Once upon a time, the only way you knew anything about your favourite Bollywood people was via gossip magazines. Now, thanks to Twitter, you see them the way they actually are.
Of all the Indian celebrities tapping out 140-character snippets for their followers, actor Rishi Kapoor and directors Shirish Kunder and Ram Gopal Varma are the pithiest and most acerbic, showing sides of themselves their fans perhaps never imagined.
This, says Pratiksha Rao, head of media partnerships for Southeast Asia at Twitter, is why their accounts simply buzz with followers. “More popular accounts are set apart from the others because they are a fun mix of who the personalities are and the things they talk about,” says Rao. “They showcase a previously unseen side to themselves.”
Here’s what makes @chintskap, @ShirishKunder and @RGVzoomin tick.
Rishi Kapoor: Straight- talking thespian
“I do not tweet to please people, I tweet because I want to”
Was Rishi Kapoor the original chocolate hero? Going by his Twitter timeline, the veteran actor is more caustic than chocolate. “Why the term “Chocolate” heroes please?” tweets Kapoor. “Humen dekhkar chocolate yaad aata hai? Aur jo nahin woh kya “nimbu”heroes hain?. The father of today’s superstar Ranbir and, one of the most successful actors from the first family of Bollywood, has been more in the news in recent times for his forthright comments on politics, co-stars and poking fun at himself: all hitting the mark in 140 characters or less.
“I don’t smoke; right now I am also jobless,” says Kapoor. “So whenever I am bored, I tweet!”
Kapoor’s tweets are often witty, and almost always drenched in an acidic humour that is hard to resist. So much so that, of his more than million followers on Twitter, a fair number sign up for his tweets less because he’s a star and more because he’s so funny.
“When I started tweeting, my wife was dead against it,” says Kapoor. “She thought I would miff a lot of people. But people liked my posts, they were honest and upfront. So I continued. I never force myself to be funny to get attention. This is how I am. People like that, and my following on Twitter keeps growing. But I never expected it to become this big.”
Tweeting his mind
Why Indira G airport International ? Why not Mahatma Gandhi or Bhagat Singh Ambedkar or on my name Rishi Kapoor. As superficial! What say?— Rishi Kapoor (@chintskap) May 17, 2016
Kapoor’s tweets are never limited to just one topic or kind of style. Go to his Twitter feed and you may find a still from the film Rafoo Chakkar in which he is dressed as a girl, or his agonised tweet looking back at his own sartorial choices: “What guts! Don’t miss the red shoes and the red belt. Aaaagggghhhhhhh”.
What makes him different from other celebrities online? Kapoor talks to his followers as he might chat with his friends, with honesty and forthrightness, about whatever comes to his mind. Unlike most actors, he does not use Twitter to promote himself or his films, and that, on a PR-heavy platform, is indeed refreshing.
“What I tweet depends on what I feel, what mood I am in,” he says. “I am a very honest and outspoken person in real life, and that reflects in my tweets. Sometimes people don’t take it kindly, sometimes they don’t get my sense of humour, sometimes they contradict my views just for the heck of it, and sometimes they really like it. Whichever the case, it doesn’t really matter to me: I am not tweeting to please people, I am tweeting because I want to.”
Change Gandhi family assets named by Congress.Bandra/Worli Sea Link to Lata Mangeshkar or JRD Tata link road. Baap ka maal samjh rakha tha ?— Rishi Kapoor (@chintskap) May 17, 2016
Most of his tweets are directed at himself. Check this out: “Obesity is not because it runs in the Kapoor family! It is because no one runs in the Kapoor family!”
But he is just as forthright about political issues. When BJP MLA Ganesh Joshi brutally beat up police horse Shaktiman in Dehradun, he demanded legal action. And when Sunny Leone was subjected to some offensive questions during an interview, Kapoor tweeted: “Very unfair& rude interview with Sunny Leone on CNN IBN. She is taking it on her chin sportingly, obviously in the interest of her coming film”.
Kapoor says he is simply exercising his right to free speech. “I have the right to speak my mind on a social platform. If I feel strongly about an issue, I tweet my opinion on it,” he says.
“I try to not be hurtful. I am not a hypocrite,” he adds. “In one or two instances I might have come close to being one, and retracted my statements. If I say something and then realise that I was wrong, I immediately apologise. I treat my Twitter followers as my family.”
Sometimes even speech as direct as Kapoor’s can be misconstrued, as it was when he greeted Twinkle Khanna on her birthday with: “Happy Birthday dear one! You were in your mums tummy when I was serenading her in Bobby “Aksar koi Ladka”in 1973 lol”.
Quick as a tweet, rumours spread that Twinkle’s mother Dimple Kapadia might have been pregnant before she married Rajesh Khanna. But Kapoor was having none of that. “Kuch logon ko problem Kya hai? Kakaji and Dimple were married, Bobby was still incomplete, we shot that song when Dimple was 3 months pregnant”, he tweeted, annoyed.
Controversy struck again when, while shooting for Kapoor & Sons, he took a dig at Alia Bhatt’s IQ and Sonakshi Sinha’s weight. Fans, feminists and activists were enraged. Kapoor deleted the tweet, but stated that both actresses concerned were like his own kids. “These guys know me too well to feel offended by such a tweet!” Kapoor says with a laugh.
More than trolls, what irritates Kapoor most are people who follow him hoping to get in touch with his actor son Ranbir Kapoor. “Since Ranbir is not there on any social networking sites, I get so many posts from his girl fans and if I don’t respond to their posts, they get offended. Youngsters today are so childish!” he bellows.
It is time, perhaps to re-post his tweet that had his followers on Twitter double over with laughter (see picture): A Grumpy Cat with a sign: ‘I’m not Ranbir’s mailbox!’
– Ananya Ghosh
Follow @ananya1281 on Twitter
Shirish Kunder: The Jokester
“On Twitter, there’s no filter between how I think and write”
For the longest time, the only way people knew Shirish Kunder was as Mr Farah Khan – the man married to one of Bollywood’s most successful directors and charming women, who appeared to display neither success nor charm himself. Kunder, we thought, based on the films he made and the gossip about him, was a non-achiever. He was just a man with some weird ideas of filmmaking.
So it was a jaw-dropper of mega proportions when we first encountered a tweet from the handle @ShirishKunder, laughed our heads off, floored by its intelligence, wit and sarcasm, and then thought, Huh? Shirish Kunder?
It was like the universe had suddenly been swallowed by a black hole and spat out completely rejigged when, still doubtful, we went to the film editor-turned-director’s timeline and saw that all the tweets were like that. Yes, this was Shirish Kunder – but what a different person he is with an ‘@’ attached to his name.
Tweeting his mind
Kunder is not at all different on Twitter from what he is in real life. He’s been this way on the social media platform since he first signed up in 2009, but at that time, the Twitterverse was not ready for the real Shirish Kunder.
Baba Ramdev, preparing to make his next statement. pic.twitter.com/A8fQVQ0aHT— Shirish Kunder (@ShirishKunder) April 17, 2016
“People judged me on the basis on the films I made,” he says. “But in both (Jaan-E-Mann and Joker), the result was a dilution of what I had intended. On Twitter, there’s no filter between how I think and write; it’s my truest self.”
Dripping with sarcasm
Kunder uses Twitter to exercise his humour. He’s abreast with current affairs and frequently calls famous personalities out for their stupidity. He has close to three lakh followers and more than a few of his tweets have been retweeted over a thousand times. The tweet, “Delhi govt must learn from Haryana. Instead of wasting time improving the education system, just change it’s [sic] name to Indraprastha. #Gurugram”, is a masterpiece of sarcasm.
“In 2009, when I joined Twitter, a lot of people would say ‘Yeh saala kya bol raha hai, samajh mein nahi aata’. But I think people’s sense of humour has evolved in the last few years,” says Kunder.
When someone tries to pull you down, do not misunderstand them. They're only looking for company.— Shirish Kunder (@ShirishKunder) April 15, 2016
Kunder’s tweets are up to the minute, something that comes from his tremendous interest in the world around him.
“Since I rarely hang out with others from the industry, I spend all that time on my laptop,” says Kunder. “I read about everything, especially political affairs. To be able to write well, it is important for one to be aware of everything that’s happening. That’s where you find your stories.”
He often takes politicians to task for their ignorant statements, accompanying his comments with gifs and pop-culture references. Tweeting a picture of Anupam Kher and Ashoke Pandit at the airport recently, Kunder called them ‘Batman and Robin’.
Batman & Robin detained at Srinagar airport and sent back. pic.twitter.com/luVAsshwoW— Shirish Kunder (@ShirishKunder) April 10, 2016
“When I see something stupid, a funny picture comes in front of my eyes, and I tweet it,” he says. “As for sarcasm, a lot of people find news boring. If something wrong is happening, I bring their attention to it through humour. They read it for the joke, but they also become aware. So the next time they vote or make a choice, they can make an informed one.”
Kunder’s retreat to his laptop may actually make his professional life better. “My popularity on Twitter gives me faith to do the kind of work that I want,” says Kunder. “My upcoming short film, Kriti, has turned out exactly how I thought it would. And Twitter’s 140-character format has helped my dialogue writing. Earlier, we would write long dialogues to make a point. Now, you can do the same with short, punchy lines.”
– Shikha Kumar
Follow @TheCommanist on Twitter
Ram Gopal Varma: Sensation Seeker
“I like trolls... it makes me rich in knowledge about ...jobless idiots...”
It may be three years since his last Bollywood release (though his biopic on Veerappan opens on May 27), but thanks to the many controversies Ram Gopal Varma tweets his way into, Bollywood’s maverick director has never really been out of the news.
Last month, he invited the ire of Rajinikanth fans when, in a series of tweets, Varma called the cine legend “a bad looker” who “knows just 2nd half dance movements”. He then defended himself tweeting, “Dumb fans of Rajni who didn’t realise my tweets are a compliment should realise Rajni himself makes fun of himself”. In the past, Varma, who has 1.81 million followers, has Twitter-sparred with Karan Johar, tweeted about the size of Sridevi’s thighs, questioned the existence of God and equated the government’s ban on porn to “what Taliban and ISIS is doing to freedom”.
His political incorrectness makes him an easy target for trolls, but Varma says he enjoys dealing with Twitter’s mobs. “I like trolls... it makes me rich in knowledge about the sheer number of jobless idiots out there in the dark recesses of Twitter.”
- Supriya Sharma
From HT Brunch, May 22, 2016
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