Are we happy with the experiment our stars are attempting to remain relevant past their release dates?
Bollywood stars rarely do cross-platform appearances unless there is a publicity clock ticking before movie releases. This makes them appear on our television soaps, as annoying ads between videos or as pop-ups before clickbait content. They do it all to lure us to the screens. But of late, they seem to be doing something unusual. They are now chiming in through radio waves as hosts of shows themselves, that too without a release looming in the horizon.
One can only wonder what could have possibly made them take up the role of faceless RJs. Our narcissistic celebrities after all make sure that every time they step out of their bedrooms, the paparazzi take note. This time around, the game is changing and the credit goes to YouTube. You see just being a recognisable voice on air is not worthy enough for our Bollywood celebrity’s attention and time, which is why radio shows like What Women Want, Calling Karan and Vogue BFF have pretty set-ups since it is a video cum radio show.
The promos of these radio shows don’t make promises of never before heard hot gossips or soulful revelations from our stars. No, they distinctly want to make it about real time issues at least that’s the direction chosen by the Kareena Kapoor Khan-hosted What Women Want.
The less than 12-minute long episodes surprisingly neither asked Bollywood designer Manish Malhotra which actress he enjoys dressing the most nor why his creations are not making it to celebrity weddings this year.
Instead, the questions refreshingly stuck to body positivity and the correlation between fashion and personality.
This, however, does not mean that stars hosting shows are actually addressing the elephant in the room by say asking Sunny Leone about her adult film past or telling Masaba Gupta she is half black.
The glitches are there and way too obvious, but Bollywood in a first is actually trying to be politically correct on radio unlike its films and songs.
For a change, some of these shows or parts of these shows are about issues and not getting to know your star better. Karan Johar playing a rapid fire round with himself is pretentious but forgivable for the gullible effort he makes for being an agony aunt.
In more candid reflections, you could say that these radio shows are serving as hibernation for periods between projects or as respite for stars after their lead role days. Kareena did it right after the success of Veere Di Wedding while Karan snuck in his radio schedule between Dhadak and Simmba.
But it is not all past the stars sprawled out on a cough to reveal secrets form. Neha Dhupia’s Vogue BFF sticks to the same old mould of celeb talk thereby letting us see Alia Bhatt struggle to spell ‘necessity’ on camera.
These radio shows almost make us feel like our stars are finally spilling over to other mediums to find respite from the rigidity of the cinema screen. Web series started out as one such experiment which picked up wind following Saif Ali Khan’s success in Sacred Games making him the Columbus of web series for other celebrities but soon enough, radio, possibly the most unglamorous entertainment medium, has become the latest fad.
But a Bollywood celebrity hosting shows is not all new and jazzy, Anu Malik did it with Big Radio Reel, where he talked about his industry experiences as did Annu Kapoor with Suhana Safar or Anurag Kashyap for two days before the release of Raman Raghav 2.0. It is the stepping-out-of-the-privy-into-a-celebrity’s-life format that is fuelling views for shows like What Women Want.
In the age of #MeToo and ‘Stay unfair’, we need our stars to talk beyond their glamorous lives and who they gossip with.
A social media saturation means we get to see more than our fair share of their private lives but seeing comedians like Mallika Dua question in what context society says women can’t be funny makes us privy to the issues seething them and us at large.
But much more needs to be done so that these celebrity-hosted radio shows don’t just tiptoe but walk the talk when speaking about the importance of female friendships on screen.
But for now, we need to be happy with the experiments as our stars are attempting to remain relevant past their release dates.