. Heroines 20-25 years younger to him would want to work with him as they knew even one scene with him would mean a big boost in their career.

His own parents, relatives, so-called friends also wanted a share of him; his money, his fame. His children were constantly hounded by the media for a photo or a byte.

As soon as his BMW entered the event venue, he could see media persons, fans, film industry people thronging towards his car. He could see the familiar “flattering smile” on their faces. He knew once he got out of the car he had to act off-screen as well. He was tired now, but he had chosen this life. He knew he enjoyed this attention, this demi-God status. He was at that stage of life where he had millions of admirers and fans but no genuine friend. Despite thousands around him, he was lonely.

The cameras flashed and captured him at the angles where he looked good,, but even those flashlights couldn’t camouflage the blank and pained eyes.

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