In recent years, Bollywood has lost some of the iconic talents whom we have respected and admired for years. Some died a natural death, while some passed away under tragic conditions. As a part of our culture, over the years, people always made sure that these honourable artists were treated with respect even during their last journey. However, in the last few years, this compassion for their colleagues seems to be diminishing amongst the people of B-town. There have been multiple instances where Bollywood celebrities have given their fellow colleagues and seniors’ funerals a miss. A condolence message on twitter is all they have to offer. We at Bollywood Hungama decided to find out why the film world has become so cold in the recent years.
Earlier this week, actress Jiah Khan’s death sent shock waves through Bollywood. However, what seemed disappointing was the lack of turn out by her friends and colleagues from Bollywood at her funeral. While twitter was flooded with condolence messages for Jiah, none of the biggies turned up for the last journey of this young actress. Producer Siddhartha M Jain, a close friend of Jiah’s, expressed his disappointment over Bollywood celebs skipping her funeral. He said, “I was expecting a lot of people to be present at the funeral. I think a lot of them were not comfortable with the media presence. Maybe some of them have busy schedules or maybe it’s just a careless attitude due to which people don’t attend a lot of funeral ceremonies these days.”
But Jiah isn’t the only one to get this kind of treatment from Bollywood? Rituparno Ghosh, who was regarded as one of the finest filmmakers in India, also received a similar treatment. Post his tragic death on May 30, a series of tweets by Bollywood celebrities flooded the internet. People from B-town, who knew Ghosh personally couldn’t stop praising Ghosh’s talent. However, his funeral was attended only by Ghosh’s colleagues from the Bengali industry, while no one from Bollywood was spotted.
Jagdish Mali, who passed away earlier this year, was one of the most respected and sought after photographers in Bollywood in the 80s and 90s. However, after this talented artist lost his life due to multiple organ failure, none of the prominent stars who had worked with Mali turned up at his funeral. As expected though, twitter was flooded with condolence messages by Bollywood fraternity.
Some of the other respected and prominent artists like Achala Sachdev, A K Hangal, Navin Nischol, Jagjit Singh and Jaspal Bhatti too got similar treatment by fellow Bollywood colleagues.
So why are Bollywood celebrities boycotting the final journey of the own friends and colleagues? “Sometimes people shy away from media presence as they aren’t comfortable about being photographed at such events. But I also think that some people are too busy and self centered to care about others,” comments Siddhartha M Jain.
Have twitter messages then become an easy escape for most B-town celebs as it most of the time gets picked up by the media anyway? “It’s not only Bollywood celebs who are taking to twitter to express their feelings. It’s a social habit that we have developed. It’s specific to Bollywood because celebrities use this medium more than common people. It’s just the evil of the world that we give in to. But the internet is making it easier to interact with a larger number of people at the same time though it cannot replace the personal touch,” states Siddhartha.
However, what is noteworthy is that while Bollywood celebrities skipped the funerals of the lesser popular talents, the who’s who of Bollywood were seen at the funerals and prayer meetings of biggies like Shammi Kapoor, Dev Anand, Rajesh Khanna and Yash Chopra in the recent past.
When asked Siddhartha Jain about the same, he says, “Biggies like Rajesh Khanna and Dev Anand share a personal rapport with thousands of people in Bollywood and have worked with multiple generations. Their circle of relations in the industry is higher than younger actors. When it comes to attending funerals of small time actors, it’s more to do with the society’s outlook. If a business tycoon passes away, a lot of people will attend the funeral but that won’t be the case when a small time trader dies. People tend to gravitate towards powerful people. That’s the society’s problem and is not Bollywood specific.”
Ashok Pandit, who has always been proactive in supporting his colleagues from the film industry, however considers that virtual media has made people lazy. “To be honest its laziness. People do not have time and energy to waste on such occasions,” he comments with regret.
He also believes that attendance at funerals depends on who the actor was and the rapport he shared with his contemporaries and the current generation. “You feel the pain only if the person was very close to you. A K Hangal had his own fan following. But legends like Rajesh Khanna and Dev Anand had a larger fan following. They were popular even amongst the younger generations. Hence there is no point in comparing the turn out of people at their funerals.”
He however recollects one of his most shocking experiences, when no one from the industry stood up to take charge of Parveen Babi’s dead body after she passed away. “In case of Parveen Babi, while no one was claiming the body, I took the initiative of cremating it and invited all her friends from the industry during her funeral,” he states.
Is it possible then that the star value, the achievements and the popularity of a person at that point of time are considered even when he takes off for his final journey? It’s only the biggies whose funerals are attended by Bollywood celebrities, while smaller names, even if they have been co-stars and work colleagues, deserve nothing more than a condolence message on twitter? Has this become a culture in Bollywood now and if yes, then should the B-town celebrities change it and show a little more respect to the souls of their colleagues?
We ask you readers to give your point of view on this subject.