Names that don't just matter... they're important

  • Sanya Panwar, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Aug 16, 2014 07:55 IST

There are a whole lot of famous people out there; some scrambling for their 15 minutes of fame (we're not into taking names, because we are nice like that) and others who have a genuine talent. Some own a natural swag; others have an unwavering confidence that's just shy of cocky. While some are the definition of cool, others are shrouded in a sense of mystery or are just over-the-top, annoying or too old hat.

And then there are those who say or do something and not only change our lives, but affect Indian life as a whole. Who are they?

They're icons: Folks who have significantly inspired and impacted us with their outstanding personalities. They are faces we know by name, people we quote in an instance. We imitate their style and romanticise their image in our head.

But let's focus on youth icons. Make no bones about it, all things great truly start with the youth.

A youth icon belongs to a class of his own. It exposes the youth's paradigm and defines its identity. Like, Salman Khan, for instance.

We know what you're thinking: What the hell makes Salman an icon (of any kind)?

Forgive us for being big Sallu bhai fans. He is easy on the eyes for teenage girls and soccer moms alike, so you can't really blame us. But the star known for his rebellious streak does strike us as a youth icon. Why? Well, for starters he looks better in a jeans and t-shirt than guys half his age. He is weathered and in an odd way is a life lesson that can give every 20-something hope – everyone and everything has flaws.

He is pushing 49 years old and doesn't seem to give a damn. He still manages to get on the wrong side of the law, to put it mildly. With still no signs of him settling down, he is the only man in India who makes bachelorhood look good, unless you consider the likes of Rahul Gandhi. That you can't squeeze the rebel out of the Bollywood bad boy makes him all the more popular with youth, don't you think? And then there is the 'Being human' side to him. Talk of dichotomy!

When youth's done getting in touch with its wild side, it might see an Abhinav Bindra and say, "Man, I want to be that guy. I want to make my country proud." The ace shooter is a proof that overt affiliation with Bollywood or cricket isn't a prerequisite for becoming a hero for the youth.

But hey, we don't want to second guess what qualities stand out for youth and who make its icons. So what do we do? We take time out and make effort to unravel young minds.

Because we can't work out if it's Mary Kom or Saina Nehwal that youth look up to or admire sitting on an armchair, we took a survey. A survey that indicates who are the people who are on the way up, those who are on the wane and those that are out all together, as far as the youth go.

We hope to find out how much the brooding Virat Kohli matters for the youth; we want to know what Barack Obama or Amitabh Bachchan have done lately to stay relevant to the youth; we want to tell you if it's sparkly little soul Alia Bhatt's amusing banter about life or Angeline Jolie's genuine charm that draws the youth.

These are just some of the findings of the fourth edition of the HT-MaRS Youth Survey 2014: Youth and Icons. To know if your icon made the cut, watch out!

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