Imran Khan talks about how the paparazzi culture has taken over the lives of the celebrities, adds that people don’t ask him for autographs anymore, but selfies
I’ve seen the growth, and change. It has been seven years since Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na (2008) released, and I’ve seen a very clear change in the business of being a celebrity. Apart from acting and choosing scripts, which are entirely different aspects, there is an entirely different side of being a celebrity, which is living the life of a person who is recognised. You could be an actor, a sportsperson, a musician, or anyone who people recognise. As such, you start to live your life in a different way.
Now I don’t do things that I used to do earlier, like signing autographs. Now, people take pictures with me. In my first couple of years, people would recognise me and ask me for autographs. I have vivid memories of papers being thrown at me to be signed. That’s what it was. Now, the papers and pens are gone. Nobody has them anymore. Now, there are camera phones. And, we’ve gone beyond just posing. Now it’s about selfies. So, you start to feel you’re not relevant. I’m like a prop and 50 people will come to take selfies with me. I’m doing nothing but standing with a smile on my face.
You’re at a point, where you talk about paparazzi; you talk about people whose job it is to take pictures of famous people. But everyone has a camera in their pocket at any given time. If you are a recognisable person, you no longer have expectations of privacy beyond the confines of your house. If someone can get a picture of me inside my house from over the walls, then that’s it.
It’s very easy to take offence, and it’s easy to say that it’s my life. But, it’s also equally easy to make the other side of the argument which is the public’s right to know. Discussing the pros and cons of this is nothing but talking in circles because it’s not going to get you anywhere. I have reached a point of acceptance, where I know what I can control, which is inside my house. Beyond it, you need to accept the reality that you can be photographed at any moment.
If you are in the business of being famous, it’s a part of it. You step out of your house and make sure you look decent, because people will photograph you. Unless, of course, you don’t care how you look. You can’t have expectations or demands, or can’t say let’s draw a line. It’s all about mutual respect between two professions. I’m an actor whose photographs are in demand; there is also someone whose job it is to photograph me. He’s doing his job, I’m doing mine. And, if we find a mutual ground where I treat him with respect, I think of his human value. I can also get some currency. Rather than having a law or diktat about what to do and what not to, talk to the guy and come to a mutually beneficial conclusion.
Sometimes, it is intrusion of privacy, and you don’t like it, and may have problems with it. But, you do what you can to prevent that. It’s like me standing on a railway station and putting my wallet on the bench next to me. This is as good as inviting someone to pick it up and run. Instead, why don’t I just keep it in my pocket? Now, I know people are going to try to get pictures of my wedding, my daughter, etc. But, I can decide on things that I don’t want to share. I can put in a boundary and prevent my pictures from being shared.
When I host parties at home, I hire caterers –– people I’ve never seen before. I know there will be people in my house who want to just enjoy the party, and not be photographed. My contract states that there should be no phones and these things are made clear in the beginning. That’s what you do inside. On the night of the party, there are photographers waiting outside your house, so you send water and snacks to them and at a point where I feel I can step out, I do, and give them all the photographs that they want. Having mutual respect and a channel of communication is all that it takes.
(Imran Khan is a Bollywood actor)