x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

The goods and bads of fandom

Crazed fans constantly mob their favourite stars, whether it's Shah Rukh Khan or Taylor Swift.

As fans, we tend to have the inexplicable urge to peek into our favourite stars' personal lives. It's a sentiment that some make their living off of. Lady Gaga's Little Monsters and the Bieber Fever-ed create the bread and butter of thousands of tabloids.

It's fair when all we want is to see what Gaga looks like when she grocery shops or to know where the Biebs likes to brunch. The problem is, sometimes that's not enough. Sometimes this attachment acquires unhealthy proportions.

Stories of stars being swarmed by fans are a dime a dozen. Recently Shah Rukh Khan was mobbed in Morocco during the 12th Marrakech International Film Festival. This year's edition celebrated 100 years of Indian cinema and Khan was one of the Bollywood stars in attendance.

All it took was one crazed fan for matters to escalate to a security alert. Someone grabbed and tugged at SRK's coat as he walked by. Apparently, it wasn't good enough that King Khan was shaking hands with and signing autographs for the crowd. Security stepped in to quiet the offender. When asked about the incident later on, SRK shrugged it off with a comment on how great it feels to know that people love him so much.

Taylor Swift, on the other hand, might not be able to shrug off crazed fans' antics so easily, especially when the fans are not even hers to begin with. The 22-year-old singer, who had a brief romance with the One Direction band member Harry Styles at the beginning of the year, has reportedly got back together with him and, as a result, has been the subject of some sinister social media comments. Styles' fans posted Twitter statements such as "I'll murder Taylor Swift. She will not date my Harry" and "If u dating my Harry, I kill u".

When it comes to the Nepali-Indian actress Manisha Koirala, an altogether different sentiment has been making the social media rounds. Fans have been rallying around the Bollywood star since news surfaced that she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. In response, she posted on Facebook: "With all your love and prayers I am sure I'll recover. It was shocking to know, but then life is full of surprises."

The actress, who was last seen in Ram Gopal Varma's Bhoot Returns (a sequel to the Bhoot series and a decidedly critical and commercial failure), may have been out of the limelight for a while, but she still rules the hearts of her fans.

Since debuting in Bollywood with the 1991 Subhash Ghai hit Saudagar, Koirala's angelic face and fierce demeanour have proved to be a tantalising combination, both on and off the screen. When she is not a social activist and a UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador, she has been the target of attempted kidnapping (in 2002; foiled by Mumbai police) and body-double troubles (also in 2002, the director of her film Ek Chotisi Si Love Story apparently used a body double for her to shoot some questionable scenes).

Though she has not churned out a hit for a long time, Koirala proves that out of sight does not always mean out of mind, that there is a flip side to the unhealthy obsessions some fans have with their beloved stars. We're all praying for the quick recovery of Koirala - regardless of whether we get to see her back on screen, we want to see her back on her feet.

The writer is an honest-to-goodness desi girl living in Dubai