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Celeb Treatment

Whenever a superstar fall ill, Indians resort to much more than prayers. Why being a doctor treating a celebrity could be a curse, explains Gursimran Khamba.

brunch Updated: May 30, 2011 15:45 IST
Gursimran Khamba
Gursimran Khamba
Hindustan Times

At the time of writing, superstar Rajnikanth is still in the ICU because of a recurring respiratory infection and gastro-intestinal problems. As an actor and as a human being, there have been few like him in Indian cinema and like every other fan I wish he nurses back to health quickly.

But mostly, I hope he recovers because I fear what would happen if he doesn't. Indian fans have an unusual way of grieving their demigods' moments of vulnerability; and while I don't mind mass prayers that give people strength, I don't appreciate people committing suicide, trashing the city under the pretext of "emotional outbursts" and jamming the local economy in the name of a bandh.

What is that about us that we cannot deal with loss with a sense collective dignity? Did you need multiple police columns to prevent, as the Uttar Pradesh police call it, a "law and order situation" outside Neverland like you did at Puttaparthi? Am I the only one who thinks this emotional and physical violence is disrespectful to the very memory of the person you're deifying? Is that all the emotional fortitude we've cultivated?

I also fear for the hospital's medical staff. Now I'm not a fan of the medical-industrial complex that our hospitals have turned into, but if I were a doctor I wouldn't go near treating a celebrity patient in India. Because I know despite my skills and best intentions, there are variables I cannot control - and hell hath no fury like an Indian fan scorned. Would you want to be the doctor who couldn't save Rajnikanth? The guy who destroyed a pillar of badly re-hashed Chuck Norris jokes disguised as Indian humor?

And what of the family? I know public figures are treated as collective property, but is it really that important to know what he ate, when he slept and force them to issue statements about all his organs working fine? Like in any relationship, what we need is to give them space, realise they're human and not get selfish. But then we wouldn't be Indian.

Gursimran Khamba is a pissed off writer, stand up comic, podcaster, social media junkie and lover of all fried foods. Except bananas. Follow him on Twitter at!/gkhamba

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First Published: May 23, 2011 14:20 IST