The first thing one should notice about the Angelina Jolie-Maddox-Brad Pitt photographs that have adorned the front pages of most Indian newspapers is that the meter of the autorickshaw they are in is down. In other words, its star passengers did not have to haggle for a price before getting on board for a spin around Pune. Compared to the downsides of being a global celebrity — apparently not being able to venture out of the hotel room freely — the fact that the fare will be fair is something that the Jolie-Pitts can be thankful for.
While some Indo-Jolie-Pitt analysts have commented about the ‘humble’ choice of the auto, it would be worthwhile to remember that ‘humility quotient’ of such celebrities should be measured in contrapuntal terms. Dominique Lapierre would never have been the Dominique Lapierre he is today if, instead of celebrating the hand-pulled rickshaws of Calcutta, he had been fixated on the IT industry in Bangalore. Also, the more celebrated the celebrity, the more ‘humble’ should be the props to get that ‘touching’ frame. Remember Prince Charles holding a stainless steel tiffin carrier presented to him by Mumbai’s dabbawalas? Somehow, a photo of the royal seated at a Five-Star table would have been ho-hum.
The intention of the Jolie-Pitts’ auto-outing was to feed the hungry among the media. One will only know in the next few days whether this has sated the photographers’ appetite or only given them the first taste of blood. Frankly, the Jolie-Pitt bodyguard (also English, by the look of the England rugby jersey he was wearing) beating up an English paparazzo was the high point for us. But what we would really like to know as serious journalists analysing news that affects the lives of millions of people is: what was the auto fare? And was the meter rigged?